Politicians must focus on workplace gender diversity to get female vote: EWA

Almost two-thirds of women believe Australia is lagging behind when it comes to improving workplace gender diversity, and Australian politicians need to take note.

According to a new study from Executive Women Australia (EWA) surveying its 500 members, 65% of women say Australia is falling behind the rest of the world when it comes to workplace gender diversity because of its failure to introduce executive gender targets or mandatory board quotas.

Meanwhile, one in five women believe politicians no longer consider gender diversity a priority.

The survey findings come on the eve of EWA’s annual leadership symposium, which will host shadow treasurer Joe Jockey MP to discuss the Opposition’s plans to advance women in executive roles.

Revealing the factors which will sway women in the upcoming federal election, 57% of women in the online survey pinpointed equal pay policies in the workplace as one of the key issues that politicians should be addressing in the upcoming federal election.

Another 51% said targets for gender representation at senior levels of government and corporations should be an important focus, while a similar number identified flexible working hours for men and women.

“Many believe we are now a considerable distance behind a range of European countries that are seeing quality results through deliberate top-tier gender initiatives, many of which include mandatory board quotas,” said EWA executive director Tara Cheesman in a statement.

“We need a more proactive approach to motivate cultural change and get to a position where all appointments are based on merit and experience, not gender,” she said.

Cheesman believes more can also be done beyond the government’s policies. “It is the broader steps like unbiased recruitment selection processes, setting internal targets, ensuring flexible working hours, improving the paid parental leave scheme and meeting the growing cost of childcare that will level the playing field, and allow women to pursue career opportunities.”

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