Recent changes to corporate reporting frameworks will enable investors to better assess the gender performance of organisations, according to Helen Conway, director of the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA).
Conway will use her speech at the Women in Super national roadshow in Melbourne to commend the superannuation industry for being a strong advocate for gender diversity.
“Industry bodies including Women in Super, Australian Council of Superannuation Investors and the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees deserve acknowledgement for what they have already achieved in raising awareness of the importance of gender equality,” she said.
“The industry’s continued leadership on this important issue will be vital to achieving genuine and permanent improvements in gender diversity in Australian workplaces,” Conway said.
The availability of information on gender performance under the new Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 and the Australian Securities Exchange Corporate Governance Council’s Diversity Recommendations would facilitate better informed discussions in the investment context.
“It will mean gender will play an important part in discussions about an organisation’s performance and its management capability,” Conway said.
Under the Act, non-public sector organisations with 100 or more employees will be required to report annually against a set of six standardised gender equality indicators.
Employers will have to notify shareholders or members when they have submitted their reports to WGEA, and provide them with access to these reports.
National chair of Women in Super Cate Wood welcomed the new reporting requirements, adding Australian super funds had been “at the forefront in adopting the United Nations Principles of Responsible Investment”.
“The new diversity data and benchmarks will enable funds to elevate the importance of diversity when assessing company performance,” she said.
Wood also called on the superannuation industry to embrace the opportunity to improve its own performance on gender diversity.
“Progress has been patchy regarding diversity on superannuation fund boards; if funds want to deliver the best results for members they can’t afford to ignore half the talent pool - at the board, executive or general employment level,” Wood said.