Wed
08
Feb 2017
Wed, 08 Feb 2017

Diversity and Inclusion still on the agenda

Article by Teresa Liu
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So here we are in 2017. Another year that will no doubt come and go as fast as 2016 did, the year before that, and even the year before that one.

AmCham and AmCham’s Women in Leadership Committee continues to support and agitate for diversity and inclusion in the workplace and in leadership in all its descriptions.

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The economics of having a truly inclusive and diverse workforce and leadership team are well recognised and part of AmCham and this committee’s brief is to continue to raise awareness, not only as to the social benefits of an inclusive workforce, but also the positive impact on the bottom line.

As the Chairman of this committee, and a member of the committee for more than 5 years, it can feel that there is discussion fatigue about the issue and how to create an equal playing field for everyone – free from gender, race, age and so on.

But we need to be reminded that there have been positive changes over the last decade and even in the last 5 years in Australia. For instance, 40% of new board positions in January 2016 as reported by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) were women.  We should celebrate that while the dial has not turned as far as many of us would like, it is turning in the right direction.

There is however, still much to be done. August 2016 data from the WGEA notes some key statistics on the issue of gender inequality only, and is broadly summarised below.

 

On participation and pay:

  • The workforce participation rate for women is 59.3%, compared to 70.4% for men.
  • The full-time average weekly ordinary earnings for women are 16.2% less than for men. In ASX200 organisations the gender pay gap is 28.7%.
  • While more women aged 20-24 years have attained year 12 qualifications or above compared to their male counterparts in the same age bracket, and significantly so for women aged 25-29 with a bachelor degree compared to their male counterparts in the same age bracket, the average graduate salaries are 9.4% less than for men, and 4.4% where other factors such as persona characteristics, occupation, industry and education are also accounted for.

 

Further statistics on women in leadership show that:

  • 4% of chair positions are held by women, 23.6% of directorships, and women represent 15.4% of CEOs.
  • 4% hold key management positions.
  • One quarter of organisations reported on do not have any women in key management positions and 10% of ASX200 companies do not have a woman on their board.

 

The results reflect a number of factors regarding occupational stereotypes and sector segregation based on gender, social factors such as lack of part time or flexible senior roles, and also discrimination or bias (whether conscious or unconscious).

I am very pleased that AmCham continues to be a persistent knocker on the diversity and inclusion door. This is often through a call to action for organisations and their leaders who are key in creating change from the top down and translating and effecting an even playing field culture through conscious policies and short and long term goals. But increasingly it is also through reaching out to future young leaders with the support and tools that will assist them in advancing their careers within this current environment.

The WIL Committee’s two key themes in its program for 2017, “Change Happens First” and “Leadership has to Own It” bring these together.

Additionally, and for the first time AmCham will be holding a Diversity Summit in Q3 2017- a national initiative, this will bring together leaders and other key stakeholders alike in an active and thoughtful discussion on where we are and how we can move the dial from unconscious bias, to perhaps conscious inclusion and ultimately an environment where there is unconscious inclusion.

In my role as Co-Managing Partner of Fragomen Australia and New Zealand, the importance of an inclusive and diverse workforce is not something lost on me. Fragomen continues to be rated very highly with respect to measurements on inclusion, particularly in leadership, and, due to the work we do as a firm, perhaps more than others, I can appreciate the positive benefits this brings in not only my own workplace but also in those of our clients.

The committee is comprised of a group of dynamic individuals and we are energised and excited by the 2017 program – we hope you are equally as enthusiastic and look forward to seeing you at future AmCham events.

 

Teresa Liu is Co-Managing Partner Australia and New Zealand of Fragomen, the world’s leading global immigration services provider advising on all aspects of immigration law and global mobility, and is the Chair of AmCham’s Women in Leadership Committee in NSW. 

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