New Gender Equality Act - What else can we do?

29 Sep 2022


New Gender Equality Act - What else can we do?

I recently wrote about gender inequality within the disability sector for International Women’s Day. I asked why are women in the 21st century still fighting for equal pay?

Since that post, I read that if the current rate of increase in women’s pay continues as it is, it would be 268 years before we achieve parity, and Covid19 has set us back even further.

Keep making waves

With the new Gender Equality Act 2020 (Victoria) formally commencing on 31 March 2021, I thought it timely to revisit this topic to continue #ChoosetoChallenge and consider how this new legislation may help SMEs.

This new legislation means the State’s public sector, universities and local government bodies will have to improve gender equality in the workplace.

Great, we cheer! Now how does this new legislation impact us as an independent, medium-sized company? Well, we work with the NDIS, a nationally based scheme with funding and governance from all Australian governments. And any positive change there, surely, creates a ripple that travels wider still to help enforce positive change.

How can we improve?

But still, I question why the workforce in the disability sector (mainly women) is still so disproportionately and so lowly paid compared to other sectors?

A recent report has shown that when auditing isn’t required and actions enforced, the pay gap widens, and it widens the most in female-dominated fields such as community and services. This is where the most apathy around pay gaps exist. Which surely begs the question, what are women themselves doing about it? Do we need to audit ourselves?

Is our inherently caring nature (generally speaking) getting in the way of asking for proper remuneration for our skills and our valuable time?

Do we as leaders need to speak up more to empower employees to demand their rights in the workplace and to keep aiming higher for leadership roles? After all, the findings in the 2020 government pay equity series delivered a clear message:

More women in key decision making positions delivers better company performance, greater productivity and greater profitability.

What are your policies around gender equality pay? This guide Practical steps to improve pay equity between women and men in your organisation is a good starting point.

For my own part we:

-ensure we pay above award wages equally and across the board, irrespective of gender, purely based on qualifications and experience.

-25% of our workforce is male and we equally ensure a family-friendly workplace for all.

Mind the barriers

The following facts are always in our mind (according to ACTU report The Gender Pay Gap over the Life Cycle).

The gender pay gap can be attributed to the barriers women face in career development and access to leadership positions - such as discrimination, sexual harassment and bullying. The same barriers people living with disability face every day.

Women make up 46% of the total workforce, yet:

They make up 60-70% of workers in three lower-paid occupations – clerical and administration, community and personal services and sales;

They make up 60-80% of workers in lower-paid health and social assistance and education and training industries.

So, what else do we do? Continue to Say It Louder

Ros Winzar