Media Release by The Hon Kate Ellis MP

Gender equity reforms to reduce the paperwork and cost burden for business

Minister for the Status of Women, Kate Ellis has released new estimates today that show the cost burden to business of reporting on gender equity outcomes will fall significantly under new reforms.

Earlier this week Minister Ellis announced a suite of reforms to the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency to make the Agency more effective.

The Agency was established in its current form in 1999 and has previously required all businesses of more than 100 employees to report on policies and programs that ensure women are able to participate in the workforce equally with men.

Under these new reforms businesses will no longer have to provide lengthy and detailed reports to the Agency but rather provide raw data about the number of women and men they employ and at what level.

Reporting costs to businesses that are already required to report to the Agency are estimated to decrease over time from $1200 to $450 annually.

Ms Ellis said that one of the primary aims of the reforms was to streamline the reporting process for business and cut through red tape.

“We have consulted with business prior to the formation of the reform package and we have heard loud and clear that the onerous statements and reports that previously had to be provided was burdensome for many companies.”

“We are making a multimillion dollar investment in the Agency’s IT capacity – this is so reporting can be done on-line, which is a reform business has been asking for.”

“The Australian Government will continue to consult with business about¬† the relative benefits and burdens of what indicators need to be reported on.”

“We will ensure that the most effective but also the most cost effective reporting requirements are put in place,” Ms Ellis said.

The implementation period for these reforms involves considerable lead time so that businesses have time to adjust to the new reporting requirements.

The Australian Government is also increasing funding to the Agency so that is has the resources it needs to support businesses to improve gender equity.

Businesses will be able to request assistance from the Agency to implement gender equity programs and improve the number of women represented in senior ranks.

For the first time, small businesses, while not required to report formally to the Agency, will be able to access this support as well.

Ms Ellis has called on the Opposition to support these important reforms in the Parliament, which will allow the Government to work hand in hand with businesses to improve gender equality in the workplace.

“Research of Top 500 companies in the United States has indicated that companies who have women in their leadership beat those who don’t on every financial indicator.”

“Gender equity is good for business, maximising the skills and insights of all members of our community. Reduced administrative burdens are also good for business and these reforms will work to deliver both of these outcomes,” Ms Ellis said.

For more information about the reforms to the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency visit: www.eowa.gov.au