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Gender Equality in the Workplace

DiscriminationFebruary 28, 2014

Gender Equality in the Workplace (Last Updated On: November 18, 2016)

In the wake of the Government’s promise to cut billions of dollars in red tape for businesses, there are reports of lobbying from employer groups to relax gender reporting requirements under the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 (the Act).

Reporting requirements and minimum standards

As the end of the 2013-2014 reporting period approaches, those employers with 100 or more employees (Relevant Employers) will be required to submit their first report against an increased number of gender equality indicators (GEI’s) in the workplace. These include:

  • Gender composition in the workforce and governing bodies
    • Equal remuneration
    • Availability and utility of flexible working arrangements to support employees with family or caring responsibilities
    • Consultation with employees on gender equality issue.  Employers are required to give their employees access to the report and an opportunity to comment on it

The collected data will be used to assist in setting and improving standards of gender equality in the workforce and minimum standards will be introduced for Relevant Employers for the 2014-2015 reporting period. However employers are already raising concerns that the reporting requirements are becoming too burdensome and creating significant and unnecessary costs.

The Workplace Gender Equality Agency (the Agency) and supporters of the reporting requirements, argue that the cost to business is far outweighed by the benefits of gender equality for employers.

Although the reporting requirements only apply to employers with more than 100 employees, the Agency recognises the importance of and encourages gender equality for small business, and has a series of tools and resources to assist businesses in this area.

So what are the benefits of gender equality?

The Agency argues that businesses, whether large and small, which can successfully attract both men and women and achieve gender equality in their workforce obtain considerable commercial benefits.

  • Attracting the best employees – those employers who can attract both men and women to the business have access to the entire talent pool and are therefore likely to gain a competitive advantage in attracting the best talent.
    • Reduced costs of staff turnover – there is research to support that both women and men are more likely to remain at an organisation which supports diversity in the workplace.
    • Enhanced organisation performance – there are links which establish that gender diversity within an organisation improves overall organisational performance.
    • Minimising legal risks– strategies which promote gender equality by reducing sex discrimination and harassment can greatly reduce risk of being subject of a legal claim of this nature.
    • Enhanced reputation – those employers which support gender equality are likely to have an enhanced reputation with current and prospective employees, clients and the wider business community.

In light of some of the direct benefits of gender equality identified above, it may be an opportune time for all employers to reflect on their own business and whether their workforce supports gender diversity.

By Nathan Job – Senior Employment Relations Consultant

Contact Employsure for further information on gender diversity in the workplace, or assistance with new or existing policies in this area. 

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