Indigenous women with caring responsibilities most likely to face discrimination at work

Indigenous women with caring responsibilities most likely to face discrimination at work

workplace

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who are mothers or carers are the most likely group to experience discrimination in Australian workplaces.

That’s according to a new report released on Tuesday, that found Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women with caring responsibilities are experiencing a ‘triple jeopardy’ when it comes to their experiences of discrimination and exclusion at work.

Indigenous women who are carers are the least likely to be supported when they experience racism or unfair treatment, and are more likely to feel unsafe in their workplace. They are also more likely to carry the “cultural load” in their workplace, that is, the extra unpaid work and expectations to educate others to make the workplace more culturally sensitive.

These findings come from a follow up of the Gari Yala (Speak the Truth) report that focused on gendered insights, a collaboration between the UTS Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research, the Diversity Council of Australia, and the Workplace Gender Equality Agency.

The report marks the first time the experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in Australian workplaces have been examined.

Dr Olivia Evans, the report’s author, said the report’s findings provide a deeper understanding on the intersection of gender and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander identity in Australian workplaces.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women had significantly less support in culturally unsafe situations and had the highest cultural load,” Dr Evans said.

“These results suggest that trends of women’s disadvantage and marginalisation in the workplace are also present in the workplace experiences related to culture and identity.”

The 2021 Gari Yala report highlights the need for managers to create safe workplaces for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, especially those with caring responsibilities.

Nareen Young, Industry Professor at the Jumbunna Institute, said the institute was proud to share the gendered insights into the Indigenous employment sector.

“This report provides insights into the barriers Indigenous women face at work and the need for better support mechanisms for Indigenous women in the workplace,” Young said.

Lisa Annese, CEO of the Diversity Council of Australia, said the insights from the report demonstrate that women with intersectional identities face particular barriers in the workforce. It demonstrates “how important it is that workplaces take the time to understand the diverse experiences of different women”.

“This report is an important milestone: the first in-depth research into the experiences of Indigenous women in the workplace,” said Mary Wooldridge, Director of the Workplace Gender Equality Agency.

“It helps to pave a way for employers to understand what is happening for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women inside businesses, and what must be done to recognise their unique experiences to ensure they are supported and enabled as valued employees.”

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