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Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace

What is Equal Opportunity?

Equal Opportunity is about ensuring all employees are treated with fairness and respect in that they are not subject to discrimination or harassment in the workplace.  Equal Opportunity means that all employees have equal access to the opportunities that are available in the workplace.

Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act 1999

The Federal Government’s Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act 1999 (the Act) become effective on 1 January 2000 and aims to:

  • Promote the principle that employment for women should be dealt with on the basis of merit; and
  • Promote the elimination of discrimination, both direct and indirect, and the provision of equal employment opportunity for women in relation to employment matters among employers; and
  • Foster workplace consultation between employers and employees on issues concerning equal opportunity for women in relation to employment.

The Act requires Australian organisations with 100 or more employees to establish a workplace program to remove the barriers to women entering and advancing in their organisation.

The Act is administered by the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency (EOWA).  EOWA’s role is to educate and assist organisations to achieve equal opportunity for women.

Organisations required to comply with the Act need to report to EOWA annually on the their workplace programs and activities aimed at eliminating discrimination and contributing to equal opportunity for women.  Organisations can also apply to be waived from reporting for a fixed period, if they have meet certain criteria.

Swinburne is currently waived from the requirements to report to EOWA annually.

Equal Opportunity for women at Swinburne

Swinburne is committed to providing an equitable and inclusive work and study environment free from discrimination and harassment.  Swinburne is also committed to identifying and eliminating barriers that may be encountered, including the elimination of discriminatory selection criteria, access to training and development, support and mentoring.

There are a number of strategies in place at Swinburne to address these areas including:

  • Inclusion of equity principles in recruitment, selection and promotion processes
  • Access to flexible and family-friendly work arrangements
  • Inclusion of equity principles in performance review processes to ensure all managers are accountable for and aware of the importance of removing barriers
  • Workshops and mentoring programs to increase skill levels and provide development opportunities
  • Compulsory EEO training for all employees and intensive EEO training for managers and supervisors in order to educate employees on their rights and obligations regarding sex-based harassment and discrimination
  • Strategies to reduce the pay equity gap focusing on targeted recruitment, development programs and developing an inclusive organisational culture.

Swinburne has also implemented policies to promote a discrimination and harassment-free work environment for all staff to ensure they are able to work effectively and fully participate in all aspects of University life.  These policies include:

Employer of Choice for Women

In 2010 Swinburne was awarded an EOWA Employer of Choice for Women citation for the fourth year running.  Swinburne was one of 95 organisations awarded the citation. To see the media release click here.

To be recognised as an EOWA Employer of Choice for Women, employers are required to meet stringent criteria each year which include offering a minimum of 6 weeks paid maternity leave after 12 months of service; providing the ability for female managers to work part-time; ensuring the percentage of female managers is the same or greater than 28% or the industry average, and ensuring a pay equity analysis has been undertaken and any gap identified is less than their industry average.

Organisations that can demonstrate they have policies and practices that support women across the organisation and that have had positive outcomes for women and the business, can apply annually to be an EOWA Employer of Choice for Women.