New research commissioned from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) challenges the picture our society has of working women.
Social researcher Suzi Skinner calls it ‘Invisible Women Syndrome’. Although we can all agree that family-friendly workplaces are definitely a step in the right direction, many women are concerned that the diversity push has stalled.
The ABS research commissioned by Optimiss Consulting, reveals the majority of working women aged 25 to 54 are not caring for children yet most employers are still relying on family-friendly policies to achieve greater gender equity.
The ABS research found that seventy-nine percent of Australian women working full-time and more than half of women who are working part-time, have no children under the age of 12.
Sixty-four percent of women working full-time have no children under the age of 18 and therefore, have no use for the ‘family-friendly’ policies promoted by employers and governments as proof of their total commitment to achieving gender equity in the workplace.
Director of Optimiss Consulting, Kate O’Reilly said “The ABS data reveals what we have long suspected – a great many women in the Australian workforce either do not have children or do not have young children.”
“Having policies for working parents is important and employers should continue to provide options for this group of employees but this should not be where gender equality efforts end,” said Kate.
“Family-friendly policies do not address many of the issues holding women back such as pay equality, access to line management roles, unconscious bias, recruitment and promotion and access to training and mentoring.”
Kate O’Reilly says organisations need to be asking themselves the really tough questions: Do we promote women and men on an equal basis? Do we have a bias towards men when recruiting for senior roles? Do we reward men and women differently for doing the same work when it comes not just to salary but to performance bonuses?
“Getting the policies right for working parents is a good first step for employers to take but their efforts shouldn’t stop there if they want to reap the benefits of being able to draw from a larger talent pool when recruiting and promoting people for middle to senior roles,” she said.
Optimiss Consulting helps firms increase the number of women in their organisation and has secured the exclusive use of a gender equality assessment tool introduced at the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2011.
The Gender Equality Project Tool provides access to the first global certification standard on gender equality for businesses and allows Australian companies to measure themselves against a global field. The tool was developed by The Gender Equality Project, a Swiss-based Foundation in consultation with experts from leading academic institutions including Harvard, Yale, INSEAD, and the OECD Development Centre.
Key metrics examined by the tool include the gender composition at different levels of the organisation, the gender pay gap and employees’ satisfaction with their company’s performance in offering men and women equal opportunities.
The Gender Equality Project Tool is currently used across 18 different countries on 5 continents and 11 different industries by companies such as Ikea, Deloitte, Medtronic, L’Oréal, HP, BBDO, Accenture.