Australian researchers, water utilities, donors, non-government organisations and the private sector are considering how to effectively support gender equality and inclusion within their own institutions, and in the programs they fund.
Gender equality and inclusion in the workforce has gained increasing focus and awareness overall, with the spotlight currently on Parliament House, but the issues being pertinent to all sectors. For example, the Australian Water Association (AWA) and the Australian Water Partnership launched the Channelling Change program in 2017 to lead by example and promote diversity, inclusion and equality in the sector. More recently, the World Bank’s Equal Aqua initiative released a report titled ‘Women in Water Utilities: Breaking Barriers’, which found that utilities can play an important role in reducing and eliminating barriers faced by women; that women are an untapped pool of talent for the water sector; and that removing constraints to better jobs for women has wider economic and financial benefits at the national level. How can the water industry respond effectively to this call to action in a way that is evidence-based and beyond window-dressing?
The Equal Aqua initiative identifies ways that organisations can consider barriers and opportunities for inclusion at each stage of a career – from attracting diversity to the organisation, through to leadership and promotion opportunities. Examples include Unity Water’s program of actively seeking female apprentices, and improving the representation of women within leadership teams.
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