Western Sydney University is a sector leader in gender equity with a long history of championing efforts to increase the representation of women in leadership roles, reduce the gender pay gap, and promote workplace flexibility.
In this regard, the University has been recognised:
- as an Employer of Choice for Gender Equality for over 18 years by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA);
- by being awarded the Athena SWAN Bronze Institutional Award under the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) initiative in 2020; and
- as one of the top three universities worldwide for Sustainability Development Goal (SDG) 5: Gender Equality, by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings.
In light of recent global events, it is more crucial than ever that we continue to empower and engage the University community in leading inclusive practices, ensuring the University is well positioned to respond to emerging gender equity challenges. In 2020, the University led the development of a Higher Education Joint Sector Position Statement on preserving gender equity during the pandemic and is committed to considering the impact of COVID-19 on women when planning our response to the pandemic.
The University has a range of strategies, policies and initiatives focused on improving gender equity, including the Gender Equality Policy, our People Strategy, the Equal Opportunity and Diversity Policy, the Workplace Flexibility Policy and related provisions in our Enterprise Agreements.
The University is committed to zero tolerance of gender-based harassment and discrimination, sexual assault, harassment and bullying. We have continued to engage with Universities Australia’s Respect.Now.Always campaign, increasing our support and reporting options for students and staff. I chair the University’s Respectful Relationships Taskforce, which tracks progress on the University’s primary prevention initiatives.
Building on our previous strategy, the Gender Equity Strategy and Action Plan 2021-2026 incorporates the diversity of the Greater Western Sydney community, including the wealth of Indigenous and cultural knowledge it offers. The Strategy and Action Plan provides a holistic framework to guide the University in developing and implementing effective and inclusive learning and working strategies in areas such as leadership, career development and success and overall University culture. Its implementation is overseen by the Vice-Chancellor’s Gender Equity Committee.
In support of our gender equity framework, we have recently:
- developed a Business Case for Gender Equality as relevant for the University and Higher Education considerations;
- undertaken a review of our recruitment and promotions policies and practices to reduce potential bias and reflect the principles of achievement relative to opportunity;
- developed a Business Case for Flexible Work and improved information and resources to inform staff of flexible work options, including the development of our Workplace Flexibility Policy and supporting Flexibility Matters Toolkit;
- developed a Supporting Parents Toolkit and other related resources to support staff navigating parental leave and transitioning back to work, and improved parental leave provisions and access for parents of all genders;
- improved the availability of breastfeeding facilities on all campuses, and recently gained re-accreditation as a Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace with the Australian Breastfeeding Association;
- established support networks for emerging leaders and parents to encourage ongoing career progression and engagement;
- continued to improve the representation of women in management positions;
- reviewed our pay equity data to identify areas of concern;
- introduced additional leave for staff experiencing domestic or family violence, improved information and resources available for staff, and developed the Family and Domestic Violence Policy and Procedures; and
- established the Gender Equality Fund which offers support to facilitate gender equality initiatives and promote workplace inclusion.
Whilst we have made good progress, continued dialogue and action is needed. We must continue to challenge the beliefs and attitudes that undermine progress. Gender equity is a fundamental human right and we must be innovative and creative in how we overcome the barriers that women and gender diverse individuals face. Together we can continue to build the University's proud reputation as a sector leader in gender equity.
Professor Barney Glover AO
Vice-Chancellor and President