Human Resources

At the leading edge of gender equality practice: Pharma and MedTech employers drive meaningful progress

Health Industry Hub | March 1, 2023 |

Human Resources: There is a strong business case for workplace gender equality, including increased organisational performance, enhanced organisational reputation, and an improved ability to attract talent and retain top employees.

New analysis has revealed that Australian employers awarded the Employer of Choice for Gender Equality (EOCGE) citation by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) are closing gender pay gaps faster and successfully implementing work environments that support more equal sharing of caring responsibilities at home.

EOCGE citation holders across the pharma and medtech sectors included AbbVie, AstraZeneca, Baxter, Johnson & Johnson, Medtronic, Philips, Sanofi, MSD and Thermo Fisher Scientific.

Today’s launch of the new analysis proves that a commitment to change is getting results.

WGEA Director Mary Wooldridge said the results were encouraging for all employers seeking to accelerate change in their workplaces.

“EOCGE employers have made gender equality an integral component of their business strategies and they’re seeing results,” Ms Wooldridge said.

Nathalie McNeil, Vice President and General Manager at AbbVie ANZ said the EOCGE 2021-2023 citation for the company was a reflection of the important work AbbVie does to ensure the workplace is somewhere that everyone is equally valued.

“Inclusion is at the heart of our culture and gender equity is an important part of that. It’s fundamental that all employees feel they can thrive regardless of their gender or any other diversity characteristic. We have a proud history as trail blazers when it comes to gender equity and the citation is formal recognition of our deep commitment to driving positive change. We are very proud to be recognised as an employer of choice,” she said.

Brendan Cummins, General Manager for Baxter Australia and New Zealand, told Health Industry Hub “As one of the largest diversified healthcare companies in Australia, Baxter Healthcare is committed to accelerating the change for gender equality across the healthcare industry.

“We are proud to be recognised for an eighth consecutive year as a leader in workplace gender equality. From our senior leaders, managers and all employees across our business, we are committed to creating a workplace that supports and encourages full participation of women and men where careers can thrive and employees feel they belong.”

Ms Wooldridge added “With the upcoming legislative reforms requiring WGEA to publish employer gender pay gaps, the results of this new analysis show that with intentional leadership and a commitment to gender equality, an employer can reduce their gender pay gap for the benefit of all their employees.”

“Critically, EOCGE employers are delivering an approach that results in better support structures in place for working families; stronger actions to address pay inequalities; and strategic recruitment, promotion and retention practices that encourage the full participation of women at work.”

Agency research, produced in partnership with the University of Queensland, analysed the impact of actions taken by EOCGE employers over a five-year period. It found that citation holders were seeing a faster reduction in their gender pay gaps, have a higher proportion of women in management and a stronger pipeline of women moving into senior management.

In fact, EOCGE certified employers had an average gender pay gap of 17.4% – 26% lower than non-EOCGE certified employers and they had more women on governing bodies – 37.2%, compared to 31% for others.

Additionally, these employers provided longer periods of employer-funded parental leave for primary carers – an average of 14.1 weeks for EOCGEs compared to 11.2 weeks. More male managers were inspired to take primary carer’s leave, equating to 34% in EOCGE organisations compared to 18% in companies with no citation.

Ms Wooldridge said this research, as well as feedback from CEOs of EOCGE applicant organisations, indicated the value of the citation as a catalyst to improve their gender equality strategies.

“Through the application process, CEOs told us that being an employer of choice continues to expose their blind spots, that it’s a good framework that challenges and drives them to continually improve and keeps them focussed on their gender equality objectives,” Ms Wooldridge said.

“In many cases, CEOs admit they wish they hadn’t waited to address gender equality in their workplace, with one leader telling us: ‘once you go down this path and see the benefits, you wish you had started earlier’.

“EOCGEs are proving that enlightened employers can reap benefits to employee satisfaction, productivity and profitability with innovative actions to improve gender equality at all levels of the organisation.”

The Agency’s certification process also requires employee confirmation that there’s a zero-tolerance approach to gender-based harassment and sexual harassment, and that managers genuinely create environments within their teams that support equality for all employees. This step ensures EOCGE-certified employers are not simply putting strategies in place, but that they are striving for and delivering lasting change by firmly embedding gender equality in company culture.

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