Tie manager remuneration to gender diversity results: EOWA director
The time for talking about gender equality and waiting for people to "get it" is over - real action is needed now, according to Helen Conway, director of the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency (EOWA).
"This will deal with the resistance to change often found in the ranks of middle management. This is emerging as a particular concern in relation to gender equality. Anecdotal evidence suggests some male middle managers are passively resisting initiatives underpinning targets relating to the appointment of women to management positions because they consider these initiatives to be a threat to them."
The model outlined is "the sort... you would apply to any business initiative", Conway says.
"The problem is... gender equality is not seen as a central business issue, so the usual disciplines that apply to ensure the achievement of business initiatives generally are not applied to gender equality."
She draws a comparison to the approach taken towards improving safety performance in Australian industry, noting that: "The improvements speak for themselves. Perhaps there are some lessons here which could be applied to gender equality."
Proposed reformsConway also outlined the reforms proposed in the recently introduced Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Amendment Bill.
The proposed legislation would amend the objects of the Act to include promoting equal remuneration between women and men; eliminating discrimination on the basis of gender in relation to family and caring responsibilities; and improving the quality and competitiveness of Australian business through the advancement of gender equality in employment and in the workplace.
It would also remove the current requirement for reporting organisations (private sector companies with 100+ employees) to develop workplace programs around gender diversity.
Instead, they must report against a set of gender equality indicators focussed on outcomes to be set by the Minister for the Status of Women (including gender composition of the workforce, equal remuneration, and availability of flexible work).
If an organisation fails to meet a minimum standard, the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (the proposed new name for EOWA), will be required to provide advice and assistance. If the organisation fails to lift its performance over a two-year period without a reasonable excuse, it will be in breach of the Act and unable to engage in Federal Government procurement or receive certain grants.
Conway says the Agency will continue to be a "light touch" regulator and work cooperatively with organisations to help them achieve compliance.
But she says many workplace practices "represent stereotypes not compatible with how we live today", and employers that ignore that reality "do so at their own peril".
"It is always better to be 'ahead of the pack' rather than have change forced upon you in an unplanned way."
Read Conway's lecture or view the presentation here.
If you have some HR news to share or would like to suggest a topic for an article, click here to email the editor.