Media Release by The Hon Kate Ellis MP

Taking action to achieve better gender balance at work

The Australian Government will shine a spotlight on businesses who are not achieving gender equality by strengthening the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency (EOWA) and its underlying legislation (the EOWW Act).

Minister for the Status of Women, Kate Ellis, announced today that the Government will work with KPMG over the coming months to talk to business and experts about the best way to measure gender equality and the easiest ways for business to report.

“Currently Australian businesses and other organisations are required to report to EOWA about the policies and programs they have in place to promote gender equity but they do not have to provide numerical data about their actual employment practices,” Ms Ellis said.

“By strengthening the EOWW Act the Government is implementing a more contemporary and coherent approach to economic equality between women and men.”

““We will give EOWA the powers it needs to require businesses to report on their progress against measurable indicators or benchmarks. This will mean that businesses can no longer hide behind ineffective programs or policies.”

In addition to making the reporting requirements for business more meaningful, the Government will also simplify and streamline gender equality reporting processes, so as to ease the burden on business.

“An essential component of putting the new framework in place will be working with business to find out the most effective and efficient way of implementing the new outcomes focus,” Ms Ellis said.

“The Government is committed to implement a reporting process that delivers improved choices and better utilises the significant untapped productivity potential in women’s workforce participation.”

Recent data has shown there is significant room for improvement in the number of women on Australian boards and in senior executive positions.

EOWA’s 2010 Census on Women in Leadership showed that just 8.4 per cent of board directorships in Australia’s top 200 companies were held by women.

“These figures show that Australian companies are not making the most of the wealth of talent and ability of Australian women to contribute at the highest levels,” Ms Ellis said.

“Having more women in senior positions makes good business sense and also good social sense. Young Australian girls, just as much as their male peers deserve to have role models in the senior corporate ranks and boardrooms, who they can look up to.”

The changes proposed today are just the latest example of how this Government is delivering results for Australian women.

Other measures include the Fair Work Act 2009 and, in particular, its’ enhanced anti-discrimination and equal remuneration provisions as well as new supports for flexible working arrangements under the new National Employment Standards.

The Australian Government has made a commitment to significant reform of EOWA and the EOWW Act in order to strengthen and improve their functionality.

Further details of the implementation of this reform will be announced in the coming months.