Boosting the workforce participation of women would lift Australia’s GDP by 13 per cent, Senator Michaelia Cash told a packed house of NAWIC members at the recent NAWIC ACT Industry Breakfast.
A strong turnout gathered on Tuesday 4 July at the National Gallery of Australia’s Gandel Hall to hear the federal Minister for Employment and Minister for Women share her insights into women’s participation in the construction industry.
Construction is Australia’s second largest contributor to GDP, which makes closing the gap on female participation an issue of national importance.
Quoting the latest statistics from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, the Minister said women account for just 11.7 per cent of employees in the construction industry. Alarmingly, women leave the industry at a rate almost 40 per cent higher than their male counterparts.
Shifting the dial on the long-established gender imbalance within the industry requires a range of strategies. NAWIC’s talent identification and management programs, such as awards and mentoring, play an important role. Locally, NAWIC are focused on transforming leadership structures and driving practical action on everything from promoting the business benefits of gender equity to leading discussions on positive ways to achieve reform.
Minister Cash said the restoration of the Australian Building Construction Commission, which returned the “tough cop on the beat” in December 2016, would also help to “clean up the industry”. This would, in turn, create cultures and workplaces that are attractive to women.
The construction industry employs in excess one million Australians and backs 350,000 small businesses, the Minister said. The government would continue to support policies and programs to help the industry “prosper and grow”, and to provide career opportunities that would support both men and women at every stage of their careers.