According to the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), Australian companies in industries that are male-dominated are not doing enough to attract female employees, particularly in non-traditional roles. BHP Billiton, AGL and contractor John Holland have already moved to address the issue but many others have not.
In order to enable employers to recruit and retain women in their workforce the AHRC has released a “toolkit of strategies”, including a new interactive website designed to encourage dialogue and the sharing of information between relevant companies and industries.
Throughout the toolkit, which is available online and as hardcopy, companies can submit information about how they are approaching the problem and how successful that approach has been.
The numbers of women working in construction, mining and utilities account for just 12 per cent, 15 per cent and 23 per cent of the workforce respectively, according to figures provided by the AHRC, despite women making up 46 per cent of all Australian employees.
By improving the number of women in these industries it will address not only gender equality but also industry performance and it will develop Australia’s economy, according to Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick.
Narrowing the gap between male and female employment rates has the potential to boost Australia’s GDP by 11 per cent, according to recent data by Goldman Sachs.
“Australia ranks fourth in the world in talent shortages and many male-dominated industries are suffering a lack of skilled workers,” Broderick said.
“Encouraging greater women’s participation in these industries is one solution that could go a long way to addressing these skills shortages.If we are to build strong economies, if we are to access the best talent that exists in this country, then women are very much part of that picture.?
Broderick said she doesn’t believe women are avoiding such industries due to a “lack of interest” but their cultures could be perceived as masculine and “blokey” and so could affect participation.
The toolkit is available through the Australian Human Rights Commission website.
Sources: Women?s Agenda, Australian Human Rights Commission, The Australian