Diversity Council Australia welcomes the Australian Government’s announcement that there will be no change in gender reporting requirements, but is concerned that the new minimum standard being introduced sets a low bar for employers.
The minimum standard for workplace gender equality that the Minister is required to prescribe under the Workplace Gender Equality (WGE) Act will apply to reporting organisations with more than 500 employees from 1 October 2014 and will require employers to put in place one or more strategies in one or more of four areas of gender quality.
“DCA had hoped that the minimum standard to apply to reporting organisations would be quite specific, evidence-based and tailored to each industry, and be designed to encourage greater progress on gender equality. Ideally they would also enable greater visibility of which employers were making progress and which were struggling and required additional assistance,” said DCA Acting CEO, Catherine Petterson.
“However, only requiring employers to put in place ‘one or more strategies’ in one or more of four areas is a notably low bar and will have little impact on driving progress. In addition, only the larger employers (500+ employees) will be required to meet the standard – not all reporting organisations – and yet these are usually the organisations already leading the way,” added Catherine.
Despite what some might think, there remains substantial opportunity for improvement in gender equality in Australian workplaces, according to DCA.
“Key indicators such as the continuing gender pay gap, the paucity of women in leadership roles and the poverty facing so many women in old age indicate just how far we have to go. Reporting against a meaningful minimum standard is critical to assessing whether business and the community more broadly is seeing tangible improvements in equality,” added Catherine.
On a positive note, DCA welcomed the announcement that the existing reporting requirements in operation today for employers with more than 100 employees remain unchanged.
“Over the past 12 months, employers have made significant preparations for implementing the WGE Act reporting arrangements so any significant change would have created a lot more work.
“We look forward to further consulting with the government on the reporting requirements alongside our members. We are supportive of streamlining reporting if it delivers positive outcomes for both gender equality and business,” said Catherine.