5 things to look for when choosing an employer that supports gender equality

Many organisations have still simply not embraced gender equality or other forms of diversity and the advantages that it brings.

This week the Workplace Gender Equality Agency released Australia’s 2016 gender equality scorecard showing the state of play of gender equality in our workplaces. Some of the key insights indicate that women make up half of the nation’s workforce but earn only 77 per cent of men’s average full-time income, and women remain under-represented in leadership roles: holding just 16.3 per cent of CEO and 37.4 per cent of all manager roles.

Women may find themselves in the position of wanting to advance their career and seniority, but face challenges within the organisational structure. This may be due to a lack of flexibile work arrangements, discovering that pay inequities exists between men and women or they have been overlooked for a promotion because they have kids or are at childbearing age.

If you are in this position and are considering alternatives here are some things to look for when investigating prospective new employers:

1.Are they an Employer of Choice for Gender Equality citation holder?

The Employer of Choice for Gender Equality citation is awarded to leading organisations in gender equality. To receive this citation employers must have a gender equality policy or strategy, conduct a payroll analysis and address gender equality in a number of other ways.  The full list of the EOCGE citation holders can be found here.

2. Check the narrative around women and diversity

It is also worthwhile to read through the organisations website, annual reports and other materials to see if there are specific mentions of gender equality programs or diversity initiatives. I have done this, comparing the narrative of companies within different industries and it can show a clear distinction between the companies that are trying to attract women and those that have overlooked this issue.

Of course what is written is not always reality so ask about these initiatives in more detail during your interview and ask people who work for the organisation what their experience is.

3. Does the employer offer different flexibility options?

Flexibility is a key enabler for the advancement of women into leadership roles so it is important to check if the organisation offers different forms of flexibility, that flexibility has formal arrangements around it (i.e. not just reliant on individual managers), and that flexibility is offered to everyone (both women and men).

4. Does the employer pay women and men equally?

Women and men should receive equal pay for equal work! Because we don’t have a system of pay transparency in Australia, it is often difficult to know if you will be paid on par to your male counterparts within organisations. By reviewing the organisation’s public WGEA report what you can check is whether the organisation undertakes a payroll analysis and that the employer takes action on pay equity.

5. Access the public report to the WGEA

Each year non-public sector organisations over 100 employees are required to submit a report to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency which covers gender equality performance on a range of reporting matters (covering gender composition, governance, pay equity, flexibility, consultation and sex based harassment and discrimination). Many organisations make this report available on their website or you can access reports here. These reports provide a good indication of what the employer is doing in terms of gender equality strategies and initiatives.

Change on these issues comes from many sources. As individuals we can vote with our feet and select employers that are proactive in creating employee experiences that are fair and equal regardless of gender. Share your experience of what else you look for when selecting prospective employers to ensure they support both women and men in the workplace.

For more information on the latest stats download Australia’s 2016 gender equality scorecard.

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