Gender equality and the future of work

gender_equality

There are clear business drivers as to why organisations are investing in diversity & inclusion initiatives: diverse businesses perform better, have higher performing cultures and more readily attract customers from an increasingly diverse community.

With the rise of digital technologies as part of the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” – or Industry 4.0, more businesses are evaluating and re-organising their core functions and changing the way work is performed. This brings many opportunities to attract and retain talent from diverse groups in the labour market – including women, who are still under-represented in managerial and leadership positions and in technical roles and trades.

To address this, many businesses operating in Australia have already embedded a number of strategies aimed at fostering greater female participation and promotion to managerial levels, including through:

  • mentoring programs, scholarships for further tertiary study and unconscious bias training;
  • reviewing recruitment processes and job descriptions for certain roles in male-dominated industries;
  • expanding flexible work to encompass job redesign, flexible teams and remote or ‘mobile’ working;
  • building on flexible leave policies throughout the organisation, including extending paid parental leave arrangements to fathers and partners; and
  • building organisational KPIs around workplace inclusion.

The changing nature of work is also requiring that workers have different skills. Industry increasingly needs workers who have the relevant specialist technical skills, foundational skills including digital literacy and, importantly, new enterprise capabilities in creativity, problem solving, advanced reasoning, complex judgement, social interaction and emotional intelligence. A key component of the future workforce will be the acquisition of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) skills. Similarly, the development of management capabilities will need to ensure businesses and their workforces are transforming successfully in the face of widespread change.

Given that employment in STEM occupations is projected to grow at almost twice the pace of other occupations,[1] increased female participation in occupations and industries that require STEM skills and qualifications is critical for industry to future-proof its STEM workforce and ensure greater capability and national competitiveness.

Ai Group is proud to be an industry partner for Break the ceiling touch the sky® – the success and leadership summit for women®

Learn more from Ai Group’s CEO Innes Willox, who will form part of an expert panel speaking about gender equality and the future of work, including focusing on what skills will be in demand, challenges for business and the changing pathways to leadership.

Discounted rates apply to Ai Group members. Click here.

[1] Elizabeth Craig, et al, No Shortage of Talent: How the global market is producing the STEM skills needed for growth, Sept 2011, Accenture Institute for High Performance.

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Nicola Street
As Ai Group's National Manager – Workplace Relations Policy, Nicola is involved in employment test cases and law reform affecting the workplaces of industry. She regularly appears in the Fair Work Commission and Government Inquiries on behalf of Ai Group members, and has many years of “on the ground” strategic experience in advising employers in employment law and people & culture strategies.

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