Maintenance Products

Diversity report shows little change

The objective of the survey detailed in the report is to provide quantitative data to identify areas in the careers of female employees that may require greater attention so that business benefits from a diverse and inclusive workplace. 
The survey, which is representative of over 19,500 professionals, identifies differences in pay, turnover, age at seniority levels and other factors to indicate where further work should be directed.
Two years ago the consulting sector was in the early stages of its investment in activities to meet workforce diversity and inclusion goals and the survey results of 2011 reflected that. 
There were low numbers of women, evidence of a systemic gender pay gap, and higher turnover of female staff. Today, it appears that not a lot has changed. Some indicators have improved and some have gone backwards.
Low numbers of women in each data set make the results volatile but even accounting for that there are still strong indications that the action taken by the industry since 2011 has not resulted in measurable change. 
The survey shows that the consulting industry workforce is 28.7 per cent female, well below the national workforce average of 47.7 per cent for all companies with 100 or more employees that reported to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency in 2012.
Around 15 per cent of board positions are filled by women, 24.3 per cent of professional services staff are women, and this rises to 57.7 per cent for corporate and support services staff.
Part-time majority
Most people work in full-time roles but the great majority of part-time workers are women, with men more likely to work as casual or contract staff.
The average ages of staff, and years in their current company, are usually quite similar for men and women but there is a very clear gender pay gap in almost all career streams and levels, especially for those working in corporate and support services roles. Average turnover rates are usually higher for women.
Parental leave offerings are becoming more generous but this is yet to be reflected in improvements to return to work statistics and suggests that more attention needs to be paid to what happens in the months after primary carers return to work.
In good news for employers, average retirement ages are above the national average and it appears that most companies will have about 10 years for succession planning with senior staff.
Overall, although it is not especially surprising that any positive changes to the survey data are small, the continued existence of a gender pay gap, low numbers of women and high turnover of women, is proof of a systemic problem that demands even more efforts to overcome.
Long-term goals
Greg Steele, the Australasian managing director of Consult Australia member Hyder Consulting and the chairman of Consult Australia?s Champions of Change group, said firms had shown commitment to long-term goals to improve diversity but warned that change will not be achieved overnight.
?In some areas there?s been little to no progress but this should not deter employers from pursuing activities to promote diversity and inclusion,? he said. 
?I am pleased that the Consult Australia Champions of Change group, comprised of 13 CEOs from some of Australia?s largest built environment consultancy firms has accepted the challenge of responding to all 10 recommendations made in the report.
?Long-term and systemic improvements in the data will only become entrenched when business leaders take personal responsibility for creating change. A commitment to take action is essential, can be done on an individual or collective basis, and will make a big difference towards meeting workforce diversity and inclusion goals.?
Recommendations for action are made throughout the report and summarised. The report is available at the Consult Australia website.
Sources: Consult Australia

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