Champions of Change Coalition report show improved gender equality

Champions of Change Coalition Annual report outlines positive shift towards gender equality


Champions of Change Coalition released its 2021 Impact Report this week which assesses their Coalition Members’ impact on gender equality in the past 12 months.

This year’s Impact Report is the Coalition’s fourth, outlining the actions taken from data contributions from more than 180 Member organisations operating around Australia and internationally in one of the largest cross-sector voluntary public disclosures on gender equality measures.

The results from this year’s report demonstrate a rise in women’s representation across all leadership categories, with 84.9 percent of member organisations achieving gender balance in recruitment, and 81.3 percent achieving rates of women’s promotion that are either gender balanced or greater than women’s representation overall. 

Eighty-two percent of member organisations achieved or moved closer to gender balance overall since 2020, though just 59.1 percent achieved gender balance in key management personnel.

In their attempts to create positive conditions that fosters a thriving work environment, 97.2 of organisations have policies to enable flexible access to parental leave for parents, while 95.1 percent have initiatives in place to support employees experiencing or supporting family/friends experiencing, domestic and family violence – up from 84.5 percent in 2020. 

One in nine companies revised their approach to enabling flexible work in the past 12 months to reflect opportunities realised during COVID 19, while one in eight took specific action to highlight everyday sexism in the workplace. 

Almost ninety percent of companies have systems and structures in place to address bias in recruitment and promotions, while three quarters continue to oversee the conduct and actioning of outcomes on pay equity audits at least every two years. 

Elizabeth Broderick AO, Founder Champions of Change Coalition, believes there is still a long way to go before companies achieve systemic gender parity.

“Sexual harassment is a health and safety issue that prevails in cultures where disrespect goes unchecked,” she said in a statement. “We know the immense harm it causes to individuals and the impact on an organisation’s reputation when appropriate action isn’t taken to prevent or respond to incidents.” 

“Workplace dynamics have absolutely changed and we acknowledge the commitment and disruptive actions of our Champions of Change Members and Groups working hard on a different response.”

Currently, only 66.7 percent of the organisations publicly disclose gender equality targets and annual progress against them, which is a reduction from 68.1 percent in 2020. 

The report also listed a number of practical actions member organisations have taken in the last 12 months to accelerate change and prevent sexual harassment. 

Three quarters of Board and executive leadership teams have committed to eradicate sexual harassment and articulated their zero-tolerance position, while 77.2 percent have taken action to review reporting options to ensure multiple confidential avenues for employees impacted by sexual harassment.

More than half of member companies have established regular reporting on sexual harassment to the Board or executive leadership team, while 58.2 percent have adapted workplace health and safety strategies to incorporate sexual harassment as a physical and psychological safety issue.

Just over 70 percent of companies have reviewed employee education to better support all employees identify sexual harassment, while 60.9 percent have invested in building internal support capability or expand relationships with external support services. 

Annika Freyer, CEO Champions of Change Coalition, believes that an essential part of the Coalition’s strategy involves companies challenging the status quo and shifting the systems of inequality beyond their organisations. 

“The Coalition is committed to disrupt the systems of inequality in our society,” she said. “Gender equality is a human issue, an economic issue and a core business issue.”

“Throughout COVID19’s disruptions and in recovery Coalition Members have come together to seize the opportunities to accelerate change and guard against risks of falling backwards on gender equality.”

This year, Champions of Change collaborated with partner organisations including Microsoft Australia, UN Equals and Property Council of Australia, to outline practical steps for leaders to take to maintain a steady focus on gender equality. 

In October, the group announced plans to work with the CEOs of Telstra and Microsoft to engineer programs that aim to reduce gender discrimination in the digital economy. The project, called “12 Commitments for Gender Equality and the Digital Economy, is a cross Coalition platform aimed at accelerating gender equality among Members from Founding, Health, Global TECH and Microsoft Partners, and STEM groups . 

Last month, the Playing our Part: A Framework for Workplace Action on Domestic and Family Violence project was announced. In partnership with Challenge DV, No to Violence, Our Watch, Full Stop Foundation, UNSW Gendered Violence Research Network and WESNET, the framework provides practical actions and resources for organisations to advance their approach to the prevention and response to domestic and family violence in the workplace.

Another framework, released earlier in the year, assesses corporate giving and community partnership programs to better understand the beneficiaries of the money, time, product and in-kind investment given to the not-for-profit sector to assist and solve challenging social issues.

The project, Sharpening our Focus on Corporate Giving: Keeping Gender Equality in the Frame, is a partnership with leading national NFP advocate for gender-wise philanthropy, Australians investing in Women.

You can read the full report, here.

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