ARA launches position statement on gender equality
Tuesday, March 8, 2022
To mark this year’s International Women’s Day, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has released its position statement on gender equality for the sector, the first of its kind for Australian retail.
ARA CEO and longtime diversity advocate Paul Zahra said the position statement is a symbolic and substantive commitment that will continue to advance gender equality in the retail industry.
“Women are critical to the success of Australian retail. They contribute about 75% of consumer spending and make up 57% of the retail workforce. Despite this, women only hold 27% of Australian retailer board positions and only 17% of our industry is led by female CEOs,” said Mr Zahra.
“Additionally, our industry has a 15% pay gap between men and women in similar roles, which is one of the contributing factors to women retiring with 23% less retirement savings. % to that of men. We also know that women are far more likely to experience gender discrimination or sexual harassment at work and are three times more likely to experience domestic and family violence.
“As Australia’s largest and most diverse retail industry association, we are committed to unifying our sector behind a common vision for change that addresses these imbalances. Our immediate goal is to promote and advance gender equality in the retail industry to improve choice, career progression and financial security for women throughout their working lives and into retirement,” Mr. Zahra said.
The ARA position statement on gender equality outlines guiding principles and suggested actions that retailers could take to help address gender inequality in the sector. These actions include setting an ambitious gender target for board and executive positions, running education and awareness campaigns, closing the gender pay gap and men, access to more cost-effective childcare options for working families, and the removal of rigid stereotypes from marketing, product lines and pricing.
In line with this year’s International Women’s Day theme, the ARA’s position statement aims to #BreakTheBias by advancing gender equality in Australian retail, so the sector can play a positive role. in the reinvention of a world free from prejudice, sexist stereotypes and discrimination against women.
“Equality between women and men is a complex issue which is rightly based on the inequality between women and men at work. However, we must keep in mind that equality is a basic human right for everyone, regardless of gender identity,” Mr. Zahra said.
“We also need to recognize that there are differences between how our larger national and international retailers approach gender equality, compared to our small and medium-sized members who make up 95% of our members. This is not a one-size-fits-all proposition and we need to help our members pursue the actions that make sense for their business,” Zahra said.
The position statement was developed and approved by the ARA’s Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (DEI) Advisory Committee. Committee chair Elise Sharpley of Deloitte says the ARA’s position statement sets a positive example for other industry groups, with leaders from Australia’s biggest retailers coming together to shape a response to the industry-wide to gender equality.
“Gender equality is a moral and business imperative. There is a national call for change across Australia and it is so exciting to see a group of aligned retail leaders coming together to put intention and action behind an authentic position,” said Ms. Sharply.
In conclusion, Mr. Zahra said, “We are extremely grateful for the support and leadership our DEI Advisory Board has shown in developing and endorsing our position statement. I am also proud that we have started to engage in public debate on diversity issues that are important to our members and our sector. Our next step is to underpin this position statement with the implementation of initiatives that will bring our commitments to life and move the dial on gender equality in the Australian retail sector.
ARA members can show their commitment to the ARA position statement on gender equality by visiting retail.org.au/gender-equality