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Gender Equity Insights Series 2021: Making It a Priority

Workplace Gender Equality Agency Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre




Workplace Gender Equality

Gender Equity Insights Series 2021: Making It a Priority

Gender Equity Insights Series 2021: Making It a Priority

The BCEC|WGEA Gender Equity Insights series, now in its sixth year, has been producing research insights that are designed to support Australia’s journey towards gender equality in pay, employment and leadership. Based on the Workplace Gender Equality Agency data collection covering nearly 4.4 million employees, these reports have served to highlight the positive changes that have been made in Australian workplaces in moving towards improved gender equality outcomes.

Over the past six years, the Gender Equity Insights series have shown what works when it comes to creating more gender equitable workplaces across Australia’s business community. But importantly, the research insights produced in the report series have also shone a spotlight on those areas where progress has been slower to come by, or where challenges still remain to achieve genuine change.

Gender Equity Insights 2021: Making it a Priority identifies the top performers, who have consistently taken steps to improve gender  equality outcomes over the last seven years. It examines why some companies are better than others in delivering improved gender equity outcomes and the factors that drive success through consistency of policies, practices and accountability. It also takes a look at the progress made in narrowing the gender pay gap and estimates just how long it may take for the pay gap to fully close and offers practical solutions to speeding things up. And lastly it considers the representation of women on Boards and test whether or not Board targets work.

This new evidence base is an important step towards not only consistently delivering more gender equitable workplaces, but making sure we don’t go backwards.

Key Insights

  • Consistent gender equality good practice lowers gender pay gaps
    Organisations that implement a comprehensive suite of gender equality policy and practice measures and do this consistently over time have lower gender pay gaps.
  • Mining, utilities and finance outperform health care and education in good practice
    Finance and insurance, utilities and mining companies are most likely to follow the best gender equality practices, with mining increasing by 8.4 percentage points over the last five years. Organisations in the education and training, health care and social assistance sectors rank lowest on average in terms of a consistent approach to gender equality in the workplace and have shown the least improvement over the last five years.

  • Gender pay gap will likely take another quarter of a century to be eliminated
    The full-time total remuneration gender pay gap has fallen from 24.7 per cent to 20.1 per cent over the last seven years. And while the current rate of change is positive, it may take another twenty-six years to eliminate this pay gap.

  • Pay gap audits have slowed and it shows
    The rate of pay gap audit actions has slowed considerably, increasing by only 1.7 percentage points in the latest WGEA reporting data, whereas in previous years it has averaged growth of 3.7 percentage points. Currently, more than half of reporting organisations still do not undertake a regular pay gap analysis.

  • Women remain under-represented on Boards
    There has been substantial progress in the representation of women on governing Boards over time, but women remain under-represented as Board members or Chairs relative to their workforce representation in every single industry except mining.

  • Board targets work but there is little ambition beyond 30 per cent
    Over the last six years, organisations that have set consistent Board targets to increase the share of female Board members do so at twice the pace of those that do not set any targets. These organisations saw the share of women on Boards increase by 7.3 percentage points, lifting the percentage of women from 21.6 per cent to 31.1 per cent between 2015 and 2020. This compares to an increase of only 3.5 percentage points for companies that did not set Board targets.


This report was originally published on the WGEA website.

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