Posted 10 May 2018
Inspiring change within the water sector has been top of mind for many businesses over the past few years, driving growth regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, disability, skills or sexual orientation.
The Australian Water Association’s Channeling Change Program, too, aims to foster a water sector that embraces and drives diversity, inclusion and equal opportunities.
On a more global scale, the Association, together with activities to connect in Australia and Vietnam, advocates for a more inclusive and diverse water sector, driving gender equality and social inclusion within the workplace.
At Ozwater’18, the Australian Water Partnership’s Partnership and Knowledge Manager Dr. Marian Neal stressed the importance for businesses to put in place systems, processes and people to alleviate the problem of a less inclusive water sector.
“Gender diversity is good for business, it is a proven fact that countries that embrace women on an executive level have significant returns on investment as compared to those with no women on their executive committees,” she said.
“As industry peers, we need to articulate why gender balance is important to business in terms of the health of the business, collaboration and managing capacities. It’s not about replacing men with women, it’s about incorporating both capabilities to bring various qualities to the table.”
The Australian Embassy in Vier Nam Private Sector Management Senior Program Manager Van Duong We addressed the channel for change and a cause for the water sector to rally behind, across both Australia and the Indo-Pacific region.
“In Vietnam, there are more women in secondary and tertiary levels than men but still, the issue of gender disparity in the workforce remains. In addition, women earn 20% less than men even in sectors well represented by women,” Duong said.
“These are some barriers to women’s access to and ownership of economic assets. It also recognises the need for more women representation on an executive level; it’s still very male dominant.”
As a result, she identified approaches and strategies to enable gender equality and social inclusion, which includes:
- The removal of gender barriers to participation in the economy (such as differential retirement age and the list of proscribed occupations for women in the basis of their sex) and reforms to support it.
- An increased share of women-headed businesses and a reduction in gender-based labour productivity gaps.
- Having more economically secure women with savings and increased control over productive assets.
- An increased representation of women in political leadership and decision-making positions at all levels.
- The introduction and expansion of better policies and financial incentives for women-led groups.
- The establishment of vocational training, finance and technology for women to excel.
- Equal rights for lesbian gay bisexual transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people.
- Increased participation by women in key areas across the water sector.
- Increased retention of women during the middle stages of their career.
- Greater flexibility and support for parents who are at work with children.
- Addressing workplace discrimination and unconscious bias.
10 May marks the last of the three Ozwater’18 conference days in Brisbane, at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.