Gender strategy toolkit

Overview

The comprehensive WGEA Gender equality strategy suite covers the ‘Gender Equality Strategy Guide’ and the ‘Gender Equality Diagnostic Tool’. This suite will help organisations to achieve workplace gender equality, where people are able to access and enjoy the same rewards, resources and opportunities regardless of gender.

 

Why is a gender equality strategy important?

A strategy provides a foundation for a plan of action to achieve a range of objectives. It provides a blueprint for accountability against measurable objectives – outlining who will execute tasks and by when. A strategy helps to create specific project plans for discrete initiatives and it can provide detail about how to prioritise actions.

Without a strategy, it is very difficult to gauge whether day-to-day activities and decisions are helping the organisation effectively progress towards the desired end-goal. A gender equality strategy enables organisations to move beyond an ad-hoc (programmatic) approach to gender equality and ensures investment in gender initiatives is targeted. Having a shared understanding of the strategy increases commitment to the initiatives and enables all parts of the organisation to work together towards the achievement of the objectives.

The Gender Equality Strategy Guide overview

 The Gender Equality Strategy Guide (Guide) equips you with the skills and resources to start and/or continue the change process towards greater gender equality in your organisation. The change process involves evaluating the current status of gender equality in your organisation, planning your organisation’s future gender equality objectives and actions as well as tracking your organisation’s progress over time.

Addressing gender equality within your organisation requires a strategic and systematic approach and it is a process that takes time. The aim of gender equality in the workplace is to achieve broadly equal outcomes for women and men, not necessarily outcomes that are the same for all.

The change process

Moving towards gender equality in an organisation involves a process of change and there are many different models and tools for managing organisational change. This guide is not intended to substitute these. Instead it reflects established change management principles and provides a simple, strategic framework that can be integrated into a change process already in use by an organisation.

The guide is structured around the four steps which typically guide change programs.

GES toolkit - Change process

 

Analyse

The Diagnostic Tool provides a framework for determining where an organisation is on its gender equality journey and helps to identify challenges and opportunities for making progress.

Design

Each organisation needs to design a gender equality strategy tailored to its own circumstances. It should be informed by the analysis drawn from the Diagnostic Tool and this guide. Consider drawing on collaboration to design the gender equality strategy

Implement

To achieve each strategic objective, each activity, program or initiative identifed in the gender equality strategy and agreed to by stakeholders should be implemented through an action plan. We know that what gets measured, gets done. A carefully laid out action plan will help other

Review

Annual Competitor Analysis Benchmark Reports provided by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (Agency) provide insights for each reporting organisation to help assess its progress relative to industry or other external comparators.

The eight steps

A gender equality strategy is simply a plan that brings together critical information in one place. It is connected by an action plan outlining the how, what and when of your strategy. The eight-step process outlined in this guide provides guidance for building a strategy. It does not need to be followed in a linear fashion, as each organisation has its own individual circumstances, challenges and strengths. For example: If you have already established a business case and have leadership commitment – (Steps 1 and 2 of this process) – you can move straight to Step 3: Assess gender equality in your organisation. This process will help identify avenues for action including some that you may not have previously considered. The eight-step process covers each of the four change steps mentioned above.

Step 1: Build a business case

A gender equality strategy will be most effective when gender equality has support and commitment from your leadership team and other stakeholders.

Developing a detailed business case tailored specifically to your organisation will help secure that crucial leadership commitment. It should highlight the “why” your organisation believes addressing and improving gender equality will be beneficial, and also underscore that it is the right thing to do.

A gender equality strategy can support your business case for gender equality and it may:

  • improve the wellbeing of staff
  • affect your bottom line
  • enhance your organisation’s external image and brand
  • improve your organisation’s competitiveness
  • help your organisation attract and retain talented staff
  • reduce costs associated with staff turnover
  • enhance productivity
  • help future-proof your organisation
  • reflect your customer base.

The business case for gender equality offers instructive ideas for developing a tailored business case. It is important also to consider the cost of inaction as the drive towards workplace gender equality gains more momentum nationally and internationally.

Resources to help you to identify the benefits of gender equality for your organisation can be found at: the WGEA website, Diversity Council Australia, Fair Work Ombudsman, Champions of Change Coalition and the Australian Human Rights Commission. WGEA’s Data Explorer provides data on the status of workplace gender equality in non-public sector employers with 100 or more employees.

Step 2. Gain leadership commitment

Once you have developed the business case, explain the benefits to your leadership team. The executive leadership group will decide whether developing a gender equality strategy is a priority for the organisation. For a successful strategy, leadership commitment and ownership will be crucial from the beginning of the process. You will need their support and input when it comes to developing your organisation’s vision for gender equality.

Once the strategy begins to be rolled out, leaders at all levels, from the board, the CEO and senior leaders will need to commit to the strategy and actively engage not just all employees, but also clients and suppliers, such as recruiters.

Leadership commitment is also crucial to enable adequate resourcing of time, personnel and financial investment.

  • Use these points as guidance for proposals, papers or conversations aimed at securing leadership commitment:
  • Find out what objectives the board, CEO or senior leaders would like to achieve and in what time frame
  • Help leadership understand the different ways to measure gender equality progress in the workplace – metrics, data and indicators, which measure and compare changes – and help leadership define which of these best align with organisational objectives
  • So that your business case is clear, be specific about resourcing requirements – outline what human and financial resources you will need and what time frames are realistic for the execution and the alignment of the strategy with overall business and people strategies.

Your leaders should be the core champions of gender equality in your organisation. They can help you maintain buy-in within the leadership group, throughout your organisation and among external stakeholders. Your leadership should:

  • be vocal about your organisation’s business case for gender equality – internally and externally
  • act on their own needs for flexibility at work and role model this for others
  • bring gender equality considerations to the forefront of leaders’ discussions on talent, promotions, remuneration and structural changes
  • foster ongoing understanding and capacity to communicate the metrics (representation, recruitment, exits, promotions, pay equity) and other data that relates to gender equality initiatives
  • articulate how the organisation is tracking on gender equality compared to others in the same industry or of the same size using the WGEA Competitor Analysis Benchmark Reports and the Data Explorer.

It is a good idea to start talking to leaders about resourcing for action on gender equality early in the process. You will know more about your resource requirements as you make more progress towards a fully developed strategy.

Step 3: Assess gender equality in your organisation

To develop a successful strategy you need to have a clear picture of the current status of gender equality in your organisation. You will need to collect and analyse current data and conduct a comprehensive assessment of the effectiveness of existing policies and practices. The Diagnostic Tool will help to give you an understanding of your organisation’s gender equality status.

The diagnostic process involves answering yes/no questions against 17 gender equality focus areas and calculating an overall score which indicates where the organisation is placed between ‘meeting minimum requirements’ and ‘leading practice’.

Using the Diagnostic Tool will help you determine where your immediate focus needs to be and how to build from it. In addition, if your organisation reports to the Agency, you may also find it useful to consider the confidential Competitor Analysis Benchmark Report provided by the Agency.

The data collected from the diagnosis will form the basis for building your strategy by highlighting what your organisation does well, and identifying gaps and areas of weakness.

Each focus area has a list of suggested resources to help you build your goals and objectives. You can use the Diagnostic Tool before you begin developing your gender equality strategy or as a review process any time afterwards. You can also conduct a diagnosis using your own methodology.

As part of the process, it is likely that you will need to review your existing policies and procedures for gender bias. Another example of assessing gender equality is to run focus groups where participants are invited to share their thoughts and insights on where the organisation is today and what needs to change in the future.

The Gender Equality Focus Areas in the Diagnostic Tool are:

  1. Strategic alignment of gender equality with business priorities
  2. Leadership and accountability
  3. Gender pay equity
  4. Gender composition of the workforce
  5. Support for caring
  6. Mainstreaming flexible working
  7. Preventing gender-based harassment and discrimination, sexual harassment and bullying
  8. Support for employees experiencing domestic and family violence
  9. Professional development, networking, mentoring, sponsorship
  10. Applying a gender lens to all policies and strategies
  11. Recruitment, selection and promotion
  12. Talent management and succession planning
  13. Workplace gender equality training
  14. Applying a gender equality lens to everyday operations
  15. Applying a gender equality lens to casual, contract and short-term, task-based employment
  16. Driving change beyond the workplace
  17. Applying a gender equality lens to mergers, acquisitions and restructures

Remember

Some focus areas might not be applicable to your organisation, or may be a low priority at this stage. If you are at the beginning of the strategy development process, it is recommended that you prioritise the key focus areas that have the greatest potential to impact on improving gender equality in your workplace.

Step 4: Capture your vision

Before you begin to separate out issues to address, capture a gender equality vision for your organisation. A vision can be a starting point for developing a gender equality strategy.

It is important to consult widely with stakeholders and use a variety of methods to gain input from all employees. This could be done through a general employee survey and/or workshops or focus groups.

The consultation process is a public commitment to improving gender equality in your organisation and is also a forum to raise awareness of the issues and reasons for a focus on gender equality.

There are numerous ways to capture your organisation’s vision but the most common method is to create a mission statement, which usually comprises a short statement with realistic, achievable goals. It does not need to be detailed but it is important the statement is developed as part of a collaborative process with key stakeholders. This can be achieved through collaborative workshops with leaders and employees to get their buy-in and help build up a common vision that is shared across the organisation.

The mission statement process can start with blue-sky thinking but should continue to be refined until the vision is practical and achievable for your organisation.

Step 5: Develop and implement the strategy

Once you have completed the diagnosis, you will be in a good position to develop your goals and objectives for the strategy. You can use your results to benchmark you organisation against the 17 gender equality focus areas in the Diagnostic Tool as a guide.

The gender equality strategy is your foundation document, but it is also a working document which will grow and change with your organisation.

For organisations just beginning to prioritise gender equality, it is commendable to aim for an ambitious strategy, but it must also be realistic. If you are a long way from answering ‘yes’ to all of the questions in many of the gender equality focus areas, you may want to invest your energy into a few of the most relevant areas at first.

Your strategy should address:

  • Why is gender equality important to our organisation?
  • What is our vision?
  • How will we achieve our vision?

Any employee or stakeholder should be able to look at your strategy and understand your organisation’s level of commitment and the tangible steps you are taking towards the organisation’s vision of gender equality.

You can follow a simple process to develop goals and objectives:

  1. Design objectives that are practical and measurable using input from stakeholder consultation and diagnostics.
  2. Identify who will be affected by each goal – make sure this group has been consulted.
  3. Identify risks that may be associated with your goals and objectives and create a risk-mitigation plan.
  4. Identify relevant metrics and indicators for collection and monitoring.

To monitor each of your objectives, you will need to designate specific metrics that can be collected and measured. For example, your objective could be to increase the uptake of flexible working arrangements – this can be measured by the number of formal flexible working arrangements.

Once the goals and measurable objectives have been developed, link these with your vision statement document to form your complete gender equality strategy document.

When the goals and objectives have been endorsed by leadership, the rest of the strategy can be completed. There is no prescriptive way to document a strategy. However it is advisable to keep it short and simple to encourage more people to engage with it. You may even choose to display the strategy on a single page (see Appendix C for examples).

You can review your strategy and realign your goals against leading practice when you are further along the process.

It is important that you stage the implementation of your gender equality strategy carefully, engaging in regular organisational communication (both internal and external where appropriate) at every step of the process. In order to ensure that the strategy is implemented effectively, it is important that steps are taken first to ensure that all relevant stakeholders have received the appropriate training and preparation. Likewise, it is crucial that stakeholders have the confidence and authority to appropriately respond to any resistance or backlash if or when it emerges.

Step 6: Prioritise actions and secure resourcing

A strategy is critical for the direction, accountability and achievement of objectives. However, the strategy will only come to life when the actions – policies and practices – supporting the objectives are implemented. This means a relentless and consistent focus on the execution is central to the success of the strategy.

A strategy also provides the all-important roadmap for execution, and helps to identify core priorities when resources are limited.

The next step is to develop an action plan, outlining the policies and practices that will be implemented to realise the gender equality vision.

For the development of the action plan, first decide which focus areas to target. You will also need to ensure that you have the required resources to execute any actions.

To help guide execution, we suggest the following steps:

Decide on a time frame to implement actions under each focus area

A typical strategic time frame will span three to five years. Actions and initiatives need to be distributed over the time frame to ensure cost-effective delivery outcomes, and time frames need to be identified for each action.

Prioritise your actions and consider these dynamics:

  • potential impact and likely return on investment
  • level of stakeholder support and how this might change over time
  • timing of, and relationship with, HR, business or other change initiatives
  • availability of resources
  • regulatory and other external drivers.

Secure a budget and resourcing

Finalising a budget will require extensive stakeholder engagement and careful planning. Make sure you budget for unexpected bumps in the road.

Develop an action plan for each key focus area which details:

  • outcomes and deliverables
  • time frames with milestones
  • resources required
  • approaches and methodologies
  • roles and responsibilities
  • work streams – progressive completion of tasks by different groups

7. Embed and communicate the strategy

Once your organisation’s vision, strategy and actions are ready, it is time to communicate your strategy to employees and other stakeholders. It is important for the organisation to have clear and consistent messages outlining the data analysis, business case and vision. All leaders should understand and communicate consistent messages.

Communication and engagement with stakeholders is essential for the success of the strategy, as stakeholders often appreciate being asked for their input, which can make them more supportive of change.

Communicating and implementing gender equality policies and strategies is the foundation for change. However cultural change can be slow and complex. The organisational change process towards gender equality will be the longest step in the process and requires constant maintenance to ensure the process does not lose momentum.

The success of your strategy also depends on visible and ongoing leadership commitment. Research shows it is important for leaders to model positive behaviours in order to encourage all stakeholders to embrace cultural change.

Before you release any details of the change process it is crucial that all policies and actions must be ready for execution. For example, all documentation and support to roll out flexible work or parental leave should be in place. Once the strategy has been announced, employees and other stakeholders will start to form expectations and your organisation must be ready to begin the execution in key gender equality focus areas. It is also important that plans are in place to manage any backlash that may arise.

The release of the strategy is an important moment and can be accompanied by an event or organisation-wide meeting to highlight that it is a significant initiative which involves staff at all levels.

Things to consider for your communication strategy:

  • Will you use social media? If so, which channels and who will you target?
  • Are there internal networks you should reach out to? 
  • Will formal language or a more conversational style be most effective?
  • Is there a key event, a product launch or strategic milestone that you can leverage as an opportunity to communicate your gender equality work?
  • How best to handle any further communication from stakeholders. For optimal engagement, your strategy should not just be announcements, but rather a two way fow of messages, inputs, debate and discussion. Consider creating steering groups or committees to encourage employee participation and buy in.
  • Whether large or small, activity in all organisations runs on incentives. Incentives can include financial rewards, linking outcomes to remuneration, recognition via rewards programs, or other employee benefits that recognise participation and impact. Consider what rewards or sanctions are available to incentivise leaders and other employees to dedicate their time, energy and influence to bring your gender equality strategy to life. What do your people have to offer, and what incentives are needed to get them involved?

A communications plan should include:

  • key messages
  • target audiences
  • lines of responsibility for communications
  • time frames / scheduling / frequency of messaging
  • any communications for media.
  • a plan for managing backlash

The communication objectives supporting the gender strategy should:

  • explain – articulate the ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ of the gender strategy
  • educate – equip stakeholders with the knowledge and confidence they need to articulate and promote the gender strategy
  • engage – motivate and inspire stakeholders to actively contribute to the gender equality journey
  • convey - a sense of ownership for successful outcomes at all levels.

For examples of key messages please download the pdf version of the guide (available below).

Step 8: Monitor, evaluate and review

Regular monitoring, evaluation and review of your objectives, time frames and milestones will help ensure that your organisation’s gender equality strategy stays on track. Evaluations make it possible to assess whether and why some objectives take longer than others to flourish.

A primary method of assessing whether the execution of a gender equality strategy is producing the intended impact will be to monitor, measure and regularly report the outcomes of processes over specific time frames. Ideally, the mechanisms to track and report should be in place before the strategy implementation begins, to enable measurement of results before, during and after specific initiatives and interventions.

A gender equality strategy should also include some detail on how, when and by whom it will be evaluated and reviewed, including how measures of progress will be communicated.

The diagnostic process will enable your organisation to establish a benchmark against which performance can be measured over time. Just as you use data to complete the diagnostic process, it is also important that you continue to collect and expand your data collection. Data analysis is a core component of the ongoing monitoring and evaluation process.

Different objectives might have different evaluation time frames. For example, for some indicators ongoing evaluation and review can occur in micro stages such as monthly, quarterly, or at key cyclical stages such as annual review, pre-budgeting and annual reporting.

Review continues throughout your overarching strategy time frame. Three to five years is usual, and each cyclical review, such as an annual review, can feed into adjustment and improvement of the strategy. There are some questions below that may help to guide your review. The Diagnostic Tool can be used at any time to help you benchmark and track your progress.

Questions to help guide your review:

  • How is the organisation progressing with each of the measurable objectives in the strategy?
  • Is there enough data to reliably assess progress?
  • Where lack of progress or other issues are identified, how can these be addressed or overcome through adjustment of priorities or resourcing?
  • What activities or actions should we stop, start, change or continue?
  • Does the strategy (or do the individual objectives) need to be adjusted in light of experience? What are the implications of these adjustments?

What next?

  • Reprioritise initiatives due to changes in business strategy, funding, customer need or new opportunities
  • Reset resourcing because of funding changes or team changes
  • Celebrate completion of an initiative or program
  • Add an entirely new idea that has come out of your consultations or an emerging opportunity.

In the downloadable guide (below), Appendix B sets out examples of metrics to support the measurement of the strategy’s effectiveness

Evaluation

An evaluation occurs after the deadline for achievement of each objective.

Questions to ask include:

  • Has the organisation achieved the objectives within the gender strategy?
  • If not, why not – and what is the lesson from each success, partial success or failure?
  • How should the next gender strategy be adapted to include previous lessons to maximise the chances of success?

It may also be helpful to cross-reference gender strategy outcomes with performance in:

  • WGEA Gender Equality Indicators (GEIs), and minimum standards (applicable to non-public sector employers with 500 or more employees in their corporate structure)
  • Competitor Analysis Benchmark Reports
  • WGEA Employer of Choice for Gender Equality (EOCGE) submission
  • Diversity and Inclusion Awards (International and National)
  • Support from advocacy groups.

There is no correct way to document and display your gender equality strategy. Some organisations may produce a detailed, multi-page document while others will elect to produce a high-level strategy on a page. Some organisations may do both. Condensing your strategy into a summary version makes it easy to read and use by all stakeholders. Appendix C includes examples of using one type of format: a strategy on a page.

Download the full guide:

The Gender Equality Diagnostic Tool overview

The Workplace Gender Equality Agency’s (‘WGEA’ or ‘Agency’) Gender Equality Diagnostic Tool (Diagnostic Tool) helps you to analyse the status of gender equality and pinpoint gender equality gaps within your organisation. It can be used with the Gender Equality Strategy Guide (the Guide) to assist with the development of a strategy for addressing inequalities. You can use this tool before you develop your overarching strategy or as part of a regular review process.

The diagnostic process involves answering ‘yes’/’no’ questions in 17 gender equality focus areas and accumulating an overall score which indicates where your organisation falls between ‘meeting minimum requirements’ and ‘leading practice’ in addressing gender equality.

Do not feel overwhelmed if you cannot initially answer ‘yes’ to all of the questions in each gender equality focus area. Draw on your results to identify an appropriate number of areas to prioritise for action.

Your gender equality strategy and then accompanying goals and objectives will evolve over time, so no matter where your organisation is in the process, you can periodically return to this diagnostic tool to review your progress.

Use your results to build a gender equality strategy

We suggest you use the companion Guide (below) to help you develop a gender equality strategy that is relevant to your organisation. You can use the results from this Diagnostic Tool to help inform your gender equality strategy.

Every organisation and industry has its unique challenges when it comes to gender equality. At times, you may need to use your judgement to adapt this tool to suit your specific circumstances.

Suggested steps for using the diagnostic tool

Step 1

Begin by using the scoring process in this Diagnostic Tool to identify gender equality focus areas to prioritise. These may be areas that are relevant to your organisation which have a lower total score (indicating that there is still plenty of work to do). Use your judgement to determine where you should focus your actions.

Step 2

Use the scoring outcomes as a checklist and focus on developing goals and objectives in the areas where you would like to make improvements.

Step 3

When you feel it is practical and appropriate, move on to other gender equality focus areas. There is no timeframe for this process.

Step 4

Use the questions, the data you collected, as well as the linked resources to help you to design goals and objectives.

How to use the diagnostic tool

The downloadable (PDF) version of this tool includes a fillable scorecard to help you to get a sense of how your organisation is progressing against each focus area.

To use the scorecard, fill out the rubric against each gender equality focus area and then tally up your points. Compare your total score for the focus area to the ‘Gender Equality Focus Area Score’ column in the scorecard below and find out where you are. In order to score your organisation you will need to gather evidence so that you can make informed decisions. This Diagnostic Tool includes a ‘Suggested Data Source’ section for each focus area. This section does not contain a comprehensive list of sources, but can be used as a guide to help you get started.

Once you have tallied your score in a gender equality focus area, there is a section called ‘Moving the Agenda Forward’, which has suggestions for what to think about next if you intend to take action. There is also a ‘Resources’ section with links to relevant sources of information for each focus area.

Click on the headings below for an overview of each gender equality focus area.

1. Strategic alignment of gender equality and business priorities

Strategic alignment of gender equality and business priorities It is critical that the development of your organisation-wide gender equality strategy supports and aligns with your overall business strategy. Each organisation’s gender equality strategy needs to be tailored to each businesses’ needs, based on customer focus, market position, operational strategy, geography and industry dynamics.

Suggested data sources: 

  • your organisation’s business strategy and business plans
  • your organisation’s strategic targets and performance measures
  • industry benchmarks and WGEA Competitor Analysis Benchmark Reports.

Moving the agenda forward

  • What are the key strategic objectives and priorities for your organisation?
  • How can gender equality support your strategic objectives?
  • Are your key strategic initiatives aligned with the development of your gender strategy?

2. Leadership and accountability

Commitment by leaders at all levels is the key to gender equality in every organisation. For the purposes of this tool, we will not be prescriptive about the definition of leadership. You will need to use your judgement to determine who the leaders in your organisation are. To progress gender equality, leaders need to be active advocates and role models for gender equality. Leaders are encouraged to consider that “What we say; how we act; what we prioritise; and how we measure; together, determines what gets done.” Leaders need to set clear expectations that others can follow.

Suggested data sources

  • engagement survey or focus group data on culture, inclusion and/or diversity with respect to all levels of leadership
  • leaders’ achievements against gender targets and business scorecards
  • evidence of visibility of the CEO/head of business as a champion of gender equality, internally and externally.

Moving the agenda forward

  • Recent signs of your leaders’ commitment to gender equality, for example:
  • a written or verbal statement to all employees and/or externally outlining their commitment to gender equality
  • engaging with clients about inclusive work practices • role modelling part-time or other flexible working.

Whether your organisation prioritises gender equality, for example:

  •  your CEO is a WGEA Pay Equity Ambassador
  • your organisation is a WGEA Employer of Choice for Gender Equality citation holder, or working towards becoming one
  • there is senior involvement in a formal diversity or gender equality committee that oversees the gender strategy and outcomes
  • leaders receive specific training and coaching on gender equality.

3. Gender pay equity

Gender pay equity is when women and men performing work of equal or comparable value are paid the same.

It is important that organisations meet their legal obligations regarding equal pay, as failure to do so may result in the organisation and individuals being exposed to a range of legal claims. For more information, see the Agency’s website.

Addressing pay equity in your organisation will foremost involve correcting any instances of pay inequality when it comes to two people doing work of equal or comparable value. This is commonly referred to as a 'like-for-like gender pay gap. Instances of like-for-like gender pay inequality are unlawful and must be addressed immediately when identified.

Action on pay equity may also involve analysing and monitoring your organisation-wide gender pay gap: the difference between the average remuneration of women and the average remuneration of men across the whole organisation (or department).

It is also important that terms and conditions of employment contracts are considered when taking action on gender pay equity. Gender biased terms and conditions can result in unequal allocation of roles and remuneration.

Suggested data sources

  • your WGEA Competitor Analysis Benchmark Reports showing gender pay gap comparisons
  • data on any instances of gender pay inequality in your organisation
  • data on remuneration by gender and by job.

Moving the agenda forward

Think about:

  • policies in relation to gender pay equity, including remuneration policy, pay scales and/or salary bands, enterprise agreements, bonus and incentive structures and reporting against any existing pay equity targets
  • recent signs of your leaders’ commitment to gender pay equity
  • transparency of salary bands and gender pay equity gaps
  • potentially gendered nature of remuneration (discretionary pay, allowances, payment of overtime and graduate entry remuneration)
  • are all staff, including women, on the correct award classification scale/level in accordance with their skills/experience?

4. Gender composition of the workforce

Gender-balanced organisations tend to have greater employee engagement and retention. They also have the potential to perform better than organisations that are dominated by one gender. Research shows that gender balance at leadership, executive and board levels is important, because it can improve the quality of strategic decision-making and innovation.

Suggested data sources

  • gender composition of board, executive, senior managers, managers, total workforce (by business units / team / location )
  • gender composition of employees joining the organisation (by business units / team / location )
  • gender composition of employees leaving the organisation and reason given for leaving (by business units / team / location).

Moving the agenda forward

  • What are the reasons for gender imbalances? For example, location, hours of work, health and safety issues – why are women or men not applying for specific roles?
  • Why do people join or leave your organisation?
  • What methods do you use to recruit for gender balance within the organisation, on boards or governing bodies connected with your organisation?

5. Support for caring

This focus area relates to support for employees with caring responsibilities, including caring for children, elderly people, or dependents living with a disability. Caring commitments are increasingly common within diverse workplaces. Career breaks associated with taking time off to engage in caring contribute to gender inequalities in the workplace. Policies and practices that support caring help to attract and retain top talent.

All organisations must ensure that they are compliant with the relevant state, territory and federal antidiscrimination legislation that protects the rights of carers and the people they care for. The Fair Work Act 2009 also provides for certain employees to request flexible working arrangements in certain circumstances. Public service agencies and associated providers must also take practicable measures to pay due regard to the statements enshrined in the Carer Recognition Act 2010 (Cth).

Suggested data sources

  • the number and location of parent rooms and breastfeeding facilities
  • uptake of support services such as on-site childcare, school holiday caring arrangements, coaching for employees returning from long-term leave and flexible working arrangements.
  • Data on employees by gender
    • accessing technologies to enable flexible work
    • utilisation of parental leave by women and men
    • promotions during pregnancy, parental leave and during long-term leave periods
    • employees returning from parental leave and other forms of long-term leave
    • exits (including dismissals and redundancies) when pregnant and during and after periods of long-term leave
    • exits (including dismissals and redundancies) within 12 months of return from parental leave.

Moving the agenda forward

Think about:

  • The ways your organisation could support female and male employees who are carers (parenting, elder care, care for people living with a disability). This might include flexible work (policy, technology and culture), parental leave, paid superannuation during long-term leave, keep-in-touch initiatives during long-term leave and assistance preparing for return from leave.
  • The ways your organisation could support managers to implement the organisation’s policies and procedures which support employees with caring responsibilities. This might include communicating the organisation’s policies and procedures to managers to raise awareness of these and providing training to managers on how they can encourage and facilitate staff access to organisational policies.

6. Mainstreaming flexible working

Equitable access to flexible ways of working enhances talent attraction and retention, employee engagement and productivity. Flexible work enables individual employees to balance the needs of work and home. Flexible working arrangements come in a variety of shapes and forms and extend beyond part-time work and remote working. Flexible working has successfully been implemented in a broad range of workplaces, it is not just for office workers.

Suggested data sources

  • uptake of flexible working by gender
  • unplanned absence or leave records for flexible workers
  • performance ratings, promotion rates and engagement scores for flexible workers.

Moving the agenda forward

  • How does your organisation promote and normalise flexible working for all employees, in all roles, for any reason?
  • How do your leaders model flexible ways of working?
  • What incentives, targets and measures do you have in place?

7.Preventing gender-based harassment and discrimination, sexual harassment and bullying

Gender-based harassment and discrimination, sexual harassment and bullying in the workplace have significant negative impacts on people and organisations. It can reduce employee well-being, job satisfaction, commitment and productivity, increase absenteeism and employee turnover and negatively affect workplace culture. Employers can also be held legally responsible for acts of sexual harassment committed by their employees or agents.

Not only do these factors lead to increased costs for people and organisations, they also have a significant gendered impact on employee engagement, the types of industries that are appealing to different genders and employees’ promotional opportunities.

The way an organisation educates workers on their rights and obligations regarding gender-based harassment and discrimination, sexual harassment and bullying is important. The aim is to eliminate harassment, discrimination and bullying in the workplace and promote an inclusive culture through behaviours reinforced by education and training (including bystander awareness training).

Suggested data sources:

  • frequency and completion of training provided to all staff on gender-based harassment and bullying
  • uptake of support services for complainants and respondents
  • incidence and resolution rates of discrimination/harassment and bullying complaints by gender (noting: research indicates that incidence report rates are likely to be lower than reality and therefore, are unlikely to provide the full story1 )
  • data on reported complaints that have been addressed
  • survey and focus group data on perceived tolerance of sex-based harassment.

Moving the agenda forward

  • Do you have a supportive workplace culture? Do employees feel safe to raise issues of harassment and bullying?
  • How promptly are complaints managed?
  • What are the consequences of complaints that are upheld?

8. Support for employees experiencing domestic and family violence

Supportive employers formalise the right for employees experiencing domestic and family violence to be supported at work. In Australia, approximately one in six women aged 15 and over have experienced violence by a partner. Within the population of women who have experienced violence, around one in six are currently employed in paid work. 

Therefore, a significant number of Australian workplaces may be impacted by employees’ experiences of domestic and family violence. Some common impacts include reduced performance and productivity, increased staff turnover and absenteeism.

Suggested data sources:

  • employee survey data on perception of support offered by the workplace to employees experiencing domestic and family violence
  • uptake of support services, for example, the number of employees accessing personal leave or counselling services, uptake of flexible work arrangements for reasons of domestic and family violence
  • unplanned absences.

Moving the agenda forward

  • What is your organisation’s readiness to address domestic and family violence as a workplace issue?
  • How do you communicate and maintain focus on this issue in the context of your broader gender equality work?
  • Are you exploring opportunities to partner with other organisations, clients and partners to have impact outside your organisation?

9. Professional development, networking, mentoring, sponsorship

Professional development, including networking, mentoring and sponsoring are all important to promote gender balance in an organisation. Research suggests that without deliberate focus, these opportunities can be delivered in a biased way that is not gender-balanced.

Professional development opportunities should not be limited by any of the following conditions: length of service, full-time service only, capped fee levels or not being offered the program of first/personal choice.

Suggested data sources

  • the number of women and men participating in mentoring programs
  • the number of women and men participating in formal sponsorship programs, either as sponsor or protégé
  • outcomes of development, networking, mentoring and sponsorship activities, for example, promotion, retention and staff turnover rates, and workplace engagement scores for women and men.

Moving the agenda forward

  • Is there gender balance in the number of women and men accessing learning and career development?
  • Is learning and career development accessible to full-time and part-time employees?
  • Is the training budget allocated equitably regardless of gender and employment status, for example, part time employees?
  • Is there gender balance in the allocation of mentoring and sponsorship opportunities?
  • Are mentoring and sponsorship relationships formal or informal?
  • Is there sufficient information, support and resources to maintain the momentum of mentoring and sponsorship programs?

10. Applying a gender lens to all policies and strategies

Progress towards sustainable gender equality, diversity and inclusion requires a gender equality lens to be integrated into the design and operation of key policies, strategies and processes across the whole organisational system and employee life cycle.

Applying a gender lens simply means considering gendered differences as a variable that should be considered during decision making or organisational analysis.

Suggested data sources

  • relevant gender equality policy documents and references including remuneration policy, promotions, rewards policy and flexible working policies
  • allocation of key project work/assignments to key customers/clients by gender
  • organisational culture measures or engagement data showing perceptions of gender equality and experiences of inclusion in practice.

Moving the agenda forward

  • Are gender equality considerations present in policy and practice throughout the employment cycle at your organisation, including recruitment, promotions, performance management, long-leave periods (parental leave) and casual work?
  • How does your organisation look at potential gender-based biases in the detail or implementation of any of these policies and practices?

11. Recruitment, selection and promotion

Gender-balanced recruitment, selection and promotion play a key part of workplace gender equality and inclusion. Robust data analysis and rigorous practice in this area can help to shine a light on gender biases that may occur during recruitment and promotion processes.

Suggested data sources

Data by gender showing:

  • applications, shortlists, interview lists, offers and commencements by role, including graduate programs
  • promotions by business unit and location.

Moving the agenda forward

  • How does your organisation attract a range of applicants for roles in your organisation?
  • How is your organisation acting to give leaders the tools and as-needed support to interrupt bias in selection and promotion decisions?
  • Are you able to accurately measure gender-based representation at all stages of your selection processes?

12. Talent management and succession planning

A robust pipeline to leadership involves identifying, attracting, developing, fully utilising and retaining gender balanced talent at all levels. This pipeline operates across the employee life cycle, from graduate or other entry points to senior leadership opportunities. Equitable approaches to talent management and succession planning help reduce the number of valuable staff dropping out of talent pipelines.

Suggested data sources

Data by gender showing:

  • employees and graduates identified as high potential and/or successors for critical roles
  • the number of graduate intakes
  • employees with secondment, stretch or large project opportunities
  • the allocation of clients to employees
  • gender composition at a partnership/board level.

Moving the agenda forward

  • Does your organisation analyse and compare the results of performance appraisals by gender?
  • How does your organisation measure and incentivise the achievement of gender balance on talent identification lists and succession plans for critical roles?

13. Workplace gender equality training

Workplace gender equality training is an effective way of familiarising staff with gender equality - what it means, how it affects individuals and businesses and the difference gender balance makes in workplaces. Accessible gender equality training can contribute towards a gender inclusive organisational culture. Recognising the signs of inequality in the workplace can also help staff advocate for positive change, with lasting benefits for staff satisfaction and retention as a result.

In many instances, gender equality training may be part of broader inclusion and diversity training. It is important to ensure that gender equality training is a specific component of any training that is undertaken by employees at your organisation.

Suggested data sources

  • gender equality training offerings that are accessible to all employees
  • participation in gender equality training
  • financial and human resource allocation for gender equality training
  • measurable outcomes of gender equality training.

Moving the agenda forward

  • What audiences are you targeting with gender equality training?
  • How regularly do you offer and refresh the available training?
  • How are you determining the effectiveness of the gender equality training conducted?

14. Applying a gender equality lens to everyday operations

Robust reporting of key metrics is a core business discipline for understanding performance. This includes reporting of gender equality and diversity data. In order to achieve the organisation’s overarching gender equality objectives, it is crucial that these goals are mainstreamed at all levels, including at the operational level. To progress the culture within your organisation towards sustainable gender equality, related objectives should become part of the daily work routines for all staff.

Suggested data sources

  • extract relevant data from WGEA reports (for example, Competitor Analysis Benchmark Reports) and your organisation’s annual reports
  • conduct interviews with employees and managers to determine their knowledge of the alignment of core business activities with gender equality strategy, awareness of processes such as reporting against targets or reporting to the WGEA and the existence of, and progress towards, gender targets in business units.

Moving the agenda forward

  • How does your organisation embed gender equality objectives into business unit goals?
  • How do you mainstream gender equality goals into project/program planning, design, budgeting and evaluation?
  • How is the responsibility for attaining the gender equality objectives outlined in your organisation’s gender equality strategy distributed at a business unit level?

15. Applying a gender equality lens to casual, contract, short-term, task-based employment and independent contractors

Organisations may engage people for short-term or contract-based activity. These casual/contract, short-term employees and independent contractors should also be considered in a gender equality strategy. There are gendered challenges unique to these types of contracts, including that different genders can tend to work in different occupations and industries.

Suggested data sources

  • number of casual/contract/short-term employees by gender and job role
  • number of casual/contract/short-term employees who have undertaken gender-based harassment and discrimination, sexual harassment and bullying prevention training
  • casual/contract/short-term employee’s perception of your organisation’s culture and approach to gender equality.

Moving the agenda forward

  • How have you factored the casual/contract/short-term employees and independent contractors into your gender equality strategy, and diversity and inclusion strategy?
  • Do you know if there are any gender-related issues or risks unique to your casual/contract/short-term employees and independent contractors?
  • How does your approach to flexible work include casual/contract/short-term employees?

16. Driving change beyond the workplace

Organisations can progress and support a culture of gender equality beyond their workplace by engaging with their industry and the community. This can include external advocacy by leaders, keeping a gender-balanced lens on the execution of procurement policies and practices, supply chain management and employment practices. Existing and potential suppliers and/or partners can also be encouraged to demonstrate commitment to, and action on, gender equality.

Suggested data sources

  • outreach programs that promote gender equality, for example, into high schools
  • public engagements/speaking events on gender equality by the CEO and senior leaders
  • supplier diversity, the proportion and value of business conducted with women-owned businesses, suppliers with gender-balanced boards and leadership teams.

Moving the agenda forward

Think about:

  • your organisation’s involvement in programs or initiatives to address gender equality issues in your industry or community
  • how your employees can participate in external knowledge sharing and public advocacy on gender equality
  • opportunities for your organisation to encourage suppliers to focus on gender equality.

17. Applying a gender equality lens to mergers, acquisitions and restructures

Research suggests that up to one third of employees experience a merger or restructure during their career and it is likely that these will effect different genders in different ways. Occupational segregation can affect women’s vulnerability to redundancy. For example, women may be more likely to be in flexible jobs (part-time etc.) which may be targeted for downsizing or outsourcing. In addition, if there is a shift towards certain male-dominated skill-sets, the impacts can be gendered and so it is important for upskilling and reskilling to be done in a gender-balanced way.

Suggested data sources

  • number of employees leaving during a merger, acquisition or restructure (resignation and redundancy) by gender and occupational categories
  • employee engagement or feedback data, during periods of merger, acquisition or restructure by gender.

Moving the agenda forward

  • Why might there be imbalances related to the positioning of women or men during an acquisition, merger or restructure?
  • Is the merger, acquisition or restructure affecting employees’ access to flexible working? Is this gendered?
  • Are women and men affected in the same ways and to the same extent as a result of the merger, acquisition or restructure?

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