Report calls for action on gender biases in the workplace

- May 31, 2024 2 MIN READ


The 2024 National Working Families Report, by Parents At Work and UNICEF Australia, reveals persistent gender biases in Australian workplaces and calls for actionable changes to support working parents and carers.

Based on data from over 6200 working families, the report provides crucial insights and recommendations for employers and policymakers to better manage work-family balance.

The report highlights the ongoing challenges faced by working parents.

While some employers have made strides in adopting family-friendly policies, traditional gender norms still influence workplace attitudes and policies. Men often face barriers in accessing family-friendly arrangements, and women continue to shoulder the primary caregiving responsibilities, exacerbating stress and work-life conflicts.

Work-life balance still an issue

Emma Walsh, CEO of Parents At Work, said there is a need for more substantive progress.

“Despite efforts to improve gender equality, the report shows little progress in easing work and care pressures for working families,” she said.

“Australia lags behind other OECD nations in supporting working parents and carers, which impacts our economy and the ability to attract high-quality talent.”

Practical tips to avoid gender biases:

Invest in Paid Parental Leave (PPL):

Ensure gender-neutral policies, offer 18-26 weeks of PPL, include paid superannuation, and remove tenure requirements.

Provide equitable access to family-friendly policies: Ensure inclusivity regardless of gender, sexual orientation, cultural background, or family type.

Invest in employee mental health and wellbeing:

Link caring needs with work-life balance, promote support programs, and create open channels for discussing job stress.

Evaluate the benefits of being family-friendly:

Measure and improve family-friendly practices, benchmark against industry standards, and engage employees in solutions.

Address diverse carer needs:

Develop policies that support affordable childcare and varied care requirements.

For policymakers, the report suggests:

Increase access to early childhood education and care:

Ensure affordability and participation, particularly for vulnerable families.

Promote gender-neutral PPL reforms:

Enhance the length, flexibility, and accessibility of the Commonwealth’s PPL scheme.

Advance the gender equality strategy:

Improve transparency on the gender pay gap and boost women’s leadership.

Embed family-friendly policies:

Adopt the National Work and Family Standards to enhance workplace practices.

Invest in research:

Expand the diversity of families represented in future surveys.

Nicole Breeze, Chief Advocate for Children at UNICEF Australia, stressed the importance of family-friendly policies in promoting gender equality and reducing work-related stress.

“Quality time between parents, carers, and children is vital for wellbeing,” she said. “Employers who support work-family balance contribute to a healthier, more equitable, and productive society.”

The report is a call to action for creating more inclusive and supportive workplaces. For more details and to download the report, visit:

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