Property Firms Deliver on Workplace Gender Equity

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Monday, November 24th, 2014
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Property, construction and other firms which are closely involved with the built environment are delivering on workplace gender equity goals and achieving positive results in efforts to position themselves as employers of choice, according to the latest report.

Unveiling its list of Employer of Choice for Gender Equity (EOCGE) citation holders, the federal government’s Workplace Gender Equity Agency (WGEA) said five companies which operate withinin the built environment – GHD, Mirvac, Stockland, Arup and Transurban – were among 76 companies throughout Australia which met a range of criteria designed to serve as a roadmap for change and to guide employers about how to develop workplaces which maximise the potential of both their male and their female staff.

In its report, WGEA highlighted a range of different approaches which had been adopted by those who had been recognised.

Arup, for instance, has put 53 of its leaders through its Inclusive Leadership Training program aimed at raising their awareness about stereotyping and unconscious bias they may hold toward those of different genders and races and how they can mitigate this – a particularly important area, as a UK study found that around 40 per cent of people harbour such biases without being aware of it.

Transurban, meanwhile, was lauded for its FEET (Females Encouraged in Engineering and Technology) Mentoring Program, through which the company engages with female engineering and technology students and offers work placements and mentoring partners to introduce them to potential career paths and opportunities in an area with traditionally low female representation.

Moreover, though they acknowledge more work is to be done, the companies receiving citations appear to be making overall progress with regard to equal opportunity for employment and advancement: at Mirvac, women account for 32 per cent of executive staff and 39 per cent of all staff, according to the company’s 2012/13 workplace profile. For Transfield, to take another example, those numbers are 44 per cent and 40 per cent respectively.

Describing those named as ‘the best of the best’ from a point of view of future job seekers, WGEA director Helen Conway welcomed the mix of companies featured on the list.

“We know sustained and multi-faceted interventions are required to address the structural and cultural barriers that prevent women and men from equally participating at all levels of an organisation,” Conway said. “This year’s citation holders have each demonstrated their commitment to maximising the full potential of their entire talent pool.”

She said the role of men and workplace flexibility cannot be understated.

“Achieving gender equality depends on men taking a more active caring role and this necessarily requires more active support from employers to change norms so that flexibility and caring is not a career killer for women and men,” she said.

All up, the number of companies achieving citations was down from 125 in 2012 to 76 in 2014.

This, however, was not a result of deteriorating performance but rather the introduction of more rigorous criteria, WGEA said.

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