WGEA reporting changes in response to Respect@Work

Rely-WGEA reporting changes in response to Respect@Work

On Thursday 10 August 2023, Rely and Your Call hosted a webinar with Executive Manager, Education & Research for the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, Penelope Cottrill, and Your Call‘s Head of Advisory, Kirsty Harvison, to discuss:

  • The rationale and intent for changes to reporting on sexual harassment
  • Findings from WGEA’s research on better practice collection of data on workplace sexual harassment
  • What we can learn from employers who are leading the way

10 Key Takeouts

These key takeouts provide insights into the importance of preparing for the new reporting requirements, understanding the indicators of good practice, and ensuring effective data collection and reporting mechanisms are in place.

  • Reporting requirements for employers with at least 100 employees will change next year, with a focus on sexual harassment. The changes align with the Respect@Work findings and recommendations to encourage action and improvement in preventing and responding to sexual harassment. The idea is that what gets measured and reported on receives attention and action.

New questions on workplace sexual harassment will be mandatory from 2024

Four areas expanded for WGEA data collectionWGEA will ask about
Existence of a policy or strategy and its inclusionsInclusion of a grievance process
Training and frequency
Leadership communication on expected behaviours
Disclosure processes
Risk management practices relating to sexual harassmentInclusion of sexual harassment in risk management processes
Actions/responses put in place as part of a risk management process
Organisational measurement of sexual harassment prevalence and reporting to leadershipType of data collected on sexual harassment complaints and outcomes
High level sexual harassment reporting and response data
Whether data is reporting to governing bodies
Supports available for staff who have or are experiencing sexual harassmentInternal supports
Confidential external supports (e.g. EAP)
Union/worker representative support
Vicarious trauma training for employees, witnesses and responding staff
Source: Workplace Gender Equality Agency

  • It’s important for employers to identify and establish systems for collecting the necessary data for reporting. This includes understanding where the data will come from, how it will be integrated, and how it aligns with broader practices and processes. 
  • Building on established systems and practices is a good starting point for effective data collection. Mature systems like case management systems can be leveraged to gather accurate data.
  • Organisations should consider implementing systems that make it easier for employees to raise concerns about sexual harassment, such as anonymous reporting mechanisms like external speak-up hotlines. The goal is to create an environment where reporting is safe and effective.
  • Even if an organisation believes it doesn’t have any reports of sexual harassment or gender equality issues, it’s important to recognise that sexual harassment is often underreported. Therefore, employers should not solely rely on the absence of reported incidents to determine the health of their workplace culture. 
  • Raising awareness within the organisation is crucial. Some organisations use qualitative data gathering in addition to quantitative data to share personal stories that highlight the reality of sexual harassment, which can lead to a stronger commitment to addressing the issue. 
  • Leaders may not be aware of the extent of the problem if they don’t see evidence. Sharing stories and experiences with leaders can shock them into understanding the issue and taking action.
  • Organisations that excel in data collection and reporting have gone through a journey that involves safe reporting systems, training, policies, and building employees’ trust over time. The key is to start with an imperfect system and iterate on it to improve over time.
  • Organisations should have clear accountability for data collection and reporting, and it’s important to have cross-organisational involvement to address sexual harassment as a risk and health and safety concern.
  • Legislative reforms, including the requirement to publicly publish gender pay gaps, will help create momentum for change and emphasise the importance of gender equality in organisational agendas.

Complying with Respect@Work is the minimum standard. Let’s go beyond compliance and create safe, inclusive and respectful workplaces. Cut It Out!, brought to you by Rely and Your Call, is a program to help leaders combat workplace sexual harassment and comply with Respect@Work. Download a brochure to learn more.

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Rely-WGEA reporting changes in response to Respect@Work
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