RMIT is committed to progressing gender equity and supporting marriage equality. Here is what our Vice-Chancellor and President had to say during 2017 to staff and students.
What does equal opportunity mean to the Vice-Chancellor of RMIT in 2017?
It’s the same as it has always been – absolutely fundamental. It’s that simple. I have three daughters and I’d expect nothing less for them than a workplace in which gender is no more than a personal fact. On matters of access to roles, pay and promotion, it should be completely irrelevant. I won’t stop pushing until that’s the case and as a university, a place of learning, co-creation and collaboration, we should lead the way.
It’s logical, and also quite exciting, that RMIT is applying to be a WGEA Employer of Choice for Gender Equality for the first time since 2012. This follows our third public report to the Agency since I joined RMIT in 2015 and will keep workplace gender equality and the progress towards it, through our Gender Equality Action Plan (2016-2020), firmly in our focus.
What about your own team?
When I looked around at a recent extended VCE strategy session, I realised I had a 50/50 ratio in the room and that’s one of my proudest achievements in a long career leading teams. Not only is it the right thing, it’s also the smart thing. Diverse teams make better decisions and there’s copious evidence to support this. I believe all leaders should strive to have the voices around their leadership table reflect the communities they serve.
More broadly, we’ve made great progress in improving the gender balance of senior teams across RMIT. The number of women in senior and executive roles at RMIT has improved 9% and we’ve reached gender parity on RMIT Council in the last 12 months. Our goal includes fast tracking the achievement of our gender equality targets and increasing female representation in senior leadership roles by 2020 to 50:50. But there’s still a lot of work ahead of us, which forms part of our long-term plan to become an Employer of Choice in diversity and inclusion.
Tell us about pay gaps Martin…
We know one of the biggest barriers to gender equality is the systemic issue of gender pay gaps and we have to face this. As a university, we’ve undertaken a detailed pay gap analysis for the second consecutive year. Though there is still work to do, we’ve managed to close this gap by 27 per cent over the last 12 months, by addressing the causal factors of gender pay inequality as part of our gender equality action plan. The fact that there’s still a gap, however, is not acceptable - and it is my utmost priority to reduce any gendered discrepancy in pay at RMIT.
More action and faster progress. We also need to be vigilant - equal pay for equal work is obvious, but it goes deeper. We need to change the way we work so that true flexibility allows a wider community of people to contribute to what we do, while focusing on what is important to them outside of RMIT. Embedding flexible work supports a diverse and adaptable workforce. It’s great to see so many managers supporting their people to work flexibly - I ask all managers and staff to be aware of this option.
We also need to embrace the technology at our fingertips to allow the wider community to participate at the times and from the locations where they can be most effective. All of this requires a collective shift in attitude to what a workplace is. My own leadership team and our Council stand shoulder to shoulder on this priority as public advocates and role models. Because united we’ll thrive and allow our people, regardless of their gender, to do the same. I am proud of the progress we have made together and am confident we can do even more in the future.