New equality act challenge for financial services

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The new Federal Workplace Gender Equality Act will provide the male-dominated financial services industry in Australia with quite a challenge.

Under the act, employers of firms with 100 or more staff will have to report against a set of ‘gender equality indicators’, including the number of men and women at different levels in their organisation. In addition, whether male and female workers are being paid equally will be closely monitored.

Ramifications for firms that don’t comply include the likelihood of being publically named and shamed in Parliament.

George McFerran, managing director of eFinancialCareers Asia Pacific, says compliance is not enough to change the culture and perception of the industry.

“If the financial services industry is going to attract people from the widest talent pool, it must convince a new generation of women it has changed for the better” says McFerran.

Ways that firms can address gender equality and attract female workers include:

  • Being prepared to step up and broadcast gender equity practices, coupled with campaigns that engage with women
  • Having female role models in senior positions is not enough – firms need to be transparent about their equitable recruitment and selection policies, promotion, development and flexible working arrangements

The opportunity for financial service firms to become an employer of choice for qualified and talented women is there, according to eFinancialCareers. It requires engaging with women in a new way if financial service firms are to redress the balance.

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