Gender equality for small business

Small businesses make up over 96% of trading businesses in Australia and face unique challenges in managing and improving workplace gender equality. 

Small businesses in Australia employ a large number of employees and face a unique set of issues when it comes to managing and improving gender equality in their workplace.

Out of Australia’s more than two million trading businesses, around 96% are small enterprises with up to 19 employees, around 4% are medium sized enterprises with between 20 and 199 employees, and less than 1% are large enterprises with more than 200 employees.

Given the significance of small business to the Australian economy, it is important that we ensure gender equality is a consideration in this sector.

Key challenges for small business in achieving gender equality

The key challenges for small businesses trying to achieve workplace gender equality can be classified into two broad categories:

Gender pay equity

  • limited awareness of gender equality and pay equity within small and medium enterprises (SMEs)
  • negotiation skills amongst women contributing to pay inequity within SMEs
  • competing priorities in a challenging economic environment.

More specific small business management issues

  • lower turnover rates 
  • higher impact of parental leave costs 
  • challenges in implementing flexible work options 
  • limited or no HR resources 
  • limited resources to develop gender strategies and management systems 
  • limited data collection systems and processes.