Real, tangible and measurable action is key to breaking the workplace bias

‘Break the bias’ – the theme of last month’s International Women’s Day – drew worldwide attention to calling out gender bias, smashing stereotypes and breaking inequality.

While also shining a light on bias in our communities, schools, colleges and universities, bias in the workplace was key to inspiring collective action. Society has made notable progress towards gender equity in recent decades. However, gender gaps in the workforce are still prevalent. For example, in Australia, women make up 39% of the full-time workforce.

What is the status of gender equity in ANZ?

Just 1 in 5 of Australia’s CEOs are women, while the gender pay gap is currently 22.8%. New Zealand is outperforming Australia in this space, with a gender pay gap of 9.1%. However, progress has stalled in the last five years with the gap closing just 0.3% since 2017. Breaking the bias in the workplace brings many benefits both socially and to the bottom line.

Saxo Bank recently launched a Women in Leadership themed equity basket consisting of 30 companies with high percentage of women in their leadership team representing $1.1Tn in market value. The basket was developed in response to S&P Global research showing that publicly listed companies with more women in leadership teams perform better.

Building greater gender equity and breaking workplace bias doesn’t happen by accident. It takes proactive, intentional action through implementing strategies, policies and targets.

What is Experian’s stand on equity in the office?

At Experian, building stronger gender equity is an APAC regional strategic imperative. We have five commitments in place to deliver tangible action in helping to improve overall equity:

  1. Active sponsorship for gender, race, mental health, people with disability and LGBTIQ+.
  2. Better understanding of evolving opportunities (leveraged through an external DE&I audit, annual gender pay equity reviews and a future demographic assessment).
  3. Measuring progress against specific goals (including annual and 3-year gender targets).
  4. Accountability (Diversity Action Plans and performance goals for DE&I champions).
  5. Supporting our people (through learning, training and development opportunities).

Looking at gender more specifically, we have recently introduced gender targets to continue to strive for greater female representation at all levels of the business. We have a goal to increase representation of women across our total workforce from 44% to 47% by 2024.

We have made significant inroads towards this goal in ANZ, particularly at the more senior levels. Through a combination of recruitment and promotions across ANZ, we increased the number of female managers by 22% in six months between March and September 2021.

We have also introduced initiatives to help our female employees succeed. For example, our Women in Leadership #DiveIn (WILD) program aims to accelerate the number of women into executive leadership positions at Experian by focusing on increasing courage and agility, fostering autonomy and resilience, and building strong relationships and networks.

We also have a talent acquisition partnership with Half the Sky, a platform that connects women with firms committed to growing female representation at a leadership level.

How has Experian moved to halt bias globally?

Experian meets Half the Sky’s criteria for Companies that Care through initiatives like: 17 weeks of paid parental leave for primary carers, 12 days of paid parental leave for secondary carers and an ongoing commitment to flexible working. Experian also recently received a Top Employers Institute accreditation for our Aussie and Singapore businesses.

Looking beyond our initiatives, we’re also looking for how we can play our part in breaking the bias in the tech sphere generally and inspiring the next generation of female talent.

This year, we have partnered with Code First Girls, a non-profit organisation that teaches women to code for free. They particularly target women of diverse backgrounds who are starting out their careers in technology, or making the transition from another career.

The evidence is there – beyond just being the right thing to do, gender diverse companies drive stronger financial performance. Gender equity is a key driver of the ‘S’ in ‘ESG’, which is increasingly driving decision making by shareholders and at the board level.

Failure to set targets for real tangible action on gender diversity to ‘break the bias’ could have serious implications for businesses, the full extent of which we perhaps don’t yet realise.


Karine Smyth is the Emerging Propositions Director, ANZ at Experian