Small businesses are the backbone of employment in Australia. In fact, the majority of businesses trading in Australia (by a long way) are small businesses. These businesses have a genuine opportunity to establish, maintain and improve gender equality within their workplaces, making a significant difference to the overall success of gender equity initiatives.

For larger (non-public sector) employers in Australia, with 100 or more employees, there is an annual obligation under the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012, to submit a standard report with the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) between 1 April and 31 May each year, for the prior 12 months. These reports collect payroll and human resources data to build a picture of the gender equity practices within a business.

Many of our clients don’t fall into the ‘large’ company requirements of reporting their employment arrangements, to review pay parity and any obvious discrimination. Despite not being required to report on this data, the WGEA does provide valuable information for small business employers to consider for their business too.

The WGEA website covers some key challenges acknowledged by the Agency for smaller businesses aiming to achieve workplace gender equality, including:

  • lower turnover rates 
  • higher impact of parental leave costs 
  • challenges in implementing flexible work options 
  • limited or no HR resources 
  • limited resources to develop gender strategies and management systems 
  • limited data collection systems and processes.

All of these factors are quite common among smaller businesses and create challenges on a number of levels, not only for gender equality.

Despite these challenges, there are also many opportunities that come with running a smaller business, including forming stronger relationships with individuals, to come to more flexible arrangements where possible.

Smaller businesses also have significantly less data to review, should they choose to independently analyse their payroll data for wage rate trends. The WGEA website provides straightforward information on how to DIY this process.

Certainly the limited HR resources can be a challenge for small businesses when implementing new policies. Fortunately, there are many external resources, such at the tea at Workplace Central, who have the skills and experience to help you through these processes. Get in touch with our Workplace Partners for more info on how we can help your business with all its human resources needs.


*This is general information only and doesn’t take your specific business circumstances into account.