Retailers largely absent from list of gender equal firms

gender equal

A record 141 organisations have been named ’employers of choice for gender equality’ by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA).

The list includes the first-ever national sporting organisation – the Australian Football League – and shopping centre owners, such as Scentre Group, The GPT Group, Stockland, Lendlease and Mirvac.

But one category of business is notably absent: retailers.

Besides Metcash, Caltex Australia, Mercedes-Benz Australia Pacific and Unilever, which owns the retail business T2, no retail organisations are featured on the list, which recognises employer commitment and best practice in promoting gender equality in Australian workplaces.

Any business that submits a report to the WGEA under the Workplace Gender Equality Act (2012) can apply to receive the citation.

Criteria include efforts to address the gender gap in leadership, learning and development, remuneration and flexible working, and other initiatives to support family responsibilities, employee consultation, preventing sex-based harassment and discrimination and targets for improving gender equality outcomes.

Many of these criteria are minimum requirements for businesses with more than 500 employees under the Act. But if a business does not request to be considered for the the ’employer of choice’ citation, there is no way for them to make the list.

This may explain why so few retailers are featured, since even Kate Morris, CEO and founder of Adore Beauty, who is a leading voice on gender equality in retail, told IR she was not aware of the citation.

Adore Beauty has implemented a policy of three months fully-paid parental leave, and paid domestic violence leave, and offers scholarships and paid internships to young women studying STEM subjects in Australia.

These are some of the very trends that WGEA identified among its citation recipients this year. Other areas of investment include initiatives to encourage women to return to work after a career break and robust analysis and correction of gender pay gaps.

“More organisations are introducing strategies and policies to ensure women and men are equally valued and rewarded in their workplaces. Gender equality has become an important focus for Australian employers,” WGEA director Libby Lyons said.

“However, we also know that policies and strategies cannot just live on paper. They have to be implemented. Targets need to be set, outcomes monitored and managers, executives and boards made accountable for the results.”

Lyons said the citation doesn’t signify that the employers have solved all their gender equality issues, but it recognises that they have embraced a rigorous and detailed programme to transform their workplaces.

“Each year, I am delighted to see the innovative approaches taken by our citation holders in implementing actions and programmes that we know drives  change,” she said.

Metcash Group CEO Jeff Adams said he was delighted that the wholesaler had received the citation.

“Metcash strives to be a favourite place to work and has implemented a range of programs over the past few years to increase diversity in our workplace, including flexible working, parental leave polies and addressing the gender pay gap. This citation aligns with our values and is a testament to our hard work so far, we’ll continue to build and improve on these efforts,” he said.

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