Duty to promote gender equality


Defined entities have a duty to promote gender equality when developing policies and programs and in delivering services that are to be provided to the public, or have a direct and significant impact on the public.

Defined entities should apply an intersectional gender lens when taking action to comply with this duty. An intersectional gender lens means taking a perspective that considers people’s overlapping attributes (such as age, gender, sexuality, race etc) to understand the discrimination or disadvantage they face.

Examples of work that could benefit from an intersectional gender lens include:

  • providing gender analysis training
  • developing and reviewing policies, programs, and services
  • procuring goods, services, suppliers or consultants
  • developing contracts
  • assessing the provision of funding or grants
  • recruiting, developing or promoting staff
  • developing processes and strategies
  • communicating with stakeholders and the community.

Building organisational awareness is key to gaining employee buy-in, support and engagement with proposed actions to address intersectional gender inequality. Organisations should use a multipronged approach via executives and senior leaders, employee-wide engagement, and through the voices of employees with intersectional attributes. Examples could include:

  • Executives and senior leaders should make a public commitment to build a diverse, intersectional workforce, and reduce discrimination or disadvantage. This can be achieved through a written statement on a website or a video of senior leaders committing to intersectionality, and publicly promoting current work underway that uses an intersectional lens.
  • Executives and leaders should demonstrate their commitment through role modelling inclusive behaviour and actively engaging in actions that make a tangible difference to tackling intersectional gender inequality.
  • Organisations can engage employees through initiatives that build organisational awareness of intersectionality, such as celebrating and leveraging commemorative days to create awareness.
  • Organisations can promote understanding of intersectionality and develop an awareness of biases, barriers, disadvantages, and discrimination (systemic and individual) through training programs and workshops.
  • Organisations should also review imagery and language in internal and external facing publications. This will communicate widely across the organisation that the entity is inclusive of all people with intersectional attributes.
  • Organisations should promote the voices of employees with intersectional attributes on internal forums (such as Townhalls, Panels of Speakers) and in both internal and external media. This will normalise their visibility and representation and encourage greater inclusion.
  • Organisations should support staff–led networks that provide a safe space for employees who may experience intersectional gender inequality. Ensure employee groups have executive sponsorship and provide adequate funding and other resources if they are a volunteer group.
  • Organisations need to highlight the views of their employees with intersectional attributes (with their permission) and share widely the de-identified intersectional data collected, to better inform decision-makers on staff’s experiences, and guide their responses.

Organisations can also work towards applying an intersectional gender lens to their duty to promote gender equality by strengthening intersectional community and stakeholder engagement. Examples could include:

  • Organisations should conduct meaningful consultation that obtains intersectional perspectives from within the community. Identify the groups of people with similar intersectional attributes in your gender equality stakeholder map, such as community groups representing different intersectional attributes (Aboriginality, age, disability, ethnicity, gender identity, race, religion, sexual orientation, and other attributes).
  • Collaborative and inclusive relationships with these groups will provide insights into engagement and possible actions that can be taken. It will also allow intersectional community members to raise concerns regarding the impact of service delivery to them.
  • When engaging with community groups, ensure that appropriate feedback mechanisms are in place.



Colleen shares how to use research in the market to promote a greater understanding of women with a disability.

Michelle, a transwoman, shares in her interview, “Don’t judge me by what I am, but by who I am” and discusses how making others aware of the struggles can reduce bias.

Tanvi, identifying as a woman of colour, calls for everyone to, “Remove the Blindfolds”. Tanvi wants the real issues of women of colour to be heard and understood.

Case study

Read about how an organisation used its year-end celebrations to engage employees with intersectional attributes to share diverse stories.