• 11 Jul 2021 12:36 PM | Jean Murray (Administrator)

    Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins’ report on sexual harassment in the workplace in Australia, Respect@Work, was released over a year ago.  The government published its response to the report in April, and introduced a bill to legislate some of these changes last month.

    Prof Beth Gaze, University of Melbourne, critiques the Bill that amends the Sex Discrimination Act and the Fair Work Act against the report recommendations.  She commends the major changes that expand the coverage, scope and time limits of the Bill, but is concerned about the language and terms used are likely to reduce the effectiveness of the changes.  The SDA changes set a threshold of proving sexual harassment to be “seriously demeaning” which is too is too high, and sexual harassment is not specifically named in the FWA and is not regarded as a workplace health and safety issue or as serious misconduct.  The FWA offers no protection against sexual harassment by a work colleague that occurs outside of the work environment. 

    The Bill needs further changes to address these shortcomings.

  • 04 Jul 2021 10:14 AM | Jean Murray (Administrator)

    A new research report from Victoria University’s Mitchell Institute called  Counting the cost to families: assessing childcare affordability in Australia found early childhood education and care ECEC is unaffordable for more than 385,000 Australian families.

    Although Australia has affordability measures for other common household expenses, we don’t have an accepted way to measure the affordability of ECEC. Nearly 40% of Australian families using ECEC services exceed the international benchmark of no more than 7% of disposable income spent on ECEC.   The Australian government’s recently announced childcare subsidy  takes effect in July 2022. These changes will help families with 2 or more children under 6 in ECEC services, but they still leave ECEC unaffordable for about 336,000 families and will not provide fee relief for about 1 million families.

    The research used HILDA data to compare the cost of ECEC to other common household expenses, and found that such expenses often exceeded utility, transport and sometimes grocery costs. 

    Making ECEC more affordable will improve workforce participation, but importantly it will ensure more children receive the developmental benefits of formal early learning.

  • 27 Jun 2021 10:55 AM | Jean Murray (Administrator)

    This Institute for Sustainable Futures report (University of Technology Sydney) examines commitment to promising initiatives and tools put in place by governments and companies to achieve the best results in terms of creating equal employment opportunities and inclusive workplaces. The report outlines a series of case studies linked to real outcomes in terms of staff well-being and company benefits that demonstrate real traction in resolving this issue.

    A recent EU survey report highlights:

    • pervasive segregation in the labour market.

    • persistent stereotypes fuelled by inadequate work-life balances policies.

    • discrimination allowed by a lack of transparency.

    The ILO reports that the gender pay gap cannot be explained by labour market characteristics that normally influence pay rates and insists that education levels in most countries is not the issue. So what factors do explain the gender pay disparities?

    The benefits for economies are substantial in revitalising company employment and boosting productivity. The ISF report assists in:

    • articulating a clear case for gender balancing initiatives at economy, company and individual levels

    • indicating the benefits of gender balance for employment achieving company goals.

    • ensuring economic incentives exist for mothers to work.

    The commitment to increase participation of women in employment is almost universal. What is lacking is granular evidence of the application of successful initiatives that achieve this.

  • 19 Jun 2021 12:24 PM | Jean Murray (Administrator)

    A global survey of 5,000 women across 10 countries conducted by Deloitte found that 51% of women are less optimistic about their career prospects than before the pandemic.

    Through the pandemic, women have taken on more responsibilities at home and at work while not receiving adequate support from their employers. Nearly 80% of surveyed women indicate that their workload at work has increased as a result of the pandemic. At the same time, 66% of women report having the greatest responsibilities for home tasks and more than half of those with children say they handle the majority of childcare duties. The mounting responsibilities are taking a clear toll on their physical health, mental wellbeing, and career ambitions.

    Survey respondents were clear about what needs to be done to reverse the pandemic’s disproportionate effects on working women: organisations that prioritise diversity, equity and inclusion in their policies and culture and provide tangible support for the women in their workforces will be more resilient against future disruptions. Additionally, they will lay the groundwork needed to propel women and gender equity forward in the workplace.

  • 13 Jun 2021 12:11 PM | Jean Murray (Administrator)

    Prolific author Dr Diann Rodgers-Healey, Director of the Australian Centre for Leadership for Women, asks whether Australia and the EU will achieve global gender equality in a post COVID-19 world.  

    Diann writes in her Emerald Group opinion piece the COVID-19 crisis has highlighted that the lack of progress globally toward gender equality has exacerbated the pandemic’s gender impact. Women make up 39% of global employment, but account for 54% of overall job losses. Female jobs are 19% more at risk than male ones, simply because women are disproportionately represented in sectors negatively affected by the pandemic. As women do an average of 75% of the world’s total unpaid-care work, the rise of these demands during the pandemic contributed to the gender gap in vulnerability to job losses. She concludes, lessons from the pandemic indicate gender mainstreaming, gender responsive budgeting and quotas are essential to achieving gender equality in the post-COVID-19 world.

    Emerald Group is a social science publisher, passionate about leading change. They align everything they do with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, publishing research that influences thinking, changes policies, and makes a positive difference.

  • 08 Jun 2021 5:28 PM | Jean Murray (Administrator)

    Chief Executive Women today called for Australia’s business leaders to learn from COVID and embed flexibility as a strategic performance driver. New research released today, conducted in partnership with global consultancy firm Bain & Company, shows 95% of employees want flexibility and also want companies to encourage flexible work arrangements.

    The report confirmed flexible and remote-work arrangements can work at scale and highlights flexible working as a key lever for economic growth. Key report findings:

    • 2/3 of respondents say they expect their workplaces to become more flexible post-COVID
    • 80% of respondents believe flexibility is viewed more favourably now than before the pandemic
    • 63% of respondents said their company is more flexible than it was three years ago
    • 95% said they would take a flexible arrangement in the next 3 years if offered

    Although respondents said equal take up of flexibility is the most effective way to overcome barriers to gender equality in the workplace, there was concern about disadvantages such as restrictions to career progression, longer work hours and the need to be constantly accessible or ‘on call’.

  • 30 May 2021 12:24 PM | Jean Murray (Administrator)

    A panel presentation is delivered annually by BPW Adelaide and hosted by The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre at UniSA,.  It is free to the public, and well promoted and supported. The 2021 presentation asked: 

    What are the most important issues facing women today, how are we addressing those issues and what more can be done to improve women’s economic security? What opportunities have arisen for women to improve their financial position during COVID-19? How do women grasp these and move ahead?

    Our panel also considered: with 2020 vision, let’s clarify what we should focus on to improve financial literacy, close the gender and superannuation gaps.

    Introduced by BPW Adelaide President Heather Jensen, a financial planner, and facilitated by BPW member Wendy Teasdale-Smith, Education Leader, the Panel included:

    * Vilma Attanasio, State Manager, SA/WA Zurich

    * Karen Eley, Founder of Women Talking Finance

    * Associate Professor Duygu Yengin, The University of Adelaide

    The podcast of the event is accessible here

    The 2018 BPW Adelaide Hawke Centre panel presentation: The GOOD, the BAD and the OUTRAGEOUS of South Australian women in Parliament

    2019 marked 125 years since South Australian women achieved the vote and the right to sit in Parliament. The panel of female MPs and BPW Adelaide President Angela Vaughan explored how South Australian women were tracking.  Dr Niki Vincent, SA Equal Opportunity Commissioner, facilitated the event. The podcast is accessible here.

    The 2017 BPW Adelaide Hawke Centre panel presentation : Gender Pay Equity: How do we make it happen?

    BPW Adelaide marked Equal Pay Day 2017 with an expert panel presenting the facts about gender pay inequity in Australia.   The podcast is accessible here.

  • 26 May 2021 4:36 PM | Angela Tomazos (Administrator)

    Australian Federation of Business & Professional Women (BPW Australia) has teamed up with the economic Security4Women to survey women on their experiences and expectations on the future of work in Australia.

    Part of the background to the results was the disruption to work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has impacted on employment, hours worked, workplace participation, incomes and in many instances, the workplace. COVID-19 also had a significant impact on unpaid work, with unpaid care work a high-profile issue in the survey results.

    There were many important work place themes and structural changes in the labour market unfolding before the emergence of COVID-19 and these are also incorporated into the findings and issues as to how the labour market will evolve in future.

    The survey asked questions relating to the future of work and financial security. It was a solid response, but we note the following characteristics of the respondents:

    • The geographic coverage was excellent, with responses from all States and Territories.
    • 70 per cent of respondents had tertiary education.
    • Just under 40 per cent were working parents.
    • Less than 5 per cent of respondents were from women of ATSI or CALD backgrounds.
    • Over 75 per cent were aged 45 years and older.
    • 75 per cent of respondents were in paid work – either casual, part-time, full-time or are self -employed.

    The key findings confirm some unfolding changes in the labour market both prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and since it hit the Australian economy.


  • 23 May 2021 10:30 AM | Jean Murray (Administrator)

    A recent study by Professor Marian Baird and Associate Professor Myra Hamilton from the University of Sydney claims that in the last 10 years almost all paid parental leave under the role of ‘primary carer’ has been taken by women. The paper warns that the lack of improvement of the PPL scheme has only ingrained gender inequality, both in the workplace and at home.

    ABS data shows that 95% of primary carer paid parental leave was taken by mothers, and 95% of secondary carer leave was taken by fathers, despite the benefits of giving more opportunities to fathers to take parental leave and women to participate in the paid workforce.

    The  research paper, titled ‘Gender equality and paid parental leave in Australia: A decade of giant leaps or baby steps?’, lays out reasons why design features of the original scheme, such as prohibiting the equal sharing of leave between mothers and fathers, resulted in only women signing up for it.

    Advocacy group Parents At Work says Australia's approach to paid parental leave "requires an urgent rethink from both government policymakers and employers". Australia’s PPL scheme is one of the least generous in the OECD, offering only 18 weeks compared to the  OECD average of 55 weeks and providing a flat rate rather than a replacement wage. PPL in Australia is granted to the "primary" caregiver, whereas in other OECD countries it can be shared.

  • 16 May 2021 4:10 PM | Jean Murray (Administrator)

    CPA Australia provides the context of the financial impact of COVID-19 on women.

    Financy: Gender and budget summary: Economist Bianca Hartge-Hazelman advises the government lacks a real plan with many of the measures announced aimed more at fixing women or women’s behaviours around work, rather than challenging systemic gender issues.

    Women on Boards Claire Braund, Executive Director of Women on Boards, said it was good to see the Government has listened to women and responded with a tailored package to address specific issues such as domestic violence, economic security and health.  However, she cautioned that this was simply a start and a very small proportion of the overall budget which also needed to be scrutinised for its gender-based impact.

    Women's Agenda publisher, Tarla Lambert, advises that what was supposed to be the Federal Budget that would change the game for women in Australia was only a tweaked and tinkered version; they ultimately missed a crucial chance to go big and send a powerful message to voters.  She concedes the government did spend big in some areas, including manufacturing, aged care and mental health services.

    The Australia Institute: research economist Eliza Littleton is concerned that the woefully insufficient and temporary spending demonstrate that the Government is still treating issues affecting women as a political problem, rather than a systemic policy problem.

    Centre for Future Work’s Briefing Paper: Budget Analysis 2021-22: Heroic Assumptions and Half Measures reports the budget’s spending on women consists of relatively small amounts of money divided across many different, often symbolic priorities. This modest new spending for women contrasts with permanent and much more expensive measures that will reinforce or widen gender inequality in Australia. Women’s concentration in part-time, insecure jobs explains why the gender pay gap (measured across all jobs) is 31%. And the continuing growth of insecure work could make that worse. In sum, this budget offers no real change to the policy settings that block women’s ability to fully work and earn.

    They conclude the budget will not make an appreciable difference to women’s economic security or address widening inequality.

BPW Australia Newsletter Archive

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