The Jobs and Skills Summit held in September 2022 brought Australians together to work collaboratively on the challenges and opportunities facing the labour market and economy. Summit keynote speaker, Danielle Wood CEO of the Grattan Institute, remarked that Australia is falling behind OECD countries with one of the most gender segregated and divided workforces. The Summit introduced immediate actions to be undertaken and guarantees to benefit the Australian workforce and increase its productivity, including how to encourage greater workforce participation among women.
Key outcomes of the Summit
- Improve participation and completion rate of TAFE programs with an additional $1 billion one-year National Skills Agreement
- Ensure 1 in 10 workers on any major federal government funded project will be apprentices, trainees or paid cadets
- Address and ensure equal opportunities including the longstanding problem of the gender pay gap, in what’s being called “same job, same pay”
- Add specific sub-targets for women in the Australian Skills Guarantee
- Establish a National Construction Industry Forum to address issues within the industry, including gender equity imbalances
- Improve the stability of the workforce through multiple amendments to the Fair Work Act
What this means
The Summit proposed that businesses with 100 employees or more are required to publicly report their gender pay gap to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), which would include the Australian Public Service (APS). Additionally, organisations with over 500 employees would be required to set measurable targets, a list that also includes some of the larger APS departments.
Amendments to the Fair Work Act will focus on more flexible working arrangements, including making unpaid parental leave more flexible. This would result in ensuring new parents a job upon returning to work.
Other amendments include protecting workers from discrimination and harassment, including allowing the Fair Work Ombudsman to intervene and resolve disputes. The changes aim to increase protection for people and empower them to address sexual harassment at work.
The future for women in the workforce
The focus on gender equity and improving working conditions is welcomed by the Capital Recruit team – it’s been established that increased gender equity leads to a higher quality talent pool, enhanced collaboration, and higher retention rates.
Not only this but studies by the WGEA, the University of California, as well as countless others, have demonstrated that organisations with a high proportion of women in senior leadership roles are directly related to increased profitability, compared to organisations with mostly men in the top ranks.
Increased profitability and a more motivated, efficient and productive workforce may lead to higher satisfaction rates, and lower absenteeism and turnover. The result of this would be organisations that reach this stage sooner than others would compete for the best talent. Their strong employer brand would shine through the jobs market as a beacon to candidates who feel dejected in their current roles.
It’s clear that many interested groups will be keeping an eye on the reform agenda into the new year.
To discuss how you might implement effective recruitment processes and practices to ensure your business reflects a gender diverse workplace, get in touch with our recruitment experts today.