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:
1. 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.
2. More specific small business management issues, including:
- 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.
Agency resources for small business
The Agency has developed a number of resources to help small businesses address gender equality issues in their workplace, including resources on gender pay equity, flexibility and setting gender targets. These can be accessed below.
- About workplace gender equality
- Pay equity for small business
- Gender target-setting toolkit and calculator
- The 'how-to' guide to employer-provided paid parental leave
- Australian Standard on gender-inclusive job evaluation and grading
- Guide to the Australian Standard on gender-inclusive job evaluation and grading
External resources for small business
- Australian Human Resources Institute - Workforce HQ
- Australian Human Rights Commission - help small business
- Department of Industry - National Small Business Support Line (SBSL)
- Legal Help Guide
- economic Security 4 Women - projects and research
- Fair Work Australia - small business unfair dismissal code
- Fair Work Ombudsman - small business obligations under Fair Work Act 2009
- Western Australian Department of Commerce, Labour Relations - pay equity in small businesses