Australia’s peak retail body, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has welcomed the Women’s Economic Equality Taskforce’s ten-year plan to promote the economic contribution of Australian women and remove barriers for women in areas such as leadership, workforce participation and pay equality.
ARA CEO Paul Zahra said the retail sector is committed to addressing imbalances and promoting gender equality as one of Australia’s largest private-sector employers of women.
“Gender equality is a critical issue for the retail sector and so we welcome this long-term view outlining what we need to do to address the issues and roadblocks that create inequalities on the basis of gender,” said Mr Zahra.
“As an example, women make up more than 57% of the retail workforce but only 17% of the CEO population in our sector. In response, our members are strongly focused on improving support for women and fostering women’s career progression is a central part of their focus on diversity, equality, and inclusion”.
“To help focus and accelerate this work, the ARA has also developed a Gender Equality Position Statement outlining the key changes that our sector needs to make to address inequalities.”
The report identifies $128 billion in economic value that can be harnessed by removing barriers for women in areas such as leadership, participation, pay gaps and wealth equality.
The plan also recommends Government provide women with lifelong flexible, affordable and accessible education and skill building and encourages the development of programs that support women to enter or work in specifically male dominated areas.
“Providing women in the sector with ongoing professional training and development is an important component to knocking down these barriers, and a big focus of the ARA Retail Institute,” Mr Zahra added.
“We would welcome the opportunity to partner with Government to design and deliver new courses to support women taking on leadership and management positions in the retail sector.”
Mr Zahra also supported moves to alleviate childcare stressors for women in their careers.
“The cost of childcare remains a significant barrier preventing women from entering the workforce, often outweighing income from a part-time job – so addressing this issue would certainly produce better outcomes for women,” he added.