“Visible, lasting change”: The Vice-Chancellor on gender equity at Macquarie


Professor S Bruce Dowton Vice-Chancellor VC Photography SuiteAcknowledging International Women’s Day on 8 March 2023, I want to reaffirm our University’s commitment to real and sustainable change for gender equity and diversity.

Macquarie’s efforts to tangibly embed equity, diversity and inclusion within our systems, processes and culture were recognised in 2022 with re-accreditation as a Workplace Gender Equality Agency Employer of Choice, a Gold-level award in the Australian Workplace Equality Index Awards for LGBTQIA+ inclusion, Flex Careers FlexReady Certification for our progressive approach to flexible work, and membership of the Champions of Change Coalition.

It is a good time to celebrate these achievements and highlight the areas where we are doing well. Macquarie has made good progress towards a more gender-balanced academic staff pipeline – particularly at Level C where we have seen a 9 per cent increase over recent years – largely through more equitable recruitment and promotion practices. In our 2022 Inclusion@Work survey results, the majority of staff reported being in an inclusive/somewhat inclusive team (85 per cent) and having an inclusive/somewhat inclusive manager (80 per cent).

It is also important that we acknowledge the changes we are seeing are not enough to achieve real and sustainable impact for gender equality, and the rate of progress is much too slow. Women are under-represented in senior leadership roles and at senior academic levels (Level D 39 per cent and Level E 32 per cent), and we have pay gaps at senior academic levels where discretionary allowances are a key contributing factor.

The factors leading to unequal workplace opportunities and outcomes are complex and varied and therefore difficult to change, however we must and can do better on gender equity. Gender equity is an issue for the entire University community. We will only achieve our goal of a balanced, diverse and inclusive workforce if we continue to build equity, diversity and inclusion principles into everything we do, and consistently practise behaviours that contribute to a safe, respectful and inclusive experience for all.

In 2023, the University will prioritise a number of projects critical to creating real and sustainable progress towards gender equity. Inclusive leadership is a key priority under a new Leadership Framework currently being developed as part of the Operating Plan’s Our People Program, and an overarching plan for progressing staff and student diversity, inclusion and belonging will be launched in May. Work is also underway to build a more robust equitable remuneration framework that will help to progress our goal of eliminating the gender pay gap, and we will continue to support the successful implementation of the Flexible Work framework.

Of particular concern to me and the leadership team are the reports we have received through our Inclusion@Work survey of staff experiencing everyday exclusion because of their gender, sexuality, disability, age or cultural background. We have a zero-tolerance approach at Macquarie to any form of discrimination, bullying or sexual harassment and building a culture of inclusion is everyone’s responsibility. In 2023, under the new diversity, inclusion and belonging strategy, we will focus attention on preventing any form of discrimination, bullying or sexual harassment and on building respectful and inclusive behaviours across all areas of our University.

Gender equity is both a challenge and an enormous opportunity for our University. The progress we have made is due to the commitment and collaborative effort of many members of our community, and I thank every one of you for your contribution. My aim is for everyone in our University community to see visible, lasting change in gender equity in the coming years and I ask all of you to lend your support.

S Bruce Dowton MD





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