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"Over the last decade or so, gender equality in the workplace has become not just the right thing to do but an economic imperative right around the world. It truly is a global movement."

There are many ways workplaces can support the women working within their organisation and strive towards gender equality. The way an organisation will do this will depend on the size and type of organisation. Some ways employers can work towards gender equality include:

  • Addressing pay disparity by performing a gender pay gap analysis and ensuring women are paid at the same rates as men.

  • Perform a gender equity audit to identify where organisational changes can be made.
  • Increasing workplace flexibility for everyone, not just mothers. This will encourage men to contribute more to unpaid caring work, taking some of the burden off women.

  • Providing superannuation payments during parental leave, to help boost women’s superannuation for retirement.

  • Increasing the number of women and gender diverse staff, at all levels including management.

  • Developing family violence policies and procedures to assist employees who are experiencing family violence.

  • Developing and implementing a strong policy against sexual harassment in the workplace and a supportive workplace culture for women.

  • Provide gender lens and unconscious bias training for all staff.

For more information about developing and implementing these policies visit the Workplace Gender Equality Agency website, VicHealth's Generating Equality and Respect resources

Our Watch's Workplace Equality and Respect standards provide information and resources on how to create a more equitable workplace. The standards consist of:

Commitment -you are committed to preventing violence against women and have structures, strategies and policies that explicitly promote gender equality.
Conditions - You embed gender equality in your recruitment, remuneration and promotion processes. Men and women utilise flexible work options, without penalty.
Culture - All staff feel safe and confident to express themselves. Gender stereotypes, roles and norms are actively challenged in the workplace. Staff can raise concerns about gender inequality and potential discrimination without adverse consequences.
Support - You have the structures, practices and culture to ensure an appropriate response to staff and external stakeholders who experience violence, bullying and sexual harassment.
Core business - The work you do and the way you promote it aligns with your commitment to gender equality and the prevention of violence against women.

Head to the Workplace Equality and Respect website to find out how these standards can be embedded into your workplace.

Family Violence and the Workplace

Family violence can have a huge impact on someone’s work life, and there are many ways an employer can support staff who may be experiencing abuse. Staying in paid employment can be a valuable lifeline to someone experiencing family violence, keeping them financially independent and preventing further social isolation.

Family violence is a pattern of behaviours used by one person to assert power and control over a family member or someone they are in a relationship with. It can include both physical and non-physical forms of violence. Find out more on our page what is family violence?

Experiencing violence doesn’t just affect a person’s home life, but all aspects of their lives including work. Employees experiencing violence may seem tired or distracted, have to miss work and use up their leave entitlements, be late to work, have to hide injuries or find it difficult to be productive. This can lead to performance management issues and even a loss of employment. Family violence is an OH&S issue, and should be treated as such by employers.

Having family violence policies in place can make it easier for staff and management to navigate situations of family violence, ensuring employees experiencing violence are given the support they need.

Family violence policies should include:

Paid family violence leave - all workers covered under modern awards are entitled to five days of unpaid family violence leave, although many workplaces provide their staff with paid leave. Considering the negative financial impacts of family violence and financial abuse, offering paid leave will ensure employees can still meet their basic needs. The ACTU has a model family violence leave clause that can be inserted into EBAs.

Flexible working conditions - flexible hours and working conditions may make it easier for someone experiencing violence to stay in paid employment.

Training for staff - all staff, in particular management and HR staff, should be trained in recognising and responding to family violence. For help choosing an organisation to deliver training to your workplace take a look at the Choosing Family Violence and Gender Equity Training and Consultancy that Delivers Results document.

Designated family violence contacts - having designated family violence contacts who are trained to respond to disclosures of violence can make it easier for an employee to ask for support. All staff should be aware of who these contacts are and how they may be able to help those experiencing family violence.

Policies for dealing with employees perpetrating violence - as well as having employees that are victims of family violence employers should be aware that they may have employees who are perpetrating family violence. Some of this violence may even be perpetrated whilst in the workplace. Employers should have strong policies and procedures in case this occurs. More information about how to do this can be found in the guide understanding family violence as a workplace issue.

WIRE provides information and support to organisations wishing to improve their practices, policies and procedures that support women. For more information get in touch with Women & Money Project Manager Georgie Proud.


What is family violence?