Gender parity contains the potential to increase economic opportunities in Australia and Asia-Pacific as a region. On Equal Pay Day in Australia, August 31, we celebrated the pay gap being at its lowest point in 20 years. However, there’s still a way for us to go before we “ring the bell” (is this only an IT thing?).
McKinsey released a report earlier this year predicting a $225 billion increase in Australia’s GDP by 2025. Despite this expected growth and women currently comprising 42% of Australia’s workforce, females make up only 10% of CEOs. Currently, women have a 59% dropoff in the transition point from key management roles to the top spot, the highest out of any other cohort.
This represents an enormous problem but also, to look on the bright side, it is an opportunity to empower women in the workforce and increase women in key strategic leadership positions.
The financial and insurance sector has seen improvements on the issue of gender parity with a reduction of the gender pay gap from 29.9% to 28.5%. This was the result of successive and comprehensive pay equity audits from 2015 to 2017. Despite this, when factoring in base and total salaries, financial and insurance services have the highest gender pay gap for full-time workers. The percentage of women participating in the workforce is expected to increase to 59% by 2025. This presents innumerable possibilities for women across industries and could unlock pathways to women in leadership if we remain proactive.
I recently had the privilege of speaking at the Women in Business conference in Wellington. As a female CFO, I think it pertinent that we address the issue of gender parity by developing equitable workplaces. We need to create environments where the skills of professional women are valued, not simply treated as a diversity box to “tick off.” It is important that industries address the economic and social issues caused by gender inequity by implementing comprehensive and meaningful strategies that aim for balance in the workplace.
Encouraging gender parity in the workplace produces a range of rich perspectives and pushes the boundaries of innovation. Collaborating with organizations like Global Digital Women and implementing the Leadership Excellence Acceleration Program means that companies like SAP create pathways for women to thrive in industries historically driven by men. Increasing opportunities for women to apply and attain leadership roles is made possible by ensuring that women possess the necessary skills to progress in their chosen careers, and that men and women build workplace initiatives that encourage gender parity.
Many of our customers embrace this as a sign of a best-run business and have proactive initiatives for gender equality and practices to support this in the workplace. For example, to go back to the banking industry: NAB encourages flexible work arrangements for its employees, with 85% of employees stating “they have the flexibility to accommodate their work and external priorities.” Collectively and across industries, the increasing push for gender parity is attainable through empowering women in sectors like tech and finance where men significantly outnumber women.
Technology is valuable when improving organizational operations, and combining this with gender parity initiatives results in a more equitable future for women in the workplace. Diversifying workplaces allows businesses to expand their operational reach financially and lessens social and economic problems caused by the gender pay gap. It opens doors for women to wield digital innovations to their advantage when progressing into key leadership roles.