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Plan International Australia has called for urgent action to tackle inequality in the workplace, as new figures show women still make, on average, about a fifth less than their male counterparts.
The Workplace Gender Equality Agency’s annual report also showed that while the proportion of women across management has increased in recent years, those in the top job are still overwhelmingly male, with women filling just over 17 percent of chief executive or head of business roles.
Plan International’s own research has shown there is a significant discrepancy between what girls aspire to early in life, and what they believe is realistic for them to achieve as they become young adults.
The CEO of the girls’ rights agency, Susanne Legena, said girls see inequality all around them, which inevitably excludes them from certain opportunities.
“We’ve called it ‘The Dream Gap’ and it’s unfortunately alive and well in Australia, and around the world. Our report from last year found that as girls get older, their confidence decreases and 40% of girls think gender is the biggest barrier to their chances of becoming a leader,” she said.
“As a female CEO and leader, I find this very disappointing. We are all responsible for creating the conditions in which girls feel safe and supported to take risks and excel not only in the workplace but in the wider world.”
“Businesses and their leader have a key role to play in stamping out inequality. It’s not enough for businesses to report on the pay gap – girls and women want and need action. We aren’t perfect, and we are looking at where we can improve. This requires will and leadership from businesses in all sectors.”
What is the significance of these results?
“These results show us that while progress is being made, this problem is still not getting the attention it deserves. It’s not enough to measure the gap – it won’t reduce on its own. We need to see real action and leadership from businesses in all sectors.”
What should be done to rectify gender inequality in the workplace?
“Barriers to women rising up through the ranks in each workplace and in each sector need to be identified in order to be addressed. Businesses should be asking their staff – both male and female – what they could do to improve, how they could encourage more men to take up parental leave, how they could be more flexible to ensure women’s careers don’t stagnate if they become mothers. But it’s not enough to report the figures, it’s not enough to ask the questions. The key is to come up with solutions and do whatever it takes to implement them.”
How does Australia compare to the rest of the world?
“Recent data shows us Australia’s gender pay gap is close to the OECD average. We are an incredibly wealthy country with a strong economy, but we could be doing even better if half of our population wasn’t being held back. Australia can and must do better – there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be leading the way on this issue.”