Remaking the norm: Six actions to achieve gender equity in Australia

Remaking the norm research report cover page

Today Australians Investing In Women in collaboration with Deloitte Access Economics and Minderoo Foundation released the second iteration of the  Breaking the Norm report – Remaking the Norm – revealing the six actions key to dismantling harmful gender norms and inequities in Australia.

The report, which includes new research into the equality-based attitudes and behaviours of corporate Australia, outlines how society can dismantle bias and stereotypes through practical policy recommendations and learnings from successful change initiatives and actions.

It is the critical next step in realising the $128bn that could be added to Australia’s GDP annually if women and girls are empowered to reach their full economic potential, as Breaking the Norm identified in 2022.

The six key actions for governments, business, philanthropy and community groups being:

• Engage children and young people in discussions about gender norms

• Enable men to play a bigger role at home

• Eliminate stereotypes in language and culture

• Embed intersectionality across gender initiatives

• Create accountable and transparent institutions

• Create structured processes to reduce embedded bias

Underpinning these actions is a comprehensive review of key industry research and action plans, as well as new data gathered through a survey of over 200 Australian CEOs, executives, directors and managers. The report breaks down how the actions can be embedded and the potential influence in doing so.

Despite perceived progress on gender equity, research also shows that a concerning number of Australians still hold rigid and outdated gender views, with one in four Australians surveyed believing children do not do as well if the father stays at home and the mother is the breadwinner in a relationship. Additionally one in five think women prefer men to be in charge of relationships.

The study revealed that only 55 per cent of employers acknowledge that gender discrimination contributes to female leadership numbers – indicating that many businesses aren’t equipped with the knowledge to meaningfully reduce bias and remove barriers to inclusivity.

Showing that even base equality measures are falling short, nearly half of all businesses that celebrate International Women’s Day did not have a dedicated budget for gender equity. This finding is also likely to contribute to Australia’s gender pay gap disparities.

Deloitte Access Economics Partner Sruthi Srikanthan said: “Gender norms constrain the ability of women to participate in the economy and in society as equals, driving outcome gaps between men and woman from hourly pay and labour force participation to the share of domestic labour performed.

“Society has made many attempts to address this disadvantage, but reactive interventions need to be complemented by actions that seek to shift the underlying beliefs we hold about women that ultimately cause those gaps to persist.

“Gender norms consciously and unconsciously constrain decision making by incentivising people to act, treat others, and structure society in ways traditionally expected of their gender. There is a significant economic and social opportunity to dismantling harmful gender norms, to the benefit of not just women, but men and children too.”

Srikanthan added, “As important as it is to raise awareness through work such as International Women’s Day events, real change is driven when backed up by informed actions. Now is the time for enduring impact.”

Julie Reilly OAM, CEO of Australians Investing In Women said: “Business, government, community leaders and philanthropists have a duty to honestly examine their gender equity efforts to determine whether they are doing enough to meaningfully address the gender norms that underpin inequity.

“Modern-day philanthropic initiatives are increasingly committed to systemic change, seeking to tackle and solve the root causes of complex issues rather than band-aiding repeatedly poor outcomes. Addressing gender norms is critical to all systems change.

“We invite the social sector to review this new report’s six actions to ‘remake the norm’ and to help unleash Australia’s economic potential and improve outcomes for all Australians.”

Kristine Kaukomaa, Head of Freedom from Violence and Embedding Equality, Minderoo Foundation said: “It’s been a pleasure to contribute to Deloitte Access Economics’ gender equality endeavours.

“The report highlights the rigidity of outdated gender norms that limit the freedoms and choices of people by virtue of their gender, but it also provides us with an inventory of practical options to build a fairer future.

“From corporate Australia, to government, civil society and philanthropy – we can all be beneficiaries of the social and economic dividends on offer, just as we are all responsible for shaping an equitable, inclusive and prosperous Australian community.

“We hope that a world free of inequality is the only norm future generations will know, the question is – how long are we collectively willing to wait before the next generation’s life choices are not limited by their gender?”

The social and economic cost of restrictive “gender norms” were first revealed in Breaking the Norm: Unleashing Australia’s Economic Potential, which went on to influence subsequent works on women’s economic participation like the Women’s Economic Equality Taskforce’s 10-year plan and the Federal Government’s Women’s Budget statement.

Download the report.

 

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