Carter / Winning the talent war

BY 2055, Australia’s workforce participation rate will be 2.2 per cent lower than the 62.4 per cent it is today and any business looking to attract and retain talented people had better hold on to its hat. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Catherine Carter.

Catherine Carter.

The Australian government’s newly released fourth “Intergenerational Report” argues that our nation’s prosperity is at risk unless we work longer, boost productivity and attract more women into the workforce.

And there is the crux of why workforce diversity has become a hot-button issue and a conundrum for the property and construction industry, where the level of female employment has remained static at 13 per cent for the past decade.

A compelling new report from EY, “The Next Big Deal is On”, finds that women leave the construction industry well before they start having families.

Why? Because “younger women see the writing on the wall” and move to other industries where they believe they’ll gain more opportunities for career progression and work/life balance.

To tackle this, the industry has established Property Male Champions of Change, the first industry-specific group of 22 male CEOs focused on boosting workforce diversity.

Diversity is not only a problem for property and construction. Women make up 51 per cent of Australia’s population, 46 per cent of the paid workforce, 60 per cent of university graduates, and yet just three ASX200 companies have female CEOs.

On average, a woman graduate’s starting salary is $5000 less than that of a man doing the same job. And the pay gap has widened to 20 per cent in recent years. We’re going backwards.

It’s inconceivable that 49 per cent of Australia’s population could possess 100 per cent of the skills and abilities. “The Intergenerational Report” should act as a clarion call to any business leader thinking about how to win the war on talent.

Catherine Carter is ACT executive director of the Property Council of Australia.

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