Women make up 50% of the Australian workforce, and yet are not climbing the career ladder to the same degree as men. Today, women make up just 36.3% of all management positions, 29.0% of key management personnel (and executives), and 16.8% of all CEOs. And, if we’re talking tech, the current tech-related workforce is 75% male.
So, how should companies be addressing the issue of inequality, and what are top organisations already doing to support women on the rise? Let’s take a look.
Before we take a look at how Australia’s top organisations are going about changing this, to help women get to the upper echelon of company roles, let’s have a look at Australia’s gender diversity stats in the workplace as they stand at the end of 2018.
Building a business case for gender parity
Australia stands in 73rd place globally for wage equality, so we have work to do. But from a business perspective, how can we convince stakeholders that gender parity makes organisational and financial sense.
Take it from those who are industry leaders: diversity in the workplace means increased productivity, innovation, and profitability:
Diverse management teams are innovative and earn a premium for their innovation
According to one recent study, companies with higher diversity in management earned 38% more of their revenues, on average, from innovative products and services in the last three years than companies with lower diversity.
Diverse teams are happier and more efficient
The Diversity Council of Australia (DCA) conducted the Inclusion@Work Index surveying 3,000 Australians about their views on inclusion in the workplace. What they found was that individuals in diverse teams had higher job satisfaction and were 10 times more likely to be efficient workers.
Parity = profitability
A study by McKinsey & Company found that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on their executive teams were 21% more likely to experience above-average profitability. The study also found that executive teams that were high-performing had more women in revenue-generating roles. Additionally, the study indicated that companies with low representation of women and other diverse groups were 29% more likely to underperform on profitability.
Analysis of a global survey of 21,980 firms from 91 countries also revealed that the presence of women in corporate leadership positions improves firm performance and boosts profitability.
In other words, gender parity isn’t just nice to have – it’s critical to business success.
Fostering equal gender representation in the workplace
If equality isn’t yet on a company’s values sheet, it may be time to push for that change. Company values, when followed, provide a guiding light for the team, as well as in recruitment strategy.
Millennials in particular are reshaping what’s important in a company’s culture. In an increasingly diverse younger employment demographic, businesses need to appeal to a different target audience than they did 10 years ago.
Give it a mandate (a womandate?)
Mandates work, when they are taken seriously. In the report from the Australian Institute of Company Directors we mentioned earlier, in 2015, there was a “voluntary target of 30 percent female representation on ASX200 boards by the end of 2018”.
How did it go? Well, they almost achieved it, at 29.7% of directors.
A notable stat from the report was that women represented 45.4 percent of all ASX200 (board) appointments in 2018, up from 37% in 2015.
One of the most important ways to help women reach higher roles is to offer them the flexibility to both have a career and have children. This means flexible working times, work from home opportunities, extended maternity leaves if desired, and initiatives like on-site childcare.
Women often feel that they don’t have the opportunity to advance in their careers as they are working at home as a mother too, so companies need to do the most they can to help working mothers, or mothers looking to return to the workforce.
Australian companies supporting women
At Optus, the company is committed to helping support women on the rise in the workplace. They offer a range of support programs around managing family commitments, flexible work arrangements, mentoring and coaching opportunities, leadership development and more.
We spoke to Nicholle Duce, Acting VP of Human Resources about her experiences in the company, receiving a glowingly positive account.
“Optus is a wonderfully supportive organisation and there are plenty of opportunities to advance your career,” says Duce. “I am relatively new to the organisation and have already been provided with the opportunity to step up into a more senior role in this time. Our CEO and GCHRO (who is based in Singapore) have been incredibly supportive of me during this transition, providing guidance, coaching and encouragement along the way.”
She goes on to say how the company helps women succeed within the business, using “a structured approach to regularly reviewing and identifying key talent across the organisation with both formal and informal development opportunities to unlock potential a key part of our success.”
“While everyone is personally responsible for their own development, we ensure our leaders play an important role to help their teams improve their performance and create opportunities for their people to go where they want to go.”
hipages, Australia’s tradie-client platform that makes hiring professional tradespeople smooth and painless, are proud of their 50/50 gender split within the company, with a dedicated role for Head of Diversity and Inclusion and Women in Engineering scholarship as part of their gender diversity initiatives.
Suhagna Nundeekasen, Talent Development Manager, reinforces this stand for gender parity at the company.
“We are committed to diversity and inclusion, with some of our areas of focus this year on women in leadership and technology, as well as endorsing great flexible work practices. It is this focus on D&I that allows us to bring in the best people who share our values and ways of working.”
She goes on to note that immersion and flexibility, which help women in the workplace, are structured into the way that the company operates.
“Our induction program allows all new starters to really immerse themselves in the organisation and each department and understand the what, how and why of what we do. “Moving forward, the way we work allows our people to collaborate cross functionally on high impact projects, and support each other to achieve great outcomes, and we have great technology to support us in working together remotely.”
Haven’t yet heard of Flare HR? They’re an innovative company helping automate HR processes to give HR time staff they need to focus on what’s important: their people.
We asked Liz Crawford, Chief Product and Technology Officer, about her experiences with gender equality in a traditionally male field.
“I’ve been working, alongside many others, to improve diversity in tech my whole career. We have seen a lot of progress despite it being slow going in some ways. Currently we are seeing increased positive action around sexual harassment. We still need more female technology leaders, but change is happening!”
“People are often the best resource. It’s really valuable to build up a technical network both inside and outside your workplace.”