‘Full-time, always-on’ senior roles lock out women

Job sharing and more part-time senior roles are among ways employers are elevating more women into leadership and narrowing gender pay gaps.

Only seven per cent of managers work part-time compared to 22 per cent of non-managers – percentages the head of Australia’s gender equality agency believes send a “clear message”.

“If you want to progress at a senior level, you have to follow the full-time, always-on approach,” Mary Wooldridge said during a national address on Tuesday.

The Workplace Gender Equality Agency chief executive said companies wanting more women in leadership roles needed to reimagine how managers could work in top positions.

“In too many industries and workforces, we can’t see an alternative to leadership that doesn’t look like a person who works 8am to 8pm, is available 24/7 and on call to travel at a moment’s notice – let’s call that person ‘a man’, burdened with less unpaid work and caring expectations than a woman,” Ms Wooldridge said at the National Press Club.

A few employers were name-checked, including law firm Lander and Rogers where partners have been job sharing for the past five years “to the benefit of their clients and their colleagues”.

Ms Wooldridge’s speech followed the release of company-specific pay gap data a few weeks earlier.

The data, released for the first time this year, showed almost two-thirds of employers had gender pay gaps favouring men.

A third had a pay gap close to zero and about eight per cent were in favour of women.

Ms Wooldridge said the response to the company-level data had been “phenomenal”.

“Overall, the message for employers is clear: The time for inaction and excuses is over.”

She welcomed the dialogue shift from “equal pay for equal work” to addressing the structural and cultural inequalities that lead to differences in workplace composition, as well as pay.

“Those employers who tried to claim they didn’t have a gender pay gap because they paid men and women the same for the same job were promptly corrected,” she said.

“Those employers who acknowledged their results and the drivers of their gender pay gaps were rewarded.”

The federal government has also recently released its first-ever gender equality strategy, which included a commitment to pay super on Commonwealth-funded paid parental leave.


Poppy Johnston
(Australian Associated Press)


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