This week’s data released by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) shows some modest improvements in workplace gender equality in the entities required to report to WGEA (those with 100 or more employees).

There was an ever so slight increase in the proportion of women in senior management roles. And I guess the “biggest single-year drop” of 1% in the gender pay gap is something to celebrate (at least it didn’t go up!) notwithstanding that men still earn 21.3% more than women on average and pay gaps persist in every occupation and industry – even those which are heavily dominated by female workers, such as health & social assistance and education & training.

The stats also disclose that:
  • access to employer-funded paid primary carer’s leave has gone backwards. This disproportionally impacts women who still account for 94.9% of all primary carer’s leave utilised, with men accounting for only 5.1%
  • more than 35% of boards and governing bodies in the data set have no female members
  • although there was a 4% increase in organisations analysing pay data, 40% of those employers took no action to close the gap
  • although almost 75% of employers have a gender equality strategy or policy, only 31.4% have implemented KPIs for managers relating to gender equality outcomes.
Narrowing the “action gap”

The “action gap” – having policies and strategies in place but not making managers accountable for embedding them in their workplaces – has not narrowed. It has been 18 months since I published this blog on diversity and inclusion noting that:

It is trite and well-trodden ground that without buy-in from the top, progress towards true diversity and inclusion will not be made. However, general statements of commitment at the Board or corporate policy level will also never lead to change without integration and implementation at each business function and unit level.

Sadly, although obvious, it is still true. Whilst these policies and initiatives remain stuck within departments for example, seeing them as an HR responsibility not a broader management responsibility, and aren’t part of a broader organisational change conversation, things will never change.

With such little progress being made on gender equality, I’m disillusioned about the prospect of achieving meaningful diversity beyond gender in our workplaces (ethnicity, age, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, educational background, religion, parental status and socio-economic status) anytime soon, until we begin to close the gap between corporate rhetoric and reality.


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What is happening?

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