Workforce Diversity Industry Snapshot

2 February 2014

Consult Australia has released its 2013 Workforce Diversity Industry Snapshot. 

Consult Australia’s 2013 Workforce Diversity Industry Snapshot surveyed member consulting firms working in the built environment, including design, architecture, technology, engineering, surveying, legal, and management solutions.

The report describes the ‘headline’ results as follows:

  • The consulting industry workforce is 27% women, well below the national workforce average of 47.7% for all companies with 100 or more employees.
  • Over 15% of board positions are filled by women, 24.3% of professional services staff are women, and 57.7% of corporate and support services staff.
  • Most people work full time, but the great majority of part time workers are women, with men more likely to work as casual or contract staff.
  • There is a very clear gender pay gap in almost all career streams and levels, especially for those working in corporate and support services roles. Average turnover rates are usually higher for women. This is despite the average ages of staff, and years in their current company, being quite similar for men and women.
  • Parental leave offerings are becoming more generous, though this is yet to be reflected in improvements to return-to-work statistics and suggests that more attention needs to be paid to what happens in the months after primary carers return to work.
  • In good news for employers, average retirement ages are above the national average and it appears that most companies will have about 10 years for succession planning with senior staff. Furthermore, at each stage of the talent pipeline – from executives right down to graduates – there is a smooth average age difference of four to six years between each level.
  • Overall, though it is not especially surprising that positive changes to the survey data are small. The continued existence of a gender pay gap, low numbers of women (and a high turnover), is proof positive of a systemic problem that demands even more efforts to overcome.

The report makes ten recommendations to “provide industry leaders with a basis for, and framework to take, action”. These include: looking at pay disparity and challenging clichés about why it occurs (for example, the comparative value of roles or the value of traditional working arrangements); identifying and promoting talented women to leadership positions; using flexible working arrangements more effectively; understanding what employees with young children need from employers to enable them to be productive workers; using data on the average ages of employees to aid succession planning; and using survey data for benchmarking a practice’s performance. Full recommendations can be found in the report.

Consult Australia has also established a Champions of Change program, chaired by Greg Steele, Managing Director of Hyder Consulting. Champions sign the Charter of the Consult Australia Champions of Change and work to “actively advance equality across their businesses and to act as advocates for the consulting industry”.

This item first appeared in ACA Communique, October 2013. 

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