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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 Gender Equality Insights 2021: Making it a Priority report, published by the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre & with the Australian Government Workplace Gender Equality Agency, explores what initiatives work to create more gender equitable workplaces and what this can mean for better business outcomes.

The report is based on seven years of data on gender equality policies and practices in non-public sector organisations in Australia with more than 100 employees, reported annually to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, and is the sixth in the series.


  • The report uncovers insights about effective initiatives to improve gender equality across Australia’s workplaces, by identifying the top performers, who have consistently taken steps to improve gender equality outcomes over the last seven years.
  • Through the Gender Equality Good Practice Index, the report finds that the consistent application of workplace policies and actions delivers better gender equality outcomes, translating to lower gender pay gaps and more women in senior leadership roles.
  • However, the report also identifies a considerable evidence of a level of apathy among Australia’s biggest organisations when it comes to progressing gender equality.
  • This apathy exists in efforts to increase the number of women on Boards, to narrow the gender pay gap through regular audits, and the implementation of policies and practices that help make workplaces more gender equitable.
  • Organisations with a higher concentration of women were found to be the most apathetic.
  • This complacency could put at risk the hard-earned gains in recent years in improved gender equality outcomes.

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.


  • Contents
  • Foreword WGEA
  • Foreword BCEC
  • Executive summary
  • Introduction
  • Gender pay gap: how have we progressed?
  • Women on boards: do board targets work?
  • Gender equity policies and practices: what can be achieved?
  • Introduction
    • What does good gender equity policy and practice look like?
    • Measuring consistency in gender equity practices: a new index
    • Which are the best and worst industries for good gender equity practices?
    • Policy consistency drives improved gender equity outcomes
  • Discussion and summary

This report was originally published on the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre website.

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