Women experience inequality in many areas of their lives. At work, women face a gender ‘pay gap’ and barriers to leadership roles. Many encounter reduced employment opportunities because of the time they give to family and caring responsibilities.
Sexual harassment and gender-based violence also threaten women’s basic right to feel safe and respected at work, in public, in places of study and at home.
Organisations can play an important role to promote gender equality.
They have a legal responsibility not to discriminate against employees and to take all reasonable steps to prevent sex discrimination and sexual harassment. It is against the law to discriminate against a person because of their sex, gender identity, intersex status, sexual orientation, marital or relationship status, family responsibilities, because they are pregnant or might become pregnant or because they are breastfeeding.
Further, best practice employers ensure that men and women performing the same work, or different work of equal value, are paid the same amount. The Fair Work Commission can also make an equal remuneration order requiring certain employees to be provided equal remuneration for work of equal or comparable value.
Organisations can also promote gender equality by taking proactive steps, such as:
- setting targets for the recruitment and promotion of women; for example specifying that the organisation requires at least 30 per cent of senior positions to be filled by women
- offering employees flexible work arrangements, such as flexible start and finish times
- educating employees that sexual harassment will not be tolerated and responding swiftly to complaints.