Report: gender discrimination rife in ICT sector

Wednesday, 16 December, 2020

Report: gender discrimination rife in ICT sector

Professionals Australia has called for the ICT sector to do more to address gender diversity, discrimination and sexual harassment against women, after the ICT Professionals Employment and Remuneration Report 2021 found that little is being done to tackle these workplace issues.

Professionals Australia CEO Jill McCabe said the report demonstrates that more needs to be done to attract, retain and support women working in the ICT sector. McCabe noted that the proportion of women employed in ICT is still low, with women making up 28% of ICT employees, compared with other professional industries, where women represent 45% of the workforce.

“While 76% or survey respondents said that their organisation had policies in place to deal with discrimination, these policies were clearly not working — with 56% of women reporting they had experienced discrimination on the basis of gender over the past three years, compared to just 2.8% of men. Most concerningly, over 20% of women reported experiencing sexual harassment,” said McCabe. An additional 3% of male respondents reported having been sexually harassed in their careers.

Over six in 10 respondents (64%) said their workplace currently had formal policies in place to promote diversity, while 76% said their workplace currently had formal policies in place to deal with discrimination. However, McCabe urged organisational leaders to drive, model and embed a culture of respect across their organisations.

“Discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace are illegal, damage the careers of affected workers, and impact negatively on their health and safety. Instilling greater diversity, fairness and balance into ICT workplaces is an investment which will return long-term social and economic benefits for the future of the sector,” said McCabe.

The report also found that wage growth in the ICT sector was generally low, with an increase of 1.4% this year, while 42% reported they had not received a pay increase in the previous 12 months. Women were also paid 4% less than their male counterparts — less than the 17.2% pay gap reported by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, but still a significant gap. The mean base salary reported was $113,606 for males compared with $109,000 for females, meaning females earned 95.5% of male respondents’ earnings.

The biggest impact on ICT professionals was employers instructing them to work from home (77%), with one in 10 respondents receiving JobKeeper — the Commonwealth employee subsidy program to encourage employers to keep retain their staff.

“As we emerge from the COVID-19 economic downturn, I urge all leaders across the ICT sector to use this moment as an opportunity to reshape their organisations for the better,” said McCabe.

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