Implementing your Gender Equality Action Plan – where to start? 

To support defined entities to implement their Gender Equality Action Plans (GEAPs), Women’s Health East has developed five essential steps for defined entities implementing their Gender Equality Action Plan. 

These steps are based on a thorough analysis of the GEAPs of defined entities across Melbourne’s east and the findings and recommendations in the Commission for Gender Equality in the Public Sector’s (‘the Commission’) baseline report that analyses the 2021 workplace gender audit data. The report looks at audit data from all Victorian defined entities, sharing findings across industry groups.  

In 2022, defined entities submitted their first Gender Equality Action Plans that were designed to address the issues identified by their baseline workforce audit data and resulting analysis. 

Women’s Health East is a member of the Action for Gender Equality Partnership who is on the Commission’s Panel of Providers and is equipped with the specialist knowledge and expertise to assist defined entities in taking their GEAPs from ‘plan’ to ‘implementation’. 

The five steps below are designed to assist defined entities in successfully implementing their Gender Equality Action Plans. 

1. Ensure accountability and buy-in 

Ensuring that key people have accountability for the success of the Gender Equality Action Plan is essential for effective implementation. Recruiting influential ‘champions’, such as the CEO, directors and managers, who actively promote the importance of achieving gender equality, and creating networks of support and accountability within your organisation are proven methods for success.  

2. Improve data collection systems 

Data collection was one of the biggest issues identified in the Commission’s baseline audit report. Inadequate collection of data, including data around intersectional attributes and sexual harassment complaints, were present across defined entities. By investigating opportunities for collaboration with other similar organisations in their sector, defined entities can work towards a shared approach to data collection and data storage systems. 

3. Foster cultural and psychological safety to enable intersectional data collection 

The Commission has recommended in their baseline audit report that organisations build capability to ‘effectively and safely collect intersectional workforce composition data’. Organisations need to build employees’ trust and understanding as disclosure of such data is voluntary. Organisations can build employee willingness to disclose data on their intersectional attributes by making sure that employees are confident that data is secure and de-identified, that something good will come out of their disclosure such as positive policy changes, and that they won’t experience disadvantage or marginalisation as a result of their disclosure. 

4. Build culture over compliance 

To contribute to sustainable and transformative change, all employees need to understand the key concepts and benefits of intersectional gender equity. Position gender equity work, and work around the Gender Equality Act 2020, as an opportunity rather than a chore – as business as usual rather than a one-off activity. Understanding the effects of compounding discrimination and disadvantage allows defined entities to do better work and to create policies, programs and services that are more dynamic and responsive to the needs of their given audiences. 

5. Provide opportunities for all staff to build their expertise 

Rather than ‘siloing’ gender equity work with the People and Culture team, enable all staff to build their gender equality expertise if they want to. From their induction, employees at all levels will benefit from undergoing gender equity and/or diversity and inclusion training that highlights the opportunities that can come out of a more gender equal workplace and society. 

Women’s Health East can help you to embed a culture of equality and respect in your organisation and meet and exceed the requirements of the Gender Equality Act 2020