"Pathways to parity": paved with promise
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 124 No 4, 31 May 2019, page no. 21
Whether it is access to promotional positions, part-time and workplace flexibility or leave impacting on superannuation, the reality is that there are systemic barriers within the department’s processes and bureaucracy that entrench gender employment inequity.
That‘s why the QTU welcomes the department’s Pathways to Parity -A Workforce Strategy for Gender Parity 2019-2021 as an initiative to address this inequity, and was pleased to contribute to feedback during the consultation and feedback phase of this important strategy.
The QTU is of the view that this strategy is long overdue and as such, it is welcomed. It also dovetails with the gender employment equity focus of our EB9 campaign and the Queensland Public Service Commission’s Queensland Public Sector Gender Equity Strategy 2015-2020.
The need for action to address the disparity of experiences and often appalling treatment of people seeking part-time, as well as improved access to promotional pathways for part-time employees, cannot be under-estimated. The QTU has repeatedly highlighted the confusion about processes for teachers, and the number of cases that require advocacy and support. In recent times, the inclusion of incorrect timeframes and the continual insistence of some regional HR staff on confusing teachers seeking part-time or a return to full-time with the transfer process and applications is frustrating, and unnecessary.
It is tremendous that the draft document contained a positive message from the Director-General setting the tone and expectations for a department whose employees are overwhelmingly women yet who find that this is not reflected in those who hold the most power and influence decision-making. I am encouraged by the acknowledgement of the special role that schools play in role modelling workplaces and gender roles in workplaces to the students we teach. Students often only see women working part-time and males rising to promotional positions of power.
"Children form gender stereotypes based on their observation of role models, including within the school environment." (page 4)
This strategy rightly identifies that addressing gender equity is the ethically right thing to do, but also sets measurable positive outcomes for the department.
Further it finally acknowledges that the current promotional pathways are impacted by unconscious bias.
Also addressed was the needed clarification that the department will only label parents returning from parental leave as “part-time” - all other part-time requests (for other reasons) are now being referred to as “flexible work”.
"While part-time work can be considered a flexible working arrangement, part-time may not offer much flexibility around time or location of work." (page 5)
To date there has been no context or explanation for this sudden change in terminology by the department. The differentiation has caused confusion.
The strategy has three priority areas:
- employment and career pathways for parity for financial and economic success
- build capacity and awareness to balance work and life commitments and participate fully in the workplace
- inclusive polices, practice and language.
With the consultation and feedback phase having closed on May 10, we look forward to the next stages of this important strategy. The QTU has provided detailed feedback into this document, as did other stakeholders and individuals. We hope that this strategy will include a renewed focus on training, support and collecting data that can be monitored and reviewed. You don’t value what you don’t measure!