June 2024

Australia mandates gender equality targets for corporates and boards


The Albanese government, through Minister for Women Katy Gallagher, has unveiled new measures aimed at improving gender equality in business and government boards.

Companies with 500 or more employees seeking government contracts will need to meet new gender equality targets. This decision is part of the government's broader gender equality strategy, which includes commitments such as paying 12% superannuation on publicly funded paid parental leave starting from July 2025.

Achieving gender equality targets

The government plans to leverage its purchasing power to support gender equality. Businesses that meet certain criteria regarding gender equality will be favoured in government procurement processes.

The targets encompass various aspects, including board composition, workforce diversity, equal pay, flexible working arrangements, and efforts to combat sexual harassment.

While specific targets were not immediately specified, the Workplace Gender Equality Agency is tasked with consulting to formulate these objectives.

Gallagher said these targets will be mandatory, underlining the government's commitment to enforcing them to promote gender equality effectively.

Increasing women’s representation in boards

The government also aims to strengthen women's representation in government boards and advisory bodies to address existing disparities and ensure more balanced representation across all positions, including chair and co-chair roles.

Moreover, the government plans to introduce a voluntary registration system to identify women-owned and led businesses among its suppliers, aiming to provide more support and opportunities for such enterprises. Regular surveys will also be conducted to gather feedback from women directly regarding their concerns and priorities for advancing gender equality.

Gallagher said gender equality initiatives will not be confined to the Minister for Women's portfolio but will be integrated across various government sectors, reflecting the Albanese government's commitment to prioritising gender equality through coordinated and complementary reforms.

Australia’s superannuation on paid leave

Meanwhile, the announcement of 12% superannuation on paid parental leave has garnered positive reactions from various stakeholders, including the Business Council of Australia, super funds, Women in Super, the Australian Services Union, and the Greens.

However, some have questioned the timeline for implementation, with the Greens urging for quicker action through their existing paid parental leave bill in the Senate.

Overall, the Albanese government's initiatives signal a proactive approach to address gender disparities in both the private and public sectors, aiming to create a more inclusive and equitable environment for women in the workforce and decision-making roles.

These measures reflect a commitment to advancing gender equality as a central tenet of government policy.

The article 'Australia mandates gender equality targets for corporates and boards' was first published in People Matters.com.

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