Australian Government indicates it wants to wind back gender reporting

A Department of Employment report into the summary of consultations for Workplace Gender Equality Reporting is a flawed document that misrepresents support for the initiative.
Marie Coleman AO PSM, spokesperson for the Coalition for Working Women, said the group is deeply concerned the Government is seeking to wind back the requirement for companies with more than 100 employees to submit gender reports to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA).

"In late 2014 Helen Conway, Director of the WGEA, released a world-class set of meaningful gendered workforce data covering over 11,000 employers and four million employees. This is critical to enabling individual organisations and the Government to work towards improving women’s workforce participation and closing the gender pay gap."

"But without this data we go back to the good old days of one off policies, programs and hare-brained schemes to get women back into the workforce. Governments of all persuasions have been guilty of adopting this approach to women,” Ms Coleman said.

“Accurate data, regular measurement and individual and organisational accountability are absolutely crucial to moving this issue forward.” 

Specific criticisms of the Department of Employment Report include:
  • Only quoting its own employer survey with 523 responses, but making no reference to the 2013 WGEA survey of 2522 reporting employers of which 88% said (in anticipation of reporting) that they were supportive or very supportive of the new reporting framework, 12% were neutral and just 1% were ‘somewhat supportive’ or ‘not supportive’. If these figures had been presented they would have put a quite different light on the conclusions drawn from the Department’s survey.
  • Presenting a lengthy section on its meetings with employer representatives but no section on the views of employee representatives, though both the ACTU and the SDA put substantive positions, the latter on their own and the former through participation in the Coalition of Working Women.
  • Implication that the average costs of reporting based by the CWW on figures supplied by the Department are inaccurate by citing different, median cost data from an unknown subset of the subset of 523 employers reporting to its survey. 
Reference to seven submissions from ‘gender equality advocates’ conveying the impression there were few received and all were from small specialist women’s groups. The submission from the Coalition for Working Women was a coordinated and measured approach from the group of business, non-government, representative and industry associations listed in this release.

"The overall effect of these misrepresentations is to make the support for the current reporting framework seem much weaker than it is, which leads us to question the Government’s agenda," Ms Coleman said.

Issued on behalf of the following members of the Coalition: 

Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU)
BPW Australia
Financial Services Institute of Australasia
National Council of Women of Australia
National Foundation of Australian Women
Women on Boards
Women’s Electoral Lobby
YWCA Australia
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