Why a workforce gender focus is a win for ALL
The latest Federal Government Budget identified that women are an ‘untapped resource’ for our economy. As such, the need to ensure that everyone receives the same remuneration for the same job is paramount.
That is why the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) shouted out to employers to take urgent action to close the gender pay gap.
While much has been written over many years about this gap it has remained stubbornly a continuing gap. And a gap that has serious consequences too.
More than pay
Of course, it is not just pay that needs normalising but redesigning of leadership roles, more regular offering of flexible working arrangements, and even introduction of a gender neutral paid parental leave policy.
Those organisations who are embracing change in this space, report that there are direct benefits in recruitment, retention, productivity and overall profitability.
It seems so obvious that by allowing a gender pay gap to continue within an organisation, then that organisation misses an opportunity to gain uplift from women’s skills, capabilities and potential being fully realised.
Industrial laws changes
The Government’s overhaul of industrial relations laws, including commitments to address inequities and pay gaps facing predominantly female industries has to be welcomed, especially as there is considerable upside to be gained in doing so.
According to a statement from the Hon. Katy Gallagher – Minister for Finance, Minister for Women & Minister for the Public Service, and the Hon. Jim Chalmers – Commonwealth Treasurer:
“Gender inequality is holding Australia back. In 2022, Australia was ranked 43rd of 146 countries in the World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Index. Our national level indicators highlight persistent gaps between women and men, including a gender pay gap of 14.1 per cent. Women in Australia continue to shoulder the majority of unpaid work and caring responsibilities and are more likely to be in part-time, casual or low-paid work as they try to balance work and family. Gender inequality is also a key factor underpinning gender-based violence. Until there is true gender equality, we cannot reach our full potential and be the Australia we want to be.”
Upside in having women on your team
Having more equal representation of women in your workplace is a significant upside for everyone and the business as a whole. It can
- help to enhance your teams’ productivity,
- potentially increase your organisation’s revenue,
- create a better place to work environment,
- improve job satisfaction, and
- reduce burnout among staff regardless of their gender.
And any improved staff retention means significant savings in terms of time and money spent on your efforts in recruitment.
How do I encourage more women to join our workforce?
- Pay attention to gender pay gap
If you are serious about wanting to encourage more women to re-enter the workforce, it is crucial to focus on equal compensation for work that is of equal value. For example, do you conduct pay equity checks regularly to make sure that all staff of similar expertise and in similar roles are paid the same regardless of their gender or other differences?
For example, Enterprise Care’s FY23 Remuneration Portal can help you perform this exercise. A new gender breakdown for CEO, Board and staff makes it easier for you to keep tabs of what is best practice and supports your pay-equity audit.
- Allow more flexibility
Give all staff – regardless of gender, the ability to discuss and agree a work schedule that better balances their home and work responsibilities in a way that offers much greater flexibility.
For example, if the nature of their job doesn’t require them being in front of the computer from 9 to 5, then allow them to decide when and where work gets done.
With a hybrid style of working having been shown to be possible and successful, then it is hard not to accept it becoming a norm in our post lockdown world. Also, it is likely to be the easiest strategy to implement. Instead of choosing between their professional and personal lives, staff are better able to return to the workplace with the confidence that they can have and thrive in both.
- Continuous professional learning and development
To help retain your staff, skills and professional development pathways should be high on your agenda. It is becoming a top criterion for many staff when choosing an organisation for them.
And keep in mind that, given the responsibilities women typically have both at work and home, they are likely to prefer flexible programs that can be completed online at their own pace.