Complete tosh from the WGEA

The fact that there is something called the Workplace Gender Equality Agency is scary enough.  If I had time, I would find out how much this superfluous piece of interfering nonsense actually costs.  My guess is around $35 to $40 million per year.  I think there are about 70 staff, virtually all women (where’s the equality in this?, I ask).

But here’s the bit I really love: the director thinks that all this mandatory reporting (which is completely inaccurate and why any researcher would not touch it with a barge pole) is actually helpful to companies and that the agency provides confidential benchmarking documents to companies which can then be used to .. improve gender equality.

(And if Helen Conway, Director of WGEA, understood anything about economics, which she clearly does not,she would realise the participation and productivity are not the same thing.  Forcing more women into the workforce would probably lower productivity because the most productive have the strongest incentives to participated.)

PLEASE … why would any sensible business person use the services of ideologically and ill-trained public servants for any sort of advice?

And as for all those surveys of business declaring they really love the reporting and find it really really useful, again PLEASE.  These surveys will be filled in by the twinks in the HR department, almost always women, who can make work for themselves by virtue of these government requirements.  And let’s face it, most people who work in HR departments are really oxygen thieves as far as the business is concerned, many of them of whom would not be there were it not for all the regulatory claptrap with which companies must comply.

Here’s the apologia from Helen:

It is universally accepted Australia must increase productivity, and long-term fiscal challenges will put more pressure on the public purse.

Increasing female workforce participation is one of the key levers we can pull to grow our economy. Goldman Sachs and JBWere have calculated closing the gap between male and female employment rates could increase GDP by 13 per cent and the Grattan Institute says increasing female workforce participation by 6 per cent could add $25 billion to the nation’s bottom line.

The present female workforce participation statistics reflect a market failure. The lack of women in senior positions, low participation rates for women from 25 to 44, and the large proportion of women working part-time – double the OECD average – all point to an inefficient use of our female talent. Despite the World Economic Forum ranking Australia equal first for female educational attainment, we have slipped to 52nd for female labour participation.

To correct this imbalance and encourage more women into work, we must help employers translate their good intentions on gender equality into action that will increase the number of women in the workforce. Company-specific, standardised gender reporting data is a critical part of the picture.

From this year, reporting to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency will be based on gender equality indicators including gender workforce composition, pay equity and flexible working arrangements, and will be focused on outcomes.

This output data will give an unprecedented picture of gender performance in Australian workplaces, allowing the agency to develop a customised, confidential benchmark report for each organisation that reports to us. This will be a powerful business intelligence tool. Employers will be able to compare gender performance with their peers, identify areas to improve and track the effectiveness of gender equality strategies over time.

It has been suggested gender reporting will divert resources from implementing initiatives to improve female workforce participation. On the contrary, the benchmark reports will enable employers to target their efforts where they are most needed so they are not wasting resources.

Importantly, there is strong support for this new framework. Of the 2522 employers surveyed by the agency last year, about 90 per cent supported the new reporting requirements. Almost 80 per cent said benchmark reports would be valuable or very valuable.

It was also suggested data to be reported to the agency duplicates existing data. Incorrect. Unlike existing data, the agency’s reporting data will give employers relevant organisation-specific information they need to create solutions that will drive change. Macro-level workforce indicators generated by the Australian Bureau of Statistics won’t cut it. While such data helps paint a broad national picture of the gender equality problem, it is of little relevance to an individual employer and highly unlikely to compel change – something painfully obvious given the lack of progress to date.

Other data sources are incomplete, not suitably specific and not standardised, so not useful to individual organisations.

Non-public sector organisations with 100 or more employees are required to report to the agency. Despite suggestions organisations at the lower end of this scale will find reporting an undue burden, the agency’s assessment, after relevant feedback, is that this is not so. A PwC report last week indicates a readiness and willingness by small and medium enterprises to report – likely be easier for smaller than larger organisations.

Gender reporting is not red tape. But it is important employers get a return on their reporting commensurate with the effort of reporting. This means achieving an appropriate balance in the matters to be reported and providing valuable data in return. This is what the benchmark reports are all about.

Make no mistake: if we fail to equip employers with the information they need to improve workplace gender equality, we limit our nation’s future growth. But it is my hope we will look back on this time as the watershed moment where Australia began treating workplace gender equality as the economic imperative it is.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

48 Responses to Complete tosh from the WGEA

  1. Louis Hissink

    Hee, hee I received a telephone call from some WGEA representative last year concerning not having supplied our affirmative action document. Company I was working for had a name similar to a famous, Australia-wide, bread making franchise. The girlie at the end of the telephone line simply could not accept we only had 4 employees, and the gender balance was CEO and office geologist – female, myself and field assistant – males. Sadly, being retired means I can’t bait public servants anymore…..

  2. Ubique

    “And let’s face it, most people who work in HR departments are really oxygen thieves as far as the business is concerned …”

    Clint Eastwood as Dirt Harry nailed it years ago:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGCMyF-sA58

  3. Rabz

    Shut. It. Down.

    Fire. Them. All.

  4. Sometimes I think you go too easy on them Judith.

  5. Judith, a great post. See http://newmarksdoor.typepad.com/mainblog/2005/08/some_notes_on_c.html for a good discussion of comparable worth:

    A comparable worth law is analytically identical to a minimum wage law, a minimum wage imposed on jobs held primarily by women. Economists’ theoretical and empirical research on minimum wage laws suggests the law would therefore have the following effects.
    1) Some women would receive increased pay and, especially in the short run, would be unambiguously better off.
    2) Other women, however, would be worse off. They would bear two kinds of costs: some would have their work hours cut below what they would like to have, or they would lose their jobs altogether; some would see their working conditions worsen (fewer fringe benefits and more effort demanded). These costs would tend to grow over time.
    3) Which women would win and which would lose? Experience suggests that less educated, younger, and minority women would be more likely to lose.
    4) The number of people needed to enforce the law would grow, and the legal apparatus needed to enforce the law would broaden and become more convoluted.

    When Newmark discussed how never-married men earn less than never married women, one objection instantly raised by one of his female MBA students was “That proves nothing other than that never-married men are losers!”

  6. calli

    It is universally accepted Australia must increase productivity

    LOL. Helen Conway channelling Jane Austen.

    It is universally acknowledged that useless bureaucrats and interfering busybodies should have their departments closed down and be made to serve out the remainder of their contract in a windowless room with a desk, telephone and fax.

    Or alternatively, what Rabz said.

  7. jupes

    PLEASE … why would any sensible business person use the services of ideologically and ill-trained public servants for any sort of advice?

    You mean like hiring the Sex Discrimination Commissioner to advise on employment of women in the ADF?

  8. Mike of Marion

    Had to put up this interfering mob for years before my retirement in 2009. Just HM reams of BS you have to pad your returns to appease them.

  9. Leigh Lowe

    Seriously, what do they actually do.
    They don’t have regulatory powers (thank Christ) and it appears that all they do is enforce reporting requirements.
    If Gumment deems that this information is worth collecting, why not simply ask the ABS to do it.

  10. Honesty

    Oxygen thieves is way to kind, unless they are Fixing a glitch

    Great article Judith, there are 900 departments at a federal level so you will be writing one of these every day for the next three years. Then you can start on state, council and the judiciary – there are countless parking spaces for ex union officials and ALP supporters.

  11. You mean like hiring the Sex Discrimination Commissioner to advise on employment of women in the ADF?

    Yea, & if there aren’t enough women in the ADF, simply convert a few.

    “Okay men, stand easy. New orders for some postings have arrived!”
    “Jones, you’re off on a parachute conversion course” “Yes, Sarn’t-Major!” “What does that mean Sarn’t Major?” “It means you’ll return to this unit as a parachutist”
    “Jackson, you’re off on a motor transport conversion course” “Yes, Sarn’t-Major!”“What does that mean Sarn’t Major?” “It means you’ll return to this unit as a transport driver”
    “Robertson, you’re off on an explosives converstion course” “Yes, Sarn’t-Major!” “What does that mean Sarn’t Major?” “It means you’ll return to this unit as an explosives operative”
    “Evans, you’re off on a machine-gun conversion course” “Yes, Sarn’t-Major!” “What does that mean Sarn’t Major?” “It means you’ll return to this unit as a machine-gunner”
    “Schneider, you’re off on a navigation & comms conversion course” “Yes, Sarn’t-Major!” “What does that mean Sarn’t Major?” “It means you’ll return to this unit able to read a map, and the unit will never get lost again”
    “Smith, you’re off on a female conversion course” “Yes, Sarn’t-Major!” “What does that mean Sarn’t Major?” “It means you’ll return to this unit as a female”

  12. Leigh Lowe

    “And let’s face it, most people who work in HR departments are really oxygen thieves as far as the business is concerned …”

    Spot on.
    We just had a major fuck-up in billings to a customer because some fuckwit in HR decided to cut and paste a whole bunch of employee category changes and effectively downgrade the categories of heaps of employees.
    As I said to them “If you spent as much time on the fundamental core elements of HR Management as you do on organising Womens Day breakfasts and Diversity Day activities, we would all be a lot better off”
    Things are a bit frosty with the HR girlies at the minute.

  13. duncanm

    .. not that bad ‘only’ $7M of our hard-earned coin.

    and hardly representative. Annual report says less than 10% of their staff are male.

    Their KPI’s: “Increase women in management roles” and “Increase availability of paid maternity leave”.. presented side by side without a hint of irony.

    Their workshops: “In evaluations completed at the end of each workshop, 95.9% of attendees agreed or strongly agreed that the workshops had been informative and valuable.”.
    Not surprising, given much of their workshopping appears to be focussed on how companies can submit complying documentation to them!

  14. Mike Farrell

    “…the Grattan Institute says increasing female workforce participation by 6 per cent could add $25 billion to the nation’s bottom line.”

    How is this to be achieved? By sacking men earning more, to be replaced by women who may earn less? Wouldn’t that contra out any benefit? How does this economic genius think the workforce would be expanded by 6% – an extra 690,120 jobs according to today’s Labour Force figures? Tell ‘em they’re dreamin’.

  15. Leigh Lowe

    Company I was working for had a name similar to a famous, Australia-wide, bread making franchise

    Similar to the name of the wild bush horses?
    I seem to remember that particular chain getting into trouble for being less than enthusiastic about the Air Tax.
    I wonder if this is a minor version of the IRS harassment in the USA where, as soon as you identify yourself as being and enemy of state groupthink, you can expect lots of harrassing contact from all sorts of regulatory and reporting agencies.

  16. duncanm

    I did find something useful in their annual report.

    A list of evil, Abbott666 non-complying organisations. I suggest we all support them as much as we can, with a thank you note for giving this agency the finger. Note the number of small/medium businesses in this list!

    Bell Financial Group Limited
    F. R. Ireland Pty Ltd T/A Irelands of Cairns
    Johnston’s Transport Industries Pty Ltd
    Pronto Software Pty Ltd
    R & DKS Pty Ltd ATF Roger & Dale King Unit Trust T/A Roger King’s Eaglehawk IGA
    Thomas Jewellers (Aust) Pty Ltd

  17. Squirrel

    There are times when I barely recognise the country I am living in:

    http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2014/s3960609.htm

  18. Megan

    One of the reasons I am no longer in HR is that the mindless reporting to agencies such as this were endless and almost without exception, completely pointless. The company was in IT consulting, an area traditionally low in female participation, and we had a CEO who believed in promotion on merit and had little or no time for pandering to imagined minorities. I managed to complete these reports and achieve preferred employer status through making up half of it and utilising activities we did as part of day to day business for the other half. It wasted a week of my time every year.

  19. Leigh Lowe

    Not surprising, given much of their workshopping appears to be focussed on how companies can submit complying documentation to them!

    I note on their website they trumpet that a “PwC Survey Finds Strong Support for Gender Equality Reporting“.
    No shit, Sherlock?
    A consulting firm which hopes to make a shitload out of selling training and compliance services thinks that the Golden Goose which is about to lay that egg is just fab!
    FFS!
    In summary what PwC is saying is that 80% of businesses have responded to a survey by saying “Yep, I don’t have enough shit to fill up my day. A couple more pointless Gumment forms would be a great help“.
    Of course the survey is directed at “HR Professionals” who also have a vested interests in being able to insert themselves in every recruitment/promotion decision with a “unique gender perspective”.

  20. productive?

    “Forcing more women into the workforce would probably lower productivity because the most productive have the strongest incentives to participated.” Given you seem prepared to give them a free pass I look forward to you also giving the long term unemployed a free pass from being “forced” into the workforce because their contribution to increasing productivity would be even less.

  21. Old School Conservative

    Ubique: a great link, thanks very much. You just went ahead and made my day.

  22. Louis Hissink

    Leigh,

    Yup, spot on. Another small cap that can’t raise $. I think their exploration staff is now close to zero.

  23. Louis Hissink

    Apropos gender balance, a mate in the diamond exploration game told me some years back that what killed WMC’s exploration machine was the policies of gender balance. Geologists were hired by HR not on technical excellence, but whether they satisfied gender criteria. that was during the late 1970′s. I recall MIM HR department failing me for employment because, of all things, I was unsuitable for remote area work. Unf…ing believable. This was middle 1970′s. It’s been downhill since.

  24. I managed to complete these reports and achieve preferred employer status through making up half of it and ….

    I ignore all government tenders, all reporting, all websites one must log into & submit to, to be a “preferred” government supplier.

    Not interested.

    However, I’m the only game for a looooong distance. So about 4 times a year the following script is played out:
    Aggressive Govt Asshole: “Your tender is submitted incorrectly, Your business is non-compliant with stupid rule #x, You haven’t spent 5 days of your life creating a username in the govt supplier list and don’t give up 2 hours each day filling in bullshit on our website” (one of those is always the problem)
    Me: “I already know that, waddaya want?”
    AGA: “As a consequence of your failure to submit to us dog-rooting you with stupid rules, the government cannot purchase accommodation from your business
    Me: “You said all that in your 43-page list of rules & stupid compliance procedures, is there a point to this conversation?”
    AGA: “I’m calling just to rub it in that you’re going to miss out on tonnes of business, and all government business will be at another place in your town.” (Not his exact words)
    Me: “There aren’t any park benches in this hick town, you fellers will have to sleep on the footpath or something”

    A week or so respite, then:
    AGA: “I’m calling today to let you know that we will be able to waive 95 of the 85 rules for providing servies to the government.”
    Me: “If you say so, I’m equal opportunity mate, I let rooms to anybody who pays, on a first come first served basis”
    AGA: “You’re lucky, otherwise we’d go elsewhere
    Me: “No, I’m not lucky, you are:
    AGA: (starting to lose it again) “Look mate, if you’re not going to get down on your knees & recognise me as the grand-poo-bah of dispensing govt. largesse, we’ll go elsewher……….er… oops… er… sir (sound of gritting teeth) we’ll waive the rules for you, this time.”
    Me: “Nice doing business with pleasant people, y’all don’t suck too many lemons y’hear”

  25. Roger

    “PLEASE … why would any sensible business person use the services of ideologically and ill-trained public servants for any sort of advice?”

    So true. I did two stints in the public service; sometimes I used to look around my office and wonder how half of my co-workers managed to hold down a job at all.

    But I do wonder if the WGEA, which after all has no regulatory powers, wasn’t purposely designed by some devious higher up as a sort of sink hole where particularly zealous feminist public servants – who are the bane of every male public servant’s professional life – could be dumped? “Look here in the Gazette, Victoria, there’s just the job for you!”

  26. The lack of women in senior positions,

    Quite possibly by choice.

    low participation rates for women from 25 to 44,

    Does the concept of ‘childbearing and childrearing’ occur to this person?

    and the large proportion of women working part-time

    Choice again.

    Feminism was supposed to be about choices. A lot of women with partners CHOOSE to raise their families at home, at least some of the time, instead of putting the kids in child care 24/7 and working for the Man. This is a genuine and usually freely made lifestyle choice which – if we were real feminists – we would applaud, not condemn.

    I see nothing about how many of these women working part-time are single parents, possibly NOT by choice. Nor is there any mention of how sole parent female-headed households are the poorest in the country. Nor does our Helen seem to realise that some of those women working part-time are working at two or three part-time jobs, not one.

    Cramming even more working hours into these women’s days will not make for better-adjusted, happier children.

    – double the OECD average – all point to an inefficient use of our female talent.

    Really? So raising functional children outside of daycare, who are statistically much less likely to be socially and economically destructive in later life, is an inefficient use of female talent? I don’t think so.

    Whereas I think putting stupid women in positions of authority – such as Prime Minister – is an appalling misuse of … well … everything, really.

  27. Paul

    “Increasing female workforce participation is one of the key levers we can pull to grow our economy.”

    So there aren’t enough hookers already?

  28. My workplace was super-top-heavy with women, for quite some time. Cattiness abounded, as did backstabbing, malicious gossping about co-workers etc.

    Mostly this was based upon looks. ie. the less desirable or more portly, would be nasty about the younger & more nubile.

    Then I started hiring lots of men. Now we’d have close to 40% of the workforce male. It is a whole lot more pleasant place to work, and productivity has improved.

  29. calli

    But it is my hope we will look back on this time as the watershed moment where Australia began treating workplace gender equality as the economic imperative it is manipulative and stupid waste of human endeavour it really is.

    Fixed that for you sweetcheeks. No charge.

  30. politichix

    Philippa Martyr
    #1222970, posted on March 13, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    Feminism was supposed to be about choices.

    Janet Albretchsen had a great piece in The Australian yesterday. A small snippet . . .

    That men and women don’t always compete in equal numbers is routinely explained away as structural discrimination. Lost in that debate is the reality of so many women’s choices. Years of research confirm that women’s preferences are often different from men. The decision by even well-educated and ambitious women to devote time to that endlessly messy, maddening and rewarding job of child-rearing has never been treated as a legitimate choice and never been part of the feminists’ conversation. That’s a shame. If feminism cannot celebrate these choices, it’s little wonder the cause is having problems attracting recruits especially among younger women who haven’t bought into the “have-it-all” tosh.

  31. politichix

    Edit: Albrechtsen – sorry Janet!

  32. Union officials seeing only female hookers, well they should be charged with some sort of gender discrimination.

  33. Dan

    My wife is in HR. She hates this because it is a complete waste of her time

  34. The decision by even well-educated and ambitious women to devote time to that endlessly messy, maddening and rewarding job of child-rearing has never been treated as a legitimate choice and never been part of the feminists’ conversation. That’s a shame. If feminism cannot celebrate these choices, it’s little wonder the cause is having problems attracting recruits especially among younger women who haven’t bought into the “have-it-all” tosh.

    Well there you go. And I hadn’t even read that article.

    Great minds etc.

  35. My workplace was super-top-heavy with women, for quite some time. Cattiness abounded, as did backstabbing, malicious gossping about co-workers etc.

    Mostly this was based upon looks. ie. the less desirable or more portly, would be nasty about the younger & more nubile.

    Then I started hiring lots of men. Now we’d have close to 40% of the workforce male. It is a whole lot more pleasant place to work, and productivity has improved.

    I am afraid, Steve, that this has been my experience also.

  36. John

    WGEA’s budget is $5.832 million in 2013-14, and they had 38 staff (3 men and 35 women!!) in June last year. Every cent is a waste, but fortunately your guess is way out.

  37. Andrew of Randwick

    I think they mean SEX = Male or Female (and nothing in between)
    GENDER is a behavioral characteristic = Masculine or Feminine (and a myriad of things in between)
    Oh I forgot, the regressives have got there first and changed the dictionaries.

  38. Ellen of Tasmania

    “To be Queen Elizabeth within a definite area, deciding sales, banquets, labours, and holidays; to be Whitely within a certain area, providing toys, boots, cakes and books; to be Aristotle within a certain area, teaching morals, manners, theology, and hygiene; I can imagine how this can exhaust the mind, but I cannot imagine how it could narrow it. How can it be a large career to tell other people about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone and narrow to be everything to someone? No, a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute.”

    ― G.K. Chesterton

  39. Menai Pete

    why not simply ask the ABS to do it

    No, no, no, no, no! The despicable, jack-booted, ideologically and ill-trained public servants of the ABS would intimidate businesses and threaten them with huge fines to get the information then when it came time to publish the data it would cynically claim that all respondents had willingly cooperated in the provision of the info.

  40. Menai Pete

    Union officials seeing only female hookers, well they should be charged with some sort of gender discrimination

    Are you sure?

  41. manalive

    Goldman Sachs and JBWere have calculated closing the gap between male and female employment rates could increase GDP by 13 per cent …

    Since January 1, 2008, Norway has enforced a 40% female corporate board membership quota at all public limited companies.

    If there has been any benefit to the economy, it’s hard to see at this stage.

  42. Since January 1, 2008, Norway has enforced a 40% female corporate board membership quota at all public limited companies.

    Norway, it’s just Sweden with lots of offshore oil rigs.

  43. dover_beach

    What Philippa said.

  44. Jeremy

    Women who work have fewer children than non-workers, averaging 2 or less. Our economy relies on people. The current birth rate at about 1.7 children per women means a shrinking population and therefore fewer people and a smaller economy. In order to have a healthy growing population and therefore economy we need fewer women to work and therefore more women having 3 or more kids. If properly analysed, including accounting for the loss of productivity of all the children who were never born because of government encouragement for women to work, I am sure that encouraging women not to work would be better for the economy.

  45. JC

    The current birth rate at about 1.7 children per women means a shrinking population and therefore fewer people and a smaller economy

    Not if life spans are rising.

  46. K-Man

    Thanks, Duncanm, the link to Malcolm Tucker was right on the money.

  47. .

    Workplace Gender Equality Agency

    Who are these people?

    It is like every spiv was given a dream joke job (200k+ salary, 30 hr weeks, no responsibility) in the last administration.

Comments are closed.