Championing gender equality
Published: Monday 1st June 2015
Message from Vice-Chancellor Professor Greg Craven (with Associate Vice-Chancellor (NSW) Professor Marea Nicholson)
I am pleased that in recent years ACU has continued to be a leader in championing gender equality in the higher education sector. I believe that embedding flexible work practices at ACU is critical to achieving gender equality, and I am proud of the flexibility that the University can provide for our staff members. I am pleased to note that our pioneering parental leave provisions are utilised by both men and women carers, and that the retention rate of staff returning from parental leave has increased to 96 per cent. In addition, a significant number of staff (close to three quarters of all respondents in our latest myVoice staff satisfaction survey) reported that they use flexible work arrangements. I am committed to making further improvements at ACU that will enable both women and men to reach their full potential at work.
Our latest myVoice survey also affirmed ACU’s safe working environment, with 90 per cent of respondents stating they felt that sex-based harassment is not tolerated at our University. Yet through my role as a White Ribbon Ambassador, I am also aware that sadly not everyone enjoys a safe home environment in our society. This is why ACU became one of the first Australian universities to provide leave entitlements to assist victims of domestic violence. The University wishes to ensure that staff members who experience domestic or family violence – many of which are women – can access paid leave to support their wellbeing and safety.
Support for women to progress their career and move into leadership roles is also key to achieving gender equality in our sector. In the last year ACU continued to have a strong representation of women leaders, with women representing 59 per cent of our managers and 43 per cent of our professors and senior academic leaders. ACU also supports academic career advancement through the provision of three annual $12,500 Research Awards for Academic Women Staff. These awards are provided for staff returning to work after a break relating to parenting responsibilities, to support them in re-establishing their research profile.
ACU also seeks to influence gender equality more broadly across the sector by supporting the development of skills for women in senior roles. Associate Vice-Chancellor (Sydney) Professor Marea Nicholson is the co-chair for the Universities Australia Executive Women group (UAEW), and ACU continues to host regular UAEW events. UAEW events and workshops provide an opportunity for women who aspire to progress into leadership positions to learn from leading academics and a broad range of leaders across the higher education professions.
Due to our strong foundations, we are now in position to further our commitment to achieving gender equality in the workplace. Later this year, ACU will launch the Gender Equality Strategy 2015 – 2020, that aims to integrate gender equality into the University’s core business and planning.
Some highlights of the strategy include:
· Continuing our commitment to achieving pay equality by setting targets to decrease the pay gap between men and women in ACU’s senior roles;
· Supporting ACU’s staff to utilise flexible work with the launch of new Flexible Work Guidelines and training for managers;
· A focus on improving support for staff with parental responsibilities, such as accessibility of childcare facilities;
· Ensuring ACU maintains its safe working environment through ensuring that all new staff and managers are trained in the prevention of sex-based discrimination;
· Review our key strategies and policies to ensure that they support overall gender equality, including strategies relating to recruitment, retention, performance management processes, promotions, talent identification, succession planning, training and development and resignations.
Through achieving the goals of the Gender Equality Strategy 2015 - 2020, we will ensure that ACU not only meets standards set by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), but also continues to lead in achieving workplace equality. We hope that our new strategies, along with our ongoing achievements, will ensure we maintain ACU’s status as a WGEA Employer of Choice in Gender Equality, when we apply for the citation again in July.