A focus on flexible work, parental leave and promoting women in leadership helped secure citations for the 141 organisations on this year’s Employers of Choice for Gender Equality (EOCGE) list.
This year a record 141 companies across 16 categories were recognised with citations by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), up from 120 in 2018. There were also 26 first timers to the list.
Many engineering companies have made repeat appearances, with consulting and professional services and manufacturing making the strongest showings.
WSP received its first EOCGE citation this year, along with QinetiQ, an engineering firm specialising in the aerospace and maritime sectors.
Greg Barsby, QinetiQ Managing Director, said the company’s citation is the result of “continuous focus and attention, as well as measurable objectives with regular reporting”.
“A significant milestone on this journey to EOCGE citation has been to communicate and collaborate with our employees, asking them to contribute to our success through the employee-led Diversity and Inclusion Committee,” he said.
Other companies carried the torch for their respective industries. Mining company St Barbara was mining’s single representative, Mirvac was the sole listing in construction, and Origin Energy for utilities.
Top trends among this year’s recipients included a focus on gender balance in graduate recruitment intake, pay gap audits and programs to encourage more women into leadership positions.
More workplaces also continued the trend of supporting men’s caring responsibilities, with many companies implementing paid parental leave and flexible work policies for men.
According to the WGEA, the EOCGE citation list’s year-on-year growth illustrates that more workplaces see gender equality as good for business and a competitive advantage.
“More organisations are introducing strategies and policies to ensure women and men are equally valued and rewarded in their workplaces,” said WGEA Director Libby Lyons.
“We also know that policies and strategies cannot just live on paper — they need to be implemented. Targets need to be set, outcomes monitored and managers, executives and boards more accountable to the results.”
AECOM Chief Executive Todd Battley, whose company has earned six EOCGE citations, has seen some of these policies turn out results.
“We’ve targeted 50 per cent women in our graduate intake by 2020. We hit 49 per cent last year,” he said.
The company has also implemented unique contract structures, including school term-only contracts and ‘no start or stop time’ contracts to make work-life balance for employees with kids a little easier to manage.
Working through challenges
The engineering profession has made strides towards closing its gender gap, though challenges persist. One is the number of women graduating with engineering degrees has declined compared to five years ago, according to recent data from Engineers Australia.
Universities are working to remedy this by establishing a more robust pipeline of female talent entering the workforce. For example, EOCGE citation recipient Swinburne University of Technology, which has received 10 EOCGE citations, provides women in STEM research fellowships for five disciplines, including electrical engineering and biomedical engineering. It has also established diversity targets for the university’s Engineering Practice Academy for staff and students.
“Our goal is to be Australia’s leading university for inclusion, and Swinburne’s focus on gender equality is one aspect of this,” said Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Linda Kristjanson.
“While we are proud of our success, we also know there is more work to do.”
However, current graduation rates are disappointing given the years of campaigning to get more women into engineering degrees, said Engineers Australia Victorian President Alesha Printz in an interview with AFR (paywall).
“We’re all trying to encourage more women into engineering. But we’re simply not seeing them coming into the profession. We’d love to see gender parity,” she said.
You can view the full list of WGEA Employers of Choice for Gender Equality here.