Enhancing equity and inclusion

Issues such as access to parental leave and flexible return to work arrangements, support for employees with carer’s responsibilities, equal remuneration between men and women, and opportunities for professional learning and career development, are of vital importance to IEU members.

While there are important legislative, industrial and policy provisions in place for these issues, how are they monitored by the government? Do employers really have to comply with workplace equity laws?

Under the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012, non government education employers with more than 100 staff, like private sector companies, charities and universities, are required to report annually to the Federal Government on their efforts to achieve more gender fair workplaces.

All NSW/ACT Catholic dioceses and larger independent schools, ECS, and post secondary education employers are therefore required under the provisions of the Act to report against a set of standardised gender equality indicators (GEIs.)

The GEIs relate to some vital areas for IEU members:

gender composition of the workforce

equal remuneration between women and men

availability and access to terms, conditions and practices relating to flexible working arrangements for employees and to working arrangements supporting men and women employees with family or caring responsibilities

consultation with employees on issues concerning gender equality in the workplace

gender composition of governing bodies of relevant employers, and

other matters specified by the minister such as sex-based harassment and discrimination.

In order to ensure compliance with the Act, most diocesan employers have WGE committees in place with IEU officers and members engaged in overseeing policy and practice to enhance workplace equity and inclusion.

For example, the IEU and Bathurst CEO WGE Committee host an annual International Women’s Day dinner, with the most recent being held on 3 March with author Fudeko Reekie as guest speaker. In the Wollongong Diocese, the WGE Committee met on 8 March, followed by an IWD lunch with NSW Police Chief Inspector Anne Clarke APM as guest with a focus on workplace mentoring and support.

The IEU values the contribution of members who serve on diocesan WGE committees and looks forward to featuring some WGE achievements during the year.

Pam Smith
Assistant Secretary/Convenor IEU Women in Education Committee