The Workplace Gender Equality Procurement Principles (the Principles) describes the Australian Government procurement connected policy associated with the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 Cth (WGE Act). The Australian Government’s revised procurement policy came into effect on 1 August 2013.
The Principles have been developed as part of the Government’s commitment to fairer and more consistent measures for ensuring the Government only deals with organisations who comply with the WGE Act.
Where the Principles apply, non-public sector employers with 100 or more employees in Australia must supply a letter of compliance with their tender submission or prior to contracting with the Australian Government. Letters of compliance are issued by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency.
The Principles outline the steps employers who wish to participate in Government procurement processes must take to comply with the policy.
The Government is committed to improving access to the Australian Government marketplace. In addition to providing clarity to employers, the Principles help reduce unnecessary complexity for Government agencies, making it easier for businesses to sell to Government.
These Principles are a procurement connected policy of the Australian Government and are therefore part of the Australian Government’s financial management framework, which creates an overarching requirement to manage an agency’s affairs efficiently, effectively, economically and ethically and in accordance with the policies of the Government.
COVID Policy Note
During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, WGEA delayed the start and extended the report submission period for 2020 to assist employers who may have needed some additional time to prepare and submit compliance reports. 2020 compliance reports were due for submission between 1 May 2020 and 31 July 2020.
A Policy Note amending the application of the WGE Procurement Principles for the 19-20 reporting period has been approved.
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Frequently asked questions
What is the history of the Workplace Gender Equality Act?
Non-public sector organisations with 100 or more employees were first required to report on a seven step program to address equal opportunity for women under the Affirmative Action (Equal Employment Opportunity for Women) Act 1986. In 1998 the Affirmative Action Act was reviewed and amended to the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act, as a first step in moving away from a focus on process to a focus on actions. The Act was again reviewed in 2009–2010, and the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 is the next progression to now more firmly focus on genuine gender equality outcomes.
Why was the Act amended in 2012?
It had been well over a decade since the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act 1999 was reviewed, and the economic, social and legislative landscape had changed significantly since that time. A review of the Act in 2009-10 found that improving gender equality was an essential component of maintaining the productivity and competitiveness of individual businesses, as well as the Australian economy more broadly. The review recommended that the Act be updated and modernised to be more fully effective in supporting and driving change in Australian workplaces.
What were the key changes the Workplace Gender Equality Act introduced?
The amended legislation was aimed firmly at driving meaningful change in a way that is not burdensome on employers. Key changes included:
- A new focus on gender equality for women and men.
- Reporting has been made simpler and more transparent, and will be against a standard set of gender equality indicators.
- The requirement for a workplace program has been removed.
- Assistance to employers has been enhanced, including through the development of benchmarks.
- Compliance has been made fairer and more effective, including through the introduction of minimum standards.
Which organisations need to report?
The Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 requires non-public sector employers with 100 or more employees (‘relevant employers’) to submit a report to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency. This includes:
- non-public sector employers with 100 or more employees
- corporate structures that employ 100 or more people across all entities
To learn more about who needs to report, please visit Do I need to report?
How does an organisation comply with the Act?
An organisation will comply with the Act if they:
- submit an annual report with the required data on time
- have their CEO sign the public report
- comply with notification and access requirements
- meet the minimum standards or, if they haven’t, improve against them within two reporting periods
- give us information to review their compliance if we ask
- do not include anything false or misleading in your report or in the extra compliance information we request.
The Agency issues compliance letters to confirm that an organisation is compliant with its obligations under the Act. For reporting organisations, compliance letters are available to download from the online portal once an employer has been assessed as compliant. Compliance letters are issued 28 days after the organisation has submitted a fully compliant report (there must be no outstanding data quality items to be addressed).
Employers will receive an email informing them when their compliance letter is available to download from the portal.
To learn more about Compliance, please visit How do I show compliance?
What are minimum standards?
The Workplace Gender Equality (Minimum Standards) Instrument 2014 sets the minimum standard for the GEIs listed below and in the reporting questionnaire. Minimum standards are:
- extra compliance requirements for relevant employers with 500 or more employees in their corporate structure
- the least an employer must do to show commitment to workplace gender equality and diversity.
To learn more about minimum standards, please visit How do I meet the minimum standards?
What are gender equality indicators?
The GEIs represent the most common areas where gender equality barriers may occur in the workplace. They are:
- Gender composition of your workforce
- Gender composition of your governing bodies
- Equal remuneration between women and men
- Availability and utility of employment terms, conditions and practices relating to:
- flexible working arrangements for employees
- working arrangements supporting employees with family or caring responsibilities
- Consultation with employees on workplace gender equality issues
- Any other matters specified by the Minister in a legislative instrument: sex-based harassment and discrimination
What are benchmarks?
Organisations who report annually to the Agency will receive customised competitor analysis benchmark reports towards the end of each year to help them diagnose where the organisation is at with gender equality.
These reports are a powerful business tool, enabling employers to compare their gender performance to that of their competitors, including Australian industry overall (all reporting organisations), organisations within the same industry, and organisations of the same size, or a combination of these groups.
To learn more about benchmarks, please visit Competitor Analysis Benchmark Reports
What if an organisation does not comply?
If an organsiation does not demonstrate compliance:
The Agency can name your organisation in a report to the Minister that is tabled in both Houses of Parliament,
The Agency can name your organisation publicly by electronic or other means,
The organiastion may not be eligible to tender for contracts under Commonwealth and some state procurement frameworks, and
The organisation may not be eligible for some Commonwealth grants or other financial help.