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Annual Performance Statement

Introductory statement

The Annual Performance Statement for the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA, the Agency) has been prepared in accordance with the requirements of section 39(1)(a) of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act) for the 2019-20 financial year and accurately presents the Agency’s performance in accordance with section 39(2) of the PGPA Act.

Entity purpose

The Workplace Gender Equality Agency is charged with promoting and improving gender equality in Australian workplaces, including through the provision of advice and assistance to employers and the assessment and measurement of workplace gender data.


Performance Criterion: Gender equality continues to be recognised as a mainstream business issue

  • Target: Increased use of gender data in business reporting (increased reporting of gender data to executive teams and governing bodies / Boards)
  • Target: Continued improvement across gender equality indicator (GEI) measures relating to flexible working arrangements and work arrangements to support employees with family or caring responsibilities

Criterion Source

Workplace Gender Equality Agency 2019-20 Corporate Plan

Workplace Gender Equality Agency – Entity resources and plan performance 2019-20 Portfolio Budget Statement (PBS)

Result Against Performance Criterion

The Agency’s reporting data collected on the GEIs show that:

  • The proportion of organisations reporting their pay equity metrics to the executive has increased by 1.8 percentage points (pp) to 31.2% and proportion of organisations reporting their pay equity measures to the board has increased by 1.2pp to 19.1% in 2018-19.
  • The percentage of organisations with targeted policies and/or strategies to support flexible working has increased by 2.0 pp to 72.7% in 2018-19.
  • Almost 50% of employers now offer primary carer’s leave to women and men - up 1.6pp to 49.4%. There was also an increase in paid secondary carer’s leave for women and men - up 2.0pp to 43.8%.
  • Organisations reporting a formal policy and/or strategy to support employees with family or caring responsibilities is up 2.2pp to 66.5%.
  • The proportion of employers offering non-leave based measures to support employees with caring responsibilities also increased – up 1.5pp to 55.2%.

The WGEA Employer of Choice for Gender Equality (EOCGE) citation’s new requirements include reporting metrics on a number of gender equality measures to different stakeholders. These include all staff, key management personnel and governing bodies. This requirement drives increased business reporting on metrics that include:

  • gender composition of the workforce;
  • promotions, appointments and exits by gender;
  • the number of women and men accessing formal flexible working arrangements;
  • the number of women and men accessing and returning from parental leave;
  • results of the gender pay gap analyses including progress on the narrowing of the organisation-wide pay gap and actions taken;
  • results from the gender equality survey questions, and,
  • data on gender-based harassment and discrimination and sexual harassment complaints.

Targets on track across the duration of the multi-year program.

Performance Criterion: Analyse WGEA data to provide targeted and accessible insights

  • Target: Circulation of targeted employer resources based on analysis of WGEA’s dataset to improve key gender equality outcomes
  • Target: Inclusion of data visualisation functionality into the website
  • Target: Establishment of new research partnerships

Criterion Source

Workplace Gender Equality Agency 2019-20 Corporate Plan

Workplace Gender Equality Agency – Entity resources and plan performance 2019-20 Portfolio Budget Statement (PBS)

Result Against Performance Criterion

The Agency released a number of new and updated resources focused on emerging issues. Promotion of these resources was through social media, email campaigns and public engagement events.

  • Gender pay gap calculator updated and upgraded for organisations to calculate and analyse their organisation-wide gender pay gaps
  • Insight/background paper on gender equitable recruitment and promotion and an accompanying Guide for organisations
  • An Agency webpage dedicated to Gender equality and men that includes an insight paper on gender equitable parental leave and resources on workplace flexibility
  • Insight paper on Women’s economic security in retirement
  • An Agency webpage and research paper on the Future of Work
  • Video, Be Strategic – Addressing Workplace Gender Equality featuring two CEOs discussing how their organisations are taking a strategic approach to gender equality.

The Agency launched a new Gender Equality Strategy Guide and Gender Equality Diagnostic Tool. This was adapted for use as part of the DFAT-funded Investing in Women initiative. The toolkit is being utilised across the Indo-Pacific region.

Following the release of the 2018-19 dataset, the Agency targeted organisations that reported they had not taken action after undertaking a pay equity analysis. The Agency wrote to each organisation and provided information and resources on strategies for reducing gender pay gaps within organisations. The Agency also provided the Gender Strategy toolkit to every organisation who reported that they had no policy or strategy on gender equality.

The Agency has continued to develop its website and has increased the usability and value of its interactive Data Explorer tool with new data featured in a more accessible format in 2019-20. Data visualisation capability has been included in the design and build of the Agency’s new online data management and reporting system, which will be accessible through the website.

The Agency established a new research partnership with the University of Queensland Business School and released the report Employer of Choice for Gender Equality – Leading Practices in Strategy, Policy and Implementation in February 2020. An additional new partnership commenced with HESTA but was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Targets on track across the duration of the multi-year program.

Performance Criterion: WGEA meets key milestones in the development of a new reporting and data management system

  • Target: Identify and incorporate areas of improvement for reporting and leading practice and analysis outputs
  • Target: Development of requirements for new reporting and data management system
  • Target: The Agency has clarity on the impacts of any changes to reporting processes

Criterion Source

Workplace Gender Equality Agency 2019-20 Corporate Plan

Workplace Gender Equality Agency – Entity resources and plan performance 2019-20 Portfolio Budget Statement (PBS)

Result Against Performance Criterion

The Agency secured funding through the Women’s Economic Security Package to develop and implement a replacement, fit-for-purpose, online reporting and data management system. Scoping to design and build a new online system commenced in February 2019. The first stage was a detailed discovery phase to identify the needs and requirements of our end users and identify areas for improvement. Consultation with a cross section of reporting organisations was included in this discovery work. The cross section considered corporate structure (standalone, parent/corporate subsidiaries and Australian subsidiary of a global organisation), size, geographical location, industry, and the format used for the provision of their data to the Agency.

An architecture and design phase followed. This phase was guided by the findings and identified user needs. The development of the solution architecture blueprint was finalised in July 2019. This established the requirements for the new reporting and data management system and a multi-stage procurement process was undertaken. Following a rigorous assessment process, a vendor was appointed at the end of 2019.

The Agency undertook a review of its business rules and data collection processes. The key outcomes of this review were the identification of changes that could improve data quality and simplify the reporting process for employers. All the underlying guiding principles and reporting organisation guidelines were collected and analysed to enable better data coverage and assist in the simplification of the process. The build of the new system has incorporated the documented agreed changes with impact assessment for reporting processes established and a communication strategy developed for stakeholders.

The project team has met all key milestones. The project is on target for pilot in October 2020 and full delivery in April 2021.

Targets met

Analysis of performance against purpose

The Agency has delivered on all performance criteria in the 2019-20 year. A summary of the performance criteria are:

  • adding to the gender equality narrative and embedding the business case for gender equality
  • maximising the value of the data collected through provision of targeted insights
  • creation of a fit-for-purpose data management and reporting system to enhance the collection of data.

The Agency has released six years of data and the seventh annual report submission period has closed. Capturing and reporting on workplace gender equality indicators is a firmly established mainstream activity for Australian businesses. Employers continued to submit their reports to the Agency even under the challenging circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Because of the disruption caused to Australian workplaces by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Agency provided a universal extension to the report submission period for 2019-20. This extension provided extra time and offered additional support to employers experiencing hardship as well as ensuring that the data set would be sufficiently accurate and robust in size to maintain trend data.

The profile of the Agency and recognition of the value of the data continues to increase. Australian media frequently quote and refer to the WGEA data and the Agency’s Director. The Agency’s Director and staff are regularly invited to participate in a broad range of conferences, workshops, roundtables as well as national and international business and community discussions. The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic limited the Agency’s capacity to attend and present at external events including planned international engagement events.

The Agency continued to publish research reports in collaboration and partnership with organisations. These included universities, industry bodies, professional services firms and not-for-profit organisations.

With the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic escalating in May 2020, the Agency proactively published a research paper on the Gendered Impacts of COVID-19. The paper addressed the effect the global pandemic is having on women both in the workplace and at home. The paper was regularly cited by media.

In June 2020, the partnership between Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC) and the Agency saw the release of the fifth Gender Equity Insights Report. This strengthened the business case for gender-balanced leadership at board and senior level of organisations. The findings identified a strong and convincing causal relationship between improved company productivity, performance and profitability and the presence of women on boards and in senior leadership positions. Based on the Agency’s analysis of available information, the establishment of this causal relationship is a world-first.

The findings of this report have been widely used in the Agency’s educational material, toolkits and resources, public speaking events, media interviews and on social media.

An increasing number of organisations not covered under the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 are seeking WGEA expertise, tools and resources. These include public sector agencies and small business.

The Agency continues to review and refine communication channels to deliver targeted communications to different audiences. The Agency has undertaken research on attitudes and perceptions of specific groups towards workplace gender equality issues to assist the Agency to monitor community perceptions and tailor resources to different stakeholders.

The criteria for the 2019-20 WGEA Employer of Choice for Gender Equality citation were strengthened to reflect the latest academic research into the drivers of improved gender equality outcomes in the workplace and to recognise contemporary leading practice in this area. Applicants are now required to provide evidence of actions taken in specified areas to verify claims made in their application. This ensures greater rigour and accountability on the part of the applicant and builds on the integrity of the program and the quality of the citation holders.

It was anticipated that fewer organisations would apply for the citation because of the more rigorous eligibility criteria. However, it is gratifying to report that the citation was granted to 119 employers in 2019-20.

Advocates for the Agency and gender equality more broadly continued to amplify the ongoing public discussion on workplace gender equality. They enthusiastically reinforced the business case in taking proactive steps in the support of equal representation, recognition and reward of women and men in the workplace.

The Agency remains on schedule to develop and implement a replacement, fit-for-purpose online reporting and data management system. This system is being developed to ensure:

  • there is the capacity and flexibility to support voluntary reporting by organisations such as public sector employers
  • capability for a significant increase in the collection of data
  • an improved and streamlined user experience for reporting organisations
  • improved delivery of data analysis and insights to both reporting organisations and the general public.

The Agency selected a vendor through a multi-stage procurement process at the end of 2019 and commenced building the replacement system in January 2020. A review of the current reporting processes and guidelines resulted in the Agency incorporating additional data points into the new reporting system, which will enable greater data analysis and insights. At the time of writing, the key milestones for the project had been met. The new platform is due to be launched for our eighth year of reporting under the current Act in April 2021.

Further discussion and statistics on key Agency activities aligned with our legislative mandate can be found in the Key Agency activities section.