Wednesday, September 14, 2011

No Time For Gender Diversity

Despite widespread recognition of the importance of workplace diversity, it still doesn't carry much weight when hiring in a hurry.

According to the opinions of Australian finance industry HR managers at the recent eFinancialCareers roundtable, HR departments are forced to be "practical" when the business has strict time pressures.

George McFerran, head of Asia-Pacific for eFinancialCareers, said, "What HR managers are telling us is that diversity is at front of mind unless there are time pressures."

McFerran added that in spite of the knowledge that gender diversity is crucial to recruitment and retention strategies, time often precludes expanding the new employee search as widely as they otherwise would have liked.

"What's a bit of a concern is that given the tight hiring marketing right now, most of the recruitment that is occurring is to replace staff – [and] is usually urgent. This could have a detrimental effect on improving gender diversity in the workplace and may even see it slipping backwards," McFerran said.

Further, research from the Financial Services Institute of Australia (FINSIA) has shown that even with the increase in the participation rates of women in the Australian finance industry over the last 30 years, the number of roles filled by women further up the ladder is low compared to other industries, and in some cases is actually in decline.

Earlier this week during a speech marking the 15th year of the Labor women's network Emily's list, Prime Minister Gillard urged the corporate sector to pick up its act in terms of gender equality and for more women to join the labour force to help boost productivity.

Gillard said that Australia's workplace participation rate of almost 60% for women was extremely low by international standards, and rated a surprising 44th in the world.

"That's too many women missing out on the dignity and benefits of work, especially those like single mums and older women who want to work but don't always have the chance," Gillard said.

"The source of productivity is right here amongst us, in the suburbs and towns of our nation just waiting to be included, waiting for the skills and the incentives to connect them with the workforce and make them part of Australia's opportunity story," Ms Gillard said.

There are still too many barriers to women's participation in last-bastion fields such as engineering, mining and the military, the PM said.

She lamented that 115 years have passed since women first cast a vote in Australia, yet some 87% of public companies still did not have a single woman on their boards.

"This is unacceptable and I say to those companies: this is 2011, not 1911, just get on with it," Gillard said.

Thanks to Human Capital / Key Media Pty Ltd / HCA Mag


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