November 23, 2017 / News
The face of the workforce is changing. Previously homogenous workplaces are getting a revamp with the increasing participation of women and people of multicultural backgrounds, in a range of different sectors, fields, and industries in Australia. Facilitated by globalisation, shifting cultural paradigms and the continual evolution of technology, diversity is becoming more and more commonplace in professional settings. Encouraging and nurturing diversity in the workplace should be integrated seamlessly into all aspects of a company, and not just a quota that needs to be reached. Although it may be true that diversity has made massive leaps in recent history, more can be done to ensure that diversity is a core principle in all Australian businesses.
Women In The Workplace
Currently, women comprise just over half of Australia's population. However, the representation rate in most industries is yet to hit parity. The growing prominence of women in the workforce highlights the shift towards making workplaces more inclusive and accessible. A lot of progress has been made in terms of the representation of women, and there are policies in place to ensure that female workers aren't disadvantaged in the workplace, solely due to their gender. These include laws and regulations surrounding Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) and anti-discrimination, which provides legal protection against prejudice. EEO and anti-discrimination laws help to encourage greater diversity in the workplace, and safeguards workers that face barriers to employment, against unfair treatment.
Women currently compose approximately 46.2% of the total Australian workforce. This number indicates that overall men and women are on the path to reaching more equal levels of participation in Australia's workforce. Great strides have been made over the course of history, and women are making a considerable mark on the businesses they are part of, and subsequently the wider economy. According to a Mckinsey Global Institute report, global GDP could potentially be boosted by $12 trillion by 2025, by improving equality between men and women.
Currently, some of the best industries for women to be a part of, include:
- Health Care and Social Assistance (78.3%)
- Education and Training (70.9%)
- Financial and Insurance Services (55%)
- Accommodation and Food Services (54.7%)
- Retail Trade (54.6%)
However, in some industries in Australia, more ground needs to be made, with significantly low levels of women employed in the following sectors:
- Information Media and Telecommunications (37.6%)
- Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing (30.9%)
- Wholesale Trade (30.1%)
- Manufacturing (27.3%)
- Electricity, Gas, Water and Waste Services (22.4%)
- Transport, Postal and Warehousing (21.7%)
- Mining (13.7%)
- Construction (11.7%)
Also, with a small portion of women occupying top ranking jobs and the presence of a 15.3% pay gap between the earnings of men and women, it is clear that there is a long way to go before women are truly equal and more efforts need to be made to give women the same professional opportunities as their male counterparts.
Benefits of Diversity In The Workplace
Improved diversity in the workplace, not only fosters an environment of inclusivity, but its active and consistent implementation has also led to improvements to the bottomline of many businesses. A McKinsey study found that top ranking companies in terms of gender diversity, were 22% more likely to be more profitable than companies that lagged behind. The correlation between high levels of female participation in a workplace, and a company's financial performance can not be denied. Gender diversity in the workplace isn't just a way to appease the masses, but a smart business move that has been shown to provide tangible financial benefits.
Greater gender diversity is also tremendously beneficial for businesses, as the participation of a broader range of people, with varying perspectives, experiences, and knowledge, enables more rounded and well-informed decision-making. A diverse workplace creates a hot bed for innovation and allows fresh ideas to be generated, which can have a very significant impact on the performance and longevity of a business.
The future of diversity in Australia's workforce looks bright. More and more initiatives geared towards encouraging women in the workforce are being implemented across the board. Gender diversity is being integrated into the very fabric of many companies, and is proving to be invaluable for improving morale, employee retention, and performance.
Diversity in Labour Hire
The Labour hire industry is one that is often dominated by men. This is due to the fact that the main clients of labour hire agencies tend to be from manufacturing, construction, and warehousing, which are also very male-centric. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (2016), of the 600,800 people that found work through a labour hire agency, 59% were males. This highlights a current disparity in gender representation in the labour hire industry.
However, within the labour hire industry there have been efforts made to improve the participation of women. Equal employment opportunity (EEO) and affirmative action initiatives have been implemented in various labour hire agencies in order to encourage more women to enter labour hire, protect them from prejudice and bias, and support them in their professional endeavours. This has contributed to a growing number of women using labour hire and finding employment through them.
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