Advancing workplace equity and inclusion

While the recent 2016 Gender Equality Scorecard from the Australian Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) shows some encouraging signs, there is still a long way to go achieving fairer and more equitable workplaces.

Overall in Australia, the gender pay gap (total remuneration for full time employees) has fallen 1.6% to 23.1%.

All Catholic dioceses, other major education systems and independent schools with over 100 employees, are required to report annually to WGEA on a range of workplace equity indicators.

These reports include data on:

  • the gender pay gap
  • access to parental leave and flexible return to work polices and practices such as job share
  • countering harassment and discrimination
  • support for employees experiencing domestic or family violence, and
  • professional development opportunities.

The annual WGE public reports contain valuable information on these areas of policy and practice and on employment statistics such as access to part time or job share after parental leave.

In most dioceses, IEU officers and members participate in diocesan Workplace Equity Committees which oversee compliance with WGEA requirements, support the development of diocesan policies (such as flexible work arrangements and anti harassment) and seek to enhance career development opportunities.

Support for staff with elder care responsibilities has been identified as an emerging issue in some dioceses. Under the Fair Work Act and under enterprise agreements, employees with carer responsibilities have a ‘right to request’ a flexible work arrangement.

As most 2016 diocesan WGE reports show female employment levels of over 70%, these issues are of ongoing concern to IEU members and to the Union.

At a national level, the IEU is continuing to campaign to protect the Federal Government’s Paid Parental Leave Scheme and also strongly supports efforts to ensure access to paid leave for employees affected by domestic or family violence.

Contact the IEU if you have any inquiries about workplace equity issues or would like to become involved in the Union’s Women and Equity Committee.

Pam Smith
Convenor IEU Women and Equity Committee