Working towards gender equality International Women’s Day 

Early March brings International Women’s Day where globally, we promote gender equality, and celebrate women.

Despite the growing awareness and significance of this day, within the workplaces in Australia Women still face many challenges when it comes to pay, discrimination, and bullying.

A Women In Media Report released last year, shared some of the reposes of those surveyed and the challenged females in the Media industry are faced with.

 “The gender pay gap has not improved”

According to Australian Government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency, there is a gender pay gap in every industry in Australia. A frightening concept meaning that financially, women are not on an even keel in any Australian industry.

The Australian average sits at 16.2%, and has hovered between 15% and 19% for the last twenty years. However, the Media industry sits some 7 points higher, with the gender pay gap at 23.3%. Only just over a third of women earn in excess of $72,000 in Media, whereas for men it’s over half.

Of the women surveyed in the Women In Media Report, only 2% of respondents believe there is parity with remuneration. A startling fact that so few women in the industry believe they are getting a just wage for effort.

There is increasing onus on organisations, as a whole, to be aware of discrepancies with pay. For organisations, auditing their pay is an important and proactive step towards reducing the entrenched gender pay gap. These reviews happen every 12-18 months at Isentia and aim to eliminate any discrepancies, which they did in the last reporting year, allowing for a prompt and successful salary review.

Discrimination challenges women at different stages of their career

In addition to pay inconsistencies, women in the workforce are often faced with different forms of discrimination, exacerbating gender inequality.

Despite being illegal, only a third of the surveyed women believed that their workplace operated on a merit based situation, limiting the furthering of their careers. This belief was higher in more tenured staff, than those new to media.  

Of most concern, one in four didn’t even know if their organisation had policies in place to combat discrimination in their workplace.

Being a 24-hour, always on industry, parents have also found challenges in family life. Nearly half of mothers (reduced to a quarter of fathers) experienced some discrimination during either pregnancy, parental leave or on the return to work.

With less flexibilities, parents are forced to make tough decisions about their careers, and their work/life balance. Increases in paid parental leave, and more flexible working conditions, are important initiatives, especially in Media.

Bullying – no longer just a concern in the playground

We often associate bullying as the challenge exclusive to children in the playground. Unfortunately, it can be just as prevalent in Australian workplaces.

Nearly half of the surveyed women indicated they had experienced intimidation, abuse or sexual harassment in the workplace. This can present itself from exclusion through to direct physical harassment.

Sadly, this is in line with a survey by the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance where just of half of female journalist respondents reported experience harassment. This survey was conducted in 1996, showing little improvement in 20 odd years.

In 2013, the Australian Army took one of the more public and vocal stances against bullying and discrimination with this video, following allegations of sexual harassment. Their stance and clear denouncing of such staff.

This week, gender equality issues come back to the fore. As a result of the report, the steering committee from Women In Media are calling for three changes for companies and organisations;

  • Audits, and action, on the entrenched gender pay gap
  • Improved strategies for social media harassment
  • Anti-discrimination policies to be put into place

It’s up to all organisations, from Media to other industries, to work towards gender equality.