Libby Lyons Workplace Gender Equality Agency

Libby Lyons: Using Data to Drive Change Towards a Gender Equal Future

Libby Lyons, Director of Australia’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) shares with us how her organisation is using data to build the business case for gender equity. Australia leads the world in the quality of gender equality reporting required by employers, and therefore available to provide insight regarding our progress.

Advocating for the equal rights of women has been in my family for a long time

My grandmother Enid Lyons was the first woman in the House of Representatives and the first female Cabinet Minister, and while times have changed, I often think of her and reflect that much remains the same.

Enid did not believe fighting for gender equality was a battle between women and men, and neither do I. Women and men must work together to achieve equity in the workplace.

I am sad to say that even in 2017 a gender pay gap permeates every industry in Australia. But even though progress over the last few decades has been slow, I am optimistic about the future.

Employers are increasingly recognising that equal participation at all levels is good for the culture and performance of their organisations

More companies in Australia are introducing flexible working arrangements for women and for men, as well as greater transparency around equal pay.

The Workplace Gender Equality Agency’s (WGEA) data set gives us an unrivalled insight into the state of gender equality in Australian workplaces. Every non-public sector organisation with 100 or more employees must report to us annually on six gender equality indicators.

As an Agency, we exist to promote and improve gender equality in Australian workplaces and I know that accurate data is the key to driving change. Our data covers four million employees or 40% of the workforce.

This dataset is the envy of the world. No other country collects the breadth or depth of information on gender equality in workplaces as we do

We must be proud of that. Like us, countries around the world are recognising data as central to making progress on gender equality.

From April, companies in the United Kingdom with 250 or more employees must publish their pay gap online. Last September, the United States government announced it will be collecting summary pay data for women and men from companies with 100 or more employees.

And the German government has agreed to draft legislation for a gender reporting scheme for the first time.

With the Agency collecting three consecutive years of data under the Workplace Gender Equality Act, we have been able to demonstrate trends on the path to gender equality for the first time.

It is data that drives a clear case for change, and data that will make the difference to gender equality within Australian organisations for years to come.

Australian workplaces in 2017:

  • 23% gender pay gap based on average total remuneration
  • 27% of employers undertake a gender pay gap analysis
  • 71% of employers have an overall gender equality policy or strategy
  • 16% of CEOs are female
  • 37% of managers are female

Libby Lyons was appointed Director of Australia’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency in October 2015. She oversees a statutory reporting process which gathers gender equality data from over 12,000 employers and covers more than 4 million Australian employees. Libby, in leading the Agency, is focused on working closely with employers to create workplaces in which the skills, experience and ambitions of employees are equally recognised and rewarded, regardless of their gender.

Prior to joining the Agency Libby had a distinguished career in corporate affairs and government relations, most recently heading BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam corporate affairs division. Before this Libby was General Manager of External Relations at Atlas Iron, and held senior roles at CITIC Pacific Mining, Alcoa Australia, the Western Power Corporation and Telstra.

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Posted by Jade Collins - Femeconomy Director

Jade Collins has 20 years’ global experience in corporate executive Human Resources and management consulting roles in the Mining, Energy and Aerospace industries, leading large scale, complex multi-million-dollar change management programs. Jade finds the combination of her HR, Psychology and MBA qualifications and her leadership experience is invaluable for increasing gender equality in leadership across industries. Jade was a member of the Queensland Government's Strategic Advisory Group for the Toward Gender Parity: Women on Boards Initiative and the 2019 CQU Alumni of the Year for Social Impact for her work with Femeconomy.