Keeping women in work is good for business and people. So how do we do it?

By CCIWA Editor

WA women with young children are the least likely in the country to work more than 20 hours a week. So what can business do about it?

Head to our advocacy page to:

Labour market participation across Australia

Note: Average participation rates from September 2018 to September 2020. Seasonally adjusted for all jurisdictions except NT and ACT. Only original data is available for NT and ACT. Source: ABS, ‘6202.0 – Labour Force, Australia’, Table 12, released 15/10/2020.

There's an abundance of research on the economic and social benefits of women's inclusion in the workforce.

When women stop working after having children, they suffer a financial penalty in lost earning hours and career opportunities. 

For the WA economy, it means losing the talents, experience and drive of working women. 

For women in managerial and supervisory roles, the losses are often higher because business loses the extra output those women generate from their teams. 

Grattan Institute
Grattan Institute
McKinsey and Company

Key to changing women's workforce participation in WA is tax disincentives and government subsidies for kindergarten.

Find out more at CCIWA's Making paid work pay for families with children.

But businesses also play a role in creating cultures that encourage dads to spend more time raising their young children, making work easier for mums.

Employers can look at providing greater flexibility in the way existing parental leave and flexible work entitlements can be used and promoting their use by male employees.

Access to flexible work practices for all employees has been found to bring significant bottom-line benefits.

Below, are tips for organisations on how to help shift the gender stereotypes of the female homemaker and male breadwinner.

Promoting organisational change

Recognise the value proposition:

  • - Identify the benefit of increased workplace flexibility in terms of productivity, staff retention, attracting job candidates and reduced absenteeism.

Know where you are and where you want to be:

  • - Benchmark the level of flexibility you currently offer and look for opportunities to improve upon this.
  • - Identify who is and is not using your current flexibilities and set realistic goals.

Identify the barriers to change:

  • - Question the assumptions on which your existing workplace flexibilities are based.
  • - Consider how your existing policies can be amended to promote their use by both male and female staff.
  • - Look for positive examples that dispel myths and stereotypes.

Champion change:

  • - Identify who in your organisation will champion the change. • Have senior management role model working flexibly and managing a flexible team.
  • - Have conversations with male employees about their family and caring responsibilities and whether flexible work arrangements can assist them.

Monitor progress and celebrate success:

  • - Monitor uptake of flexible work options by male employees.
  • - Listen to staff about their experiences and address issues.
  • - Identify and share your success stories.

Find out more

Business Toolbox contains a range of resources to answer your questions about parental leave. Go deeper:

Parental leave 101

There are mandatory entitlements to unpaid parental leave available to all eligible employees. Do you know what they are? Read more... 

Government-funded parental leave

The paid parental leave (PPL) scheme is not a leave entitlement, but a govenment funded payment. What do you need to do to make sure your employee can access it? Read more...

Parental leave FAQs

Confused about parental leave? We answer your most frequently asked questions. Read more...

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