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Australia failing at gender diversity in the workplace

A majority of women (65 percent) believe Australia is lagging behind other countries in the push to improve workplace gender diversity.

Recent survey of 500 women by Executive Women Australia (EWA), revealed that a vast majority are dissatisfied with the government’s minimal support for women in executive roles; and one in five women believe politicians are completely overlooking the issue of gender diversity in the workplace.

The survey also revealed policies and initiatives that would sway their vote in the 2013 Federal election, with 57 percent of women saying equal policies in the workplace is one of the most important considerations politicians should be addressing in the run up to the election.

A further one in two women (51 percent) labeled targets for gender representation at senior levels of government and corporations an important consideration, while a similar number identified flexible working hours for men and women (50 percent).

EWA executive director, Tara Cheesman, said the results reflect a feeling of frustration amongst women who want to see talk transformed into action.

“What we found was a large proportion of women who no longer feel Australia is at the forefront of gender diversity legislation,” she said.

“Many believe we are now a considerable distance behind a range of European countries that are seeing quality results through deliberate top-tier gender initiatives, many of which include mandatory board quotas.”

According to the survey, 50 percent of women would be more likely to apply for an executive role with a company if they knew they set high gender diversity standards.

Cheesman believes we need to take a more proactive approach to motivate cultural change where appointments are based on merit and experience, not gender.

She also urges that we build toward a future where government, business and women’s groups are collaborating to ensure gender diversity in the workplace.

“Beyond the Government’s policies to tackle workplace diversity, it is the broader steps like unbiased recruitment selection processes, setting internal targets, ensuring flexible working hours, improving the parental paid leave scheme and meeting the growing cost of childcare that will level the playing field, and allow women to pursue career opportunities,” said Cheesman.

Tasnuva Bindi
Tas is a journalist at Dynamic Business. She has a passion for visual and performance arts, feminist politics, and animal rights. In her spare time she likes to paint, write poetry, and read courtroom drama novels.