Last year’s warning by WGEA Executive Director, Libby Lyons, of flat lining due to gender fatigue has come to pass, with evidence that in 2020 “we are asleep at the wheel.”
“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, I was concerned that Australian employers had become complacent. The modest rate of change in last year’s results suggested they were in the grip of ‘gender equality fatigue’,” Ms Lyons said.
This is the 7th year of WGEA workplace data collection from employers with more than 100 employees. Data covers 4.3m employees (40% of workforce) and represents the largest gendered workforce data set in the world.
Ms Lyons complimented employers for their high level of compliance (98%) in a year of incredible disruption. She stressed that the impact of the events of 2020 on our workplaces will not become apparent until 2021, which will be a critical year to assess gendered impact of the COVID pandemic.
Overall Ms Lyons was disappointed about the 2020 data – saying “Data doesn’t lie and this year we have the good, the bad and the downright ugly.”
She highlighted again her concerns that Australia is allowing progress on gender balance to stall or regress, citing the 10 years it took to claw back the 2% increase in the gender pay gap during the GFC.
“We cannot see a repeat of this as we recover from the recession caused by the impact of Coronavirus. Now is not the time to prevaricate and wait for better days, but the time to double down as you rebuild and grow your business back again.”
Some key take-aways
Female representation on all boards
- up to 28.1%. This includes all organisations of more than 100 employees
that report to WGEA, including many private sector companies.
Gender pay gap
– small drop down 0.7pp to 20.1% but men still out-earn women on average by $25,534.
Action of pay equity
– 6.1% reduction in the number of those employers taking action to close the gap
Access to paid parental leave
– more than 50% of reporting organisations offer paid leave to primary carer
– increased slightly to 18.3%
Employers supporting flexible work
– 75.9% of companies have a policy / strategy for flexible working, but only 2.2% have set targets for men’s engagement. But Libby warned that flexible work alone is not the panacea for flexibility and inclusion