At the current rate of change, it will likely take about 100 years to achieve true gender equality, so the idea that it will simply ‘get better over time’ is outdated. Nothing is going to happen without a concerted effort to speed
the pace of change in Australia and globally.
Over the past few years it has become clear that a shift in attitudes is more likely to occur when we focus more intensely on the problem. For example, the announcement of changes to government standards covering diversity, the publication of
gender diversity statistics by companies and the setting of gender diversity targets are all ‘shining a spotlight’ on the issue of gender diversity and increasing public pressure for meaningful change at the corporate level.
However, the pressure to change is spread unevenly across the economy.
Transparency and reporting requirements are accelerating the pace of change amongst some listed companies, where pressure can come from scrutiny by investment analysts, publicly available information on gender diversity and wellorganised shareholder
By contrast, smaller companies and those that are privately owned face less pressure as the public simply has less visibility over their operations. For example, amongst small healthcare companies (less than $100m market capitalisation), only
9 percent of board roles are currently held by women7.
This suggests we need to further encourage companies to set clear gender equality objectives, and possibly implement measures such as gender diversity targets and quotas to help align interests across the broader economy.
There is also a role for governments, both State and Federal, to better promote gender equality. This includes role modelling gender equality in Parliament and other government workplaces, promoting clear objectives and expectations around gender
issues and having the appropriate policies in place to promote gender equality across the broader economy and facilitate the structural changes required to make it a reality.