Corporate Governance & Gender Equality Essay

Question:

Discuss about the Corporate Governance and Gender Equality.

Answer:

Introduction

This report seeks to discuss about the gender diversity and the importance of female representation in an organisation. The chosen case study company is BHP Billiton of Australia. BHP Billiton is the multinational company headquartered in Australia. This resource company has operation in metals and mining. Corporate governance is an important aspect of the business of this company. The objective of the company is to develop a harmonious workplace in BHP Billiton. The progress and diversity policy of the company emphasises the increasing number of female representation over the years both in the general level and in the leadership level. Identification of female candidates in the talent panel is the current policy of this company to increase female representation in the entry level. As stated by Sharp et al. (2012), gender equality is achieved, when people get access of equal facilities in a society or workplace irrespective of the gender.

Gender gap prevails in the Australian economy. Female workers in Australia earn less compared to men in terms of salary, other benefits such as career growth opportunity, less accumulation in retirement or superannuation savings. However, it can also be seen that men have less access in family friendly policy or parental leave and flexible work arrangement in comparison to the female counterpart (wgea.gov.au 2017). As per the annual report 2016 of BHP Billiton, female representation has increased in this company by 1% in the managerial role and 22% in the senior leadership role from 2015 to 2016 (bhpbilliton.com 2016). In Australia, female representation in the resource industry is less compared to other sectors. Female worker in resource sector is only 13% of total employment, 71% in education sector and 55% in the financial sector. This paper discusses the issues faced by BHP Billiton regarding gender issues in the business and the importance of female representation in this organisation.

Corporate Governance and female representation in BHP Billiton

Inclusion and gender diversity in the workplace is the important part of the corporate governance of BHP Billiton. They believe in employee engagement, workplace safety for better productivity. The culture of increasing number of female employment and recognition is the employee diversity policy of the company. BHP Billiton has CEO led inclusion and diversity committee to provide recommendation on developing culturally diversified and efficient employment. Female employee development, enhancing capability of the female employees are vision of the company (bhpbilliton.com 2016). Female employees have flexible work option, positive parental leave provision and securing safety policies in the workplace. During 2016, female representation in the BHP Billiton has increased from 7% in 2015 to 49% in 2016 at the global level and 52% in Australia.

Fitzgerald (2016) mentioned that present female workforce in BHP Billiton accounts for only 17.5% of total 28000 work force of this company. At the industry level, this ration is higher compared to other resource company in Australia. Although position of female employees is better compared to industry average, gender gap still prevails in the company. Number of female employees in this company is 4708 in 2016 as compared to 22119 numbers of male during 2016. Female employees in the senior leadership position are 65 during 2015 as compared to 251 male employees in the same year. The ration of number of female employee and male employee among the board members is significantly high that is 3: 7 in 2016. The figure is important as the number of female board members has increased from 2 in 2015 to 3 in 2016, whereas, male members have decreased to 7 in 2016 from 10 in 2015 (bhpbilliton.com 2016). Overall gender gap in the company has decreased from 2015 to 2016, which is positive indication towards gender diversity and equality.

Importance of female representation in an organisation and required guidelines

As stated by Broomhill and Sharp (2012), gender equality and diversity can be achieved in an organisation through equal pay and comparable value, removal of restriction on equal participation of female and male workers in the workplace. Gender equality provides equal occupation and growth opportunity in the company without any discrimination or gender bias. If an organisation achieves gender equality, it can improve productivity of the organisation as well as nation. Female employees can contribute significantly in the organisational growth through their skill and intelligence. Moreover, success of the female employees enhances reputation of the organisation both at national and international level. The analysis is based on the guidelines of Australian government regarding gender discrimination in workplace. Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) of Australian Government protects female workers from unlawful activities and gender discrimination in workplace (ag.gov.au 2017).

Aspects of gender equality in BHP Billiton

Being one of the leading names in the mining industry of entire world, BHP Billiton has brought revolutionary changes by adopting gender equality policy. The organization is known for providing equal opportunity to the female and male employees. The organizational management always appreciate and encourage the contribution of their female employees in the organizational function (Avanzi et al. 2017). The authority of BHP Billiton always provides a healthy and peaceful working environment to its female employee. At the same time they have strengthen their organizational rules and regulations to maintain workplace safety for their female employees. They encourage their female representatives to give their best performance to achieve the organizational goal. In this modern era, where the entire world is raising their voice for the gender equality, the organizational leaders of BHP Billiton have tried to implement gender equality in their organization (McPhail and Adams 2016). Although, there are some loopholes in the organizational structure, the organizational management is adopting various innovative strategies to ensure gender equality. It is often evident that female workers face various challenges in the workplace due to gender discrimination. As per the annual report of BHP Billiton, the organizational leaders of BHP Billiton are highly overwhelmed by the participation of the female workers in the organizational activity. As per the report, the organization is incorporating various strategies to stimulate the development of their female workers (de Villiers, Low and Samkin 2014). The organizational management provides various training sessions to their female staff members to enhance their skills and capacity which has stimulated the growth of their performance. The organization is appointing more and more female employees to support the women empowerment. They often provide various counselling sessions to their female employees to motivate them to enhance their inner qualities so they can equally contribute for the betterment of the organization. According to reports, woman participation in the organizational function has increased in past few years in significant manner. The organization operates in other countries of the world as well. The contribution of the woman workers in other parts of the world has increased in notable manner. The organization has appreciated the women participation in the leadership level as well. There are many experienced and skilled leaders in BHP Billiton who are equally efficient and contributing to establish a better future for the organization. They have left no stone unturned to achieve the desired goal for the organization. According to the chairman of BHP Billiton the participation of female staffs in the organizational function has enhances the profit margin of the organization and stimulate the talent pool of the organization. However, the organizational management of BHP Billiton must consider some important factors to maintain gender equality within the organization that has been discussed later. Otherwise, the organizational leaders have made good effort to provide friendly and enthusiastic environment to their female staff members (Garcia et al 2016).

Review of the Issues

Although, the organizational leaders of BHP Billiton has left no stone unturned to provide a safe and peaceful environment to the female employees of the organization, there are some issues that are being faced by the female employees of BHP Billiton. There are some loopholes in the organizational policy and organizational structure. Gender equality is not properly maintained within the organization. The female workers of the organization are experiencing gender discrimination while working in the organization. Male workers of the organization are availing additional facilities which are unavailable for the female employees, such as- shift timing for work, the wages and so on. It is often evident that the female workers are forced to do overtime after their shift which may causes safety issue for them. It can put negative impact on the organizational development and the performance of the employees (Hope 2015).

At the same time, female employees often get low wages than male workers which spread gender discrimination in the organization. The organizational management must consider the fact while designing their organizational structure.

According to many reports, Australia is one of the leading names in gender discrimination (Klettner 2016). There are large numbers of woman who are experiencing workplace violence every now and then. Moreover, as per the report they are receiving facilities like their other fellow male workers which has led the country in the leading position for gender discrimination. It has reflected in the organizational structure of BHP Billiton. They have also followed the path of country to some extend and unwilling to understand the real problems that has been faced by the female workers every now and then. The organizational management has ignored various serious issues of female workers without which it is impossible for the organizational management to maintain gender equality in the organization. There are some safety issues for the female workers of the organization. The organizational management has not provided sufficient safety to their female workers (Sealy et al. 2015). They often face various safety and security issues in the organization, such as- physical violence, threat, abuse, molestation. They are often targeted by their fellow workers and local goons and pressure groups. It is the responsibility of BHP Billiton to ensure workplace safety for each of their employees. Otherwise, it is impossible for the organizational management to maintain gender equality in the organization. Moreover, it may put negative impact on the organizational development as female workers are equally contributing for the betterment of the organization and they are considered as equally capable of stimulate the growth of the organization (Mikalsen 2014).

Reasons of this issue

There are some significant issues that are responsible for the issue of gender inequality in the organization, such as:

Lack of effective organizational policy is one of the major reason for which female workers are suffering from workplace violence and other issues within the organization. In order to establish a safe and gender discrimination free workplace, the organizational management needs to strengthen their policy and organizational structure. The organizational management has not made their organizational policy in an efficient manner to ensure workplace safety for the employees (Cane 2014).

Lack of social awareness among the organizational leaders and other employees is another major reason for which the female workers of the organization face various difficulties in the workplace. People are not aware of the fact such as gender equality, women empowerment. Due to this they are not willing to provide equal opportunities to the female workers like male staff members. It is the responsibility of the organizational management to make their male workers aware of such factors to maintain gender equality in the organization.


Due to lack of workplace violence policy the organizational management is unable to maintain gender discrimination free workplace for their female employees. The workplace violence policy of BHP Billiton is highly weak and the organization does not pay much attention to implement this strategy within the organization which has led the employees to face workplace violence frequently. The organizational management does not punish the accused people who treat their fellow workers badly. It has encouraged such negative practices within the organization (Ross 2016).

The organizational management has avoided the safety issue of their women employees. It is one of the major reason for which the female workers of BHP Billiton are facing safety issues in the organization. The organizational management must appoint some security people who can protect their female employees during an awful occurrence. Otherwise, it may spoil the reputation of the organization (Salinas 2013).

Recommendations for sustainability

The organizational management of BHP Billiton must strengthen their policies and include zero tolerance policy and workplace violence rule in their rule book. They must implement zero tolerance policy in the organization to ensure workplace safety for their employees. They must make sure that all of their employees are aware of these policies and they are avoiding all such practices that can spoil the harmony of the organization.

The organizational management must provide training and development programme to their employees to provide them lesson about gender equality, workplace violence and so on. It will be beneficial for the organization to avoid awful occurrences in the organization, as it is important for the male employees to understand the female workers are their fellow workers and they must pay respect to them.

The organizational management of BHP Billiton must provide equal facilities to their male and female employees. They must realize that both of their employees are equally efficient and equally important to achieve the organizational goal. The organizational management must provide all the facilities to their female employees like male workers, such as- leaves, friendly shift timing.

The organizational leaders must redesign their organizational structure and pay equal wages to their female employees. They must understand that female employees are equally contributing to achieve the organizational goal.


The organizational management must make sure that all the employees are obeying workplace violence rule in the organization and avoiding any negative practices. Otherwise they must be punished for their activity. It will be beneficial for the organizational leaders of BHP Billiton to implement their policies accurately. They can smoothly maintain gender equality in their organization by such practices.

The organizational management must encourage their female employees to provide efficient service to the organization by appreciating them. The organization must encourage their female employees like male employees. It will beneficial for the organization to maintain gender equality in the organization.

The organizational management of BHP Billiton must appoint some responsible security person in the organization who can protect their employees from any awful consequence. It will be helpful for their female employees to work in the organization and to maintain healthy workplace environment

Conclusion

As per the previous discussion, it can be stated that the organizational management of BHP Billiton is trying to maintain gender equality in their organization. They have encouraged their female employees to enhance their skills and always appreciate their employees for their contribution. However, there are some loopholes in the organizational structure of the organization. The organizational leaders must consider some factors while designing their organizational structure. They must implement some efficient policies to ensure workplace safety for their female employees, such as- zero tolerance policy, workplace violence policy. They must appoint skilled security person to maintain safety and privacy of the organization. It is often evident that organizational management does not provide equal facilities to their female employees. In order to maintain gender equality in the organization, the organizational management must make sure that all the employees are availing equal facilities and there is no discrimination in terms of leaves, wages, workload and so on.

Reference:

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