City defends gender imbalance

Gareth Thomas, Talitha Wolfe, Tayler Neale and Tim EdmundsAlbany Advertiser

Of the City of Albany’s 31 highest-paid workers, only four are women, among the worst ratios in of regional WA cities.

The Albany Advertiser can reveal through a Freedom of Information request only 13 per cent, (four officers) of the 31 people who took home $100,000 in salary and allowances in the 2015/16 financial year were women, despite women making up 55 per cent of the City’s total workforce.

The City’s six-person executive team includes no women.

At the City of Bunbury, 28 per cent, or seven of the 25 staff earning more than $100,000 were women.

While at the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, 25 per cent, or seven, of the 28 people earned more than $100,000 were women and one of its three executives is a woman.

The City of Greater Geraldton had marginally better gender representation than Albany, with 14 per cent women, or three of their 21 staff, earning $100,000 or more.

Statistics from the Gender Equality Agency show the City is behind the national average, where women make up 28 per cent of key management roles and 30 per cent of executive/general management roles across all sectors.

Despite only four of the City of Albany’s 31 highest-paid officers being female, City chief executive Andrew Sharpe said 38 per cent of the City’s “leadership roles” were filled by women.

Albany councillor Janelle Price said she had frequently raised the matter of the lack of diversity within the City’s executive and management staff with Mayor Dennis Wellington and Mr Sharpe, and had requested an audit of employee demography to better understand the City’s workforce.

“Lower pay and reduced professional opportunity for women is now recognised through credible studies conducted by the business sector,” she said.

“However the City appears to be less proactive than the business sector and disinterested in the discourse around genuine opportunity for women.”

Cr Price said she could not comprehend how the dynamic at the top end of the City came to be.

“Perhaps nobody does, but I would like to see tangible steps towards the City becoming a more balanced and representative employer, in real, measurable terms, that is,” she said.

Mr Sharpe said people were recruited first and foremost on their merit for the role.

He said under the Local Government Act, the City was required to go through a thorough and transparent recruitment process.

“Like any employer, we assess all applications based on merit and experience before selecting the best person for the job, irrespective of gender,” he said.

“The City is very supportive of providing career advancement for its female leaders based on the above process and as opportunities arise.”

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