WGEA’s data and information handling during the gender equality reporting process
1. Collection of data and information
The WGE Act requires relevant employers to submit annual reports to the Agency. Reporting information is collected and used by the Agency for the purposes of administering its functions under the WGE Act and related activities. These include (among others):
- collecting and analysing information provided by relevant employers under the WGE Act (s. 10(1)(d))
- developing benchmarks in relation to gender equality indicators (s. 10(1)(aa))
- reviewing compliance with the WGE Act by relevant employers, reviewing public reports lodged by relevant employers and dealing with those reports in accordance with the WGE Act (s. 10(1)(c )).
The Agency also has other general functions, including:
- undertaking research, educational programs and other programs for the purpose of promoting and improving gender equality in the workplace (s. 10(1)(e))
- promoting and contributing to understanding and acceptance, and public discussion, of gender equality in the workplace (s. 10(1)(f)).
The report to be submitted to the Agency contains mandatory and voluntary questions. These reports contain data about the relevant employer's workforce composition and employees, such as gender, year of birth, postcode, employment status, type of employment, occupational category, manager category, industry class and remuneration. While no employee names are collected, individual employees may be identifiable in some cases.
Collection of mandatory reporting information by the Agency from relevant employers is authorised by the WGE Act. Voluntary information (for example, numbers of employees who identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander) is collected as authorised by the Privacy Act and Australian Privacy Principles.
Personal information and reports
At the time of submitting your organisation’s report, you will be asked to complete a declaration confirming that the report does not contain any personal or sensitive information (as defined by the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth), or that the report contains personal or sensitive information which you have specified in the declaration.
Also, the Agency treats responses in ‘free text’ boxes at the end of each section of the questionnaire as public data and includes these in your organisation’s public report (see point 2), As such, please do not include personal information in the free text boxes.
2. Handling of data and information
Is our data securely stored?
All data submitted to the Agency for reporting is stored securely in the WGEA Portal. WGEA takes the storage and security of personal and sensitive information very seriously and has strict controls in place to guard the data held in our possession.
Access to the WGEA reporting portal is secured using Digital Identity verification services (such as myGovID). For further information, please refer to www.mygovid.gov.au
Remuneration data is stored securely within the Agency’s IT systems.
We take all reasonable steps to protect the personal information that we hold from misuse, interference, loss, unauthorised access, modification or disclosure by using a number of protective measures including password protection for accessing our IT systems, tracking access to our IT systems, locked filing cabinets for any paper documents and physical access restrictions to our offices.
We take all reasonable steps to make sure personal information we collect and store is accurate, relevant, up-to-date, complete and not misleading. This is achieved by primarily having employers enter that information directly into the Agency’s database via a secure website portal during the yearly Gender Equality Reporting Program. When information is provided by email, relevant information is copied from the communication and pasted into the relevant database records. For any information that is not received via these channels, for example, by telephone, the Agency has business processes in place to ensure that personal details are confirmed in writing by the employer.
When no longer required, personal information is destroyed or deleted in a secure manner or transferred to the National Archives of Australia (NAA) in accordance with our obligations under the Archives Act 1983.
3. Use and disclosure of data and information - relevant employers
Information shared with relevant employers
Once all data has been submitted for a reporting year, the Agency conducts in-depth analysis and produces a number of public and confidential reports to help you understand, track and compare progress towards workplace gender equality.
When completing a Gender Equality report, you will receive documents that are to be made public and documents that are confidential relating to the data you have submitted.
Importantly, the Agency treats public and confidential data differently; data considered confidential under the WGE Act is not published publicly by the Agency.
Your public data includes the data and information provided in each component of your report except that public data does not include:
- responses to voluntary questions in the reporting questionnaire (except for those related to sexual harassment training for non-managers and free text boxes at the end of each section)
- personal or identifiable information about individual employees
- information of a sensitive nature
- salary and remuneration data of individual employees or organisations, without prior consent, and
- data/information that is subject to the confidentiality provisions under the WGE Act.
The public data reports cover the public data from your questionnaire, workforce management statistics, and the workplace profile. The public data reports are provided to you when you click 'Generate Report' near the submit section of the reporting page. The following three reports, when combined, constitute your ‘public data”:
- Questionnaire - Public Report: includes responses to all mandatory questions in the reporting questionnaire, voluntary responses related to sexual harassment training for non-managers and free text boxes at the end of each section.
- Workplace Profile - Public Report: this document contains a table of the data from your workplace profile that will be made public, it includes the numbers of employees in each occupational cohort.
- Workforce Management Statistics - Public Report: this document contains a table of the data from your workforce management statistics sheets that will be made public, it includes the number of employees from each question response.
You can access your reports under the 'Reports' section of the ‘Data & Insights’ tab in the Portal.
You must share your public data with your employees, shareholders and members to meet your notification and access requirements under the Act.
- For employers completing the Gender Equality Report - Notification and access requirements
- For Commonwealth public sector employers completing the Gender Equality Report - Notification and access requirements
The Agency only publishes public data (as described above) via the Data Explorer.
Confidential data is provided to organisations in the following ways:
- Reporting Overview. This is an overview of your public data and some summary confidential information regarding gender pay gaps
- Confidential Workplace Profile table. This table combines the public data of your workplace profile (composition information of employee groups) with the confidential salary and remuneration averages of each cohort reported.
- Questionnaire - confidential. This is generated after you either finish completing the reporting questionnaire or click 'Generate Report'. It is different to the public questionnaire report in that it includes all responses from the questionnaire, including responses to voluntary questions.
Later in the year after the Agency has closed the dataset relevant employers will receive the following documents for their leadership and governing body:
- Executive Summary Report - this is a new report which outlines the gender pay gap information from the employers submission which will be published by the Agency.
- Gender Pay Gap Benchmarking Report. This is a tailored Benchmarking report provided by the Agency later in the year for you to compare your salary and remuneration data to your industry comparison groups. It is designed as a powerful business tool for you to track your gender pay gap performance.
4. Use and disclosure of data and information - public
The Agency also uses your public data in a number of ways. This includes publishing it in:
Data Explorer. Your public data is published in the online Data Explorer, an interactive public platform for users to explore the data of individual organisations as well as aggregated data for comparing and benchmarking performance against industry peers and over time.
National scorecard. Each year, the Agency publishes the key findings from the aggregated public reporting data in its Gender Equality Scorecard. This summarises data from the latest reporting year and identifies national year-on-year trends.
De-identified data may be shared with research bodies for research purposes, and other government agencies for the purposes of their relevant functions.
For further information on how the Agency will share information provided to it by relevant employers, refer to Protocol on sharing reporting data and the Agency’s Data Management Policies.
5. Use and disclosure of voluntary data
Information provided to the Agency that is not required under the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 (Cth) (Act) is considered ‘voluntary’ information.
Although voluntary information provided to the Agency is not required for relevant employers to meet compliance obligations under the Act, the Agency encourages completion as this information is particularly valuable in supporting policy development and to better understand the state of workplace gender equality in Australia. Such voluntary information includes, for example, questions relating to the prevalence of formal diversity and inclusion policies and/or strategies, and information about other staff demographic characteristics that can provide more nuanced analyses of workplace equality data (e.g. age and location of employee).
- Mandatory questions and data are marked with an asterisk (*), are detailed on the front sheet of the workplace profile and questionnaire.
- All questions in the Workforce Management Statistics sheet are mandatory.
Is voluntary data made public?
Voluntary data that is considered to be of a sensitive nature, raises privacy issues (for example it could be used to identify any individual employee) or is subject to the confidentiality provisions under the WGE Act is not published by the Agency in public reports.
Only public data (as described above) will appear in an organisation's public report data documents (downloaded by an employer and shared with employees). Additionally, the Agency publishes some voluntary data in aggregate form on the Data Explorer, the WGEA website and in the annual national gender equality scorecard.
What is the Data Explorer?
The Data Explorer is an interactive online platform that publishes the public data provided by organisations in reports each year. It allows users to compare their organisation’s gender equality performance against all reporting organisations in Australia, industry peers and themselves over time.
Users can search for specific organisations and industries or explore broader trends.
What data is included in Data Explorer?
The Data Explorer includes data on the following metrics for all organisations and industries:
- workforce composition
- governing bodies
- employee movements
- gender pay gaps (industry only)
- employer action on pay equity
- gender equality strategy and consultation
- flexible working
- support for carers and paid parental leave
- sex-based harassment
- family and domestic violence.
It does not contain confidential data, such as salary and remuneration data for calculating gender pay gaps. This information is provided directly to organisations in a confidential Gender Pay Gap Benchmarking report.
How do I navigate the Data Explorer?
You can use the icons in the top right of Data Explorer to move through the different tabs such as the annual workplace snapshot, trends by industry and business specific trends.