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New tool helps employers set gender targets

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Director of the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) Helen Conway will today launch a new target-setting toolkit in Sydney.

The WGEA has consistently called on employers to set voluntary organisation-specific gender representation targets and is now providing a practical resource to facilitate this being done.

The toolkit includes a target-setting calculator that enables employers to input their own data, such as turnover and recruitment rates, to determine realistic gender representation targets over a period of time.

Ms Conway noted that calls for quotas are growing louder from those impatient with the lack of progress of women into leadership and management positions. However, Ms Conway said regulation of this nature often leads to a “tick-a-box” mentality which does not promote the necessary cultural and structural change to ensure sustainable improvement. She said targets are a better solution.

“Targets based on rigorous baseline data and analyses are a powerful lever for change that can be applied at any level of an organisation and allow employers to set realistic goals, taking into account their particular circumstances.

“Similar to setting financial or other operational targets, establishing gender targets will help to ensure organisations develop the strategies and commit the resources to meet the targets,” Ms Conway said 

Recent changes to the regulatory environment are helping to focus the attention of employers on gender diversity. 

From next year, under the new Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012, non-public sector organisations with 100 or more staff need to report to the WGEA on a range of gender equality indicators, including the gender composition of their workforce.

In addition, the ASX Corporate Governance Council’s Diversity Recommendations require listed companies to report annually, on an “if not, why not” basis on the following matters: the establishment of a diversity policy; the establishment and annual assessment of measurable gender diversity objectives and progress towards achieving these; the proportion of women employees in the organisation, in senior executive positions and on the board.

Ms Conway said that employers should be given the opportunity to self-regulate under these new regimes.

Commonwealth Bank’s Group Treasurer Lyn Cobley and ASX CEO Elmer Funke Kupper will join Ms Conway in encouraging organisations to set targets at today’s launch being held at CBA headquarters in Sydney.  Both Commonwealth Bank and ASX have set and disclosed gender diversity targets.

Ms Cobley said: “We have a strong commitment to broad inclusion including diversity in leadership. Our target, to increase female representation in our senior leadership roles to 35% by end 2014, unifies the organisation.  It is not about ‘ticking a box’ it’s about giving everyone an opportunity to work together towards a common goal and drive sustainable change.”

Mr Funke Kupper said the business case for gender targets at the ASX was obvious: “Our business is very dynamic and complex.  Increasingly, our competition comes from other markets in Asia, Europe and the USA.  We need to be world class in everything we do.  That means having the very best people and talent available. The diversity statistics indicate that we are not making the most of the talent we have.  It is quite a simple business case.

“We believe that improving diversity is an important business objective and therefore we treat it the same way as other objectives in our balanced scorecards.  We do this for me as CEO and for each of Group executives and their areas of responsibility.

“From FY14 ASX as a company will set targets for several layers down in the organisation.  This matters to us as the challenge is to build a pipeline of executives that can ultimately become candidates for our executive committee, and later in their careers, non-executive directors.  We will publish our performance and our new targets at our full year results in August,” Mr Funke Kupper said.

Ms Conway said: “There is compelling evidence that diverse organisations outperform the competition  so employers that don’t set gender targets risk being left behind their competitors that do.”

The launch of the target-setting tool follows a commitment last month from 14 senior business and government leaders, including chief executives of ANZ, Qantas, Woolworths, Telstra, KPMG, IBM Australia and Citi Australia, to disclose the percentage of women in management and targets for how many women they aim to have in at least three levels of management.

 To begin using the target setting toolkit, download a set of guidelines that will  demonstrate how to use the target setting calculator to help you set and meet gender diversity targets.