The progress auditing process

Information about the three-stage process you need to undertake to complete your progress audit.

Conducting a progress audit requires working closely with data custodians (that is, people who define, collect and manage the data in a business context) to gather data from various systems or parts of your organisation.

For example, HR data, recruitment data and payroll data may all have separate processes to extract the required information for the progress audit.

It is important that everyone involved in the data collection process is aware of the sensitivities of collecting gender-disaggregated and intersectional data. For more information on how to maintain your employees’ privacy, please refer to section Privacy and Confidentiality above.

The Commissioner recommends the following process is undertaken to complete your progress audit.

  • Stage 1 – prepare for your progress audit by designing your collection process.
  • Stage 2 – complete the collection of your progress audit data.
  • Stage 3 – analyse your progress audit data to determine your audit results.

The stages and high-level steps are outlined in the following figure.

Stages and steps in outline

  • Download' Stages and steps in outline'

This multi-stage process is like what you used to complete a workplace gender audit in 2021 in support of your Gender Equality Action Plan. 

However, in 2023, the Commissioner has changed and improved the method for collecting, analysing and submitting your progress audit data. The changes aim to make it easier and quicker for you to analyse data by using tools within the reporting platform, rather than requiring you to develop your own offline analysis.

Change in process between 2021 and 2023

  • Download' Change in process between 2021 and 2023'

As indicated in the figure above, in 2021 your organisation collected and analysed data using a combination of your own tools and the Commission’s workforce reporting template. Populating the audit required significant effort and doing so without introducing errors was difficult.

In 2023, the Commission has revised the audit process and the capabilities of the reporting platform so that the platform can convert your data into data measures for your progress audit. This will allow you to review and analyse your data using the inbuilt reports. Once reviewed and approved by your organisation, the results can be formally submitted to the Commission.

Note: Estimates for the time commitment for the audit process are not provided. This is because the effort required by each organisation can vary significantly depending on resource capacity and capability and the preparation approach taken.

Stage 1 - preparation

In this stage you will design the process and plan for what and how you’ll collect your progress audit data. This will include:

  • Identifying people who will be involved or responsible.
  • Communicating to your workforce and executive if required.
  • Identifying where the progress audit data is coming from.
  • Deciding how you will convert your data to match the required format.
  • Deciding how you will review your data so that it is correct and complete.
  • Identifying and resourcing the necessary skills to support the process.
  • Documenting and agreeing your process with people who will be involved.

When designing this process, consider the following:

  1. Nominate a process owner that will be the main point of contact. They will manage the process for completing the audit and will be the owner of the progress audit data while the process is underway.

Note: Your progress audit process owner is distinct from your organisation’s reporting process owner but can be the same resource.

The progress audit process owner is the main point of contact and will manage the process of completing the progress audit.

The reporting process owner is delegated by the head of your organisation to be the main point of contact for the organisation in relation to all obligations.

  1. Prepare your systems and processes so that your progress audit data will be securely managed. Do this while it is being prepared for submission using the Commission’s reporting platform.
  2. Decide whether and how to communicate to your workforce about why you are doing a progress audit and how it will be conducted.
  3. Determine what workforce data you need to collect. Appendix B: progress audit handbook provides the detail to help you understand what data is required and how it is defined.

Tip: A progress audit may contain a mixture of required and optional data. The number of required data elements has not increased in 2023 when compared to the 2021 audit. Consequently, you may be able to reuse some of the existing processes from your 2021 audit to gather the required data for 2023. If you can collect data marked as optional, you are encouraged to do so as it will help to develop a more complete picture of your workforce and enable greater insights.

  1. Decide where your workforce data will come from. Consider both existing systems (such as workforce management, recruitment, training and payroll) and existing gender equality data sets (such as workplace equality and respect self-assessments, Athena SWAN or information from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency).
  2. Identify and engage with the owners of these systems and existing data sets to decide how the workforce data will be extracted and prepared, including how you will check that the data is complete and correct.
  3. Determine if you need to collect employee experience data. See Collecting employee experience data for your progress audit below for more information. 
  4. Identify any risks or challenges with collecting progress audit data and how you will address them.
  5. Identify and resource the skillsets you will need to complete the process.

We strongly recommend that the people responsible for this work are skilled in the use of tools such as Excel and have sound data collection and analysis skills. 

If these skills are not available in your team, then you may wish to consider internal skills development, joining a community of practice, and/or engaging external expertise.

  1.  Document the steps you will follow, the responsibilities for completing those steps, their duration and order to complete. Provide opportunities for stakeholders involved to review and confirm the process and plan.

Collecting employee experience data for your progress report

Data about your employee experiences forms part of a progress audit. This data is obtained from an employee experience survey and complements the workforce data to help you better understand gender inequality in your organisation.

There are two sources of this data:

  1. For organisations that participate in the Victorian Public Sector Commission’s (VPSC) 2023 People Matter Survey (PMS), including the People matter survey for local government, the VPSC will collect and provide the employee experience data to the Commission on behalf of your organisation.
  2. Organisations that do not participate in the 2023 PMS will be responsible for providing employee experience data to the Commission.

Organisations that do not participate in the 2023 PMS can administer the survey in-house (not recommended) or through a third-party provider. The survey questions and guidance on collecting employee experience data (including safety and anonymity protocols, survey methodology, specifications, organisational response, and referral protocols) are available on our progress audit page of our website.

Note that for organisations that choose to administer their own survey in-house or through a third-party provider the time commitment may be significant. Ensure time for preparing, executing, and gathering results from the survey is accounted for in your plan.

Stage 2 - data collection

In this stage, you will run the process you designed in stage one and gather the data into the necessary templates. The completed templates can be uploaded to the Commission’s reporting platform to help you analyse the data and to determine your results from your progress audit.

  1. After 30 June 2023, work with the relevant people and teams (using the process you designed in Stage 1 above) to collect and/or extract the data. The data you extract should be as at the last pay run immediately prior to the end of the reporting period i.e. 30 June 2023 (31 March 2023 for universities)
  2. Perform data quality assurance, such as checking for duplicates or abnormal figures, so that the data is as accurate as possible.

Tip: This step is important. In later steps the reporting platform will also check the quality of your data, but it will not be able to detect these types of problems.

  1. Load the data into the progress audit collection templates.
    1. All defined entities must populate the workforce reporting template.
    2. Defined entities that do not participate in the 2023 PMS should also populate the employee experience reporting template. 

Tip: The workforce reporting template and employee experience reporting template are available on our progress audit page.

  1. Before uploading or publishing your progress audit data, you must remove any unnecessary personal information such as employee names.

Personal information means information or an opinion (including information or an opinion forming part of a database) that is recorded in any form and whether true or not, about an individual whose identity is apparent, or can reasonably be identified, from the information or opinion. It does not include information of a kind to which the Health Records Act 2001 applies. This definition has been taken from section 3 of the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014. Refer to the Privacy and confidentiality section of this guidance for further information about your organisation’s responsibilities.

Stage 3 - data analysis

  1. Upload your progress audit data using the reporting platform. Follow the instructions in the reporting platform user guide.

Tip: The workforce reporting template captures data in a unit level format. We have designed it this way to help organisations prepare and validate their data most efficiently in 2023.
In 2021, almost all organisations submitted unit level data. Unit level data can be analysed automatically by the data quality report (indicated below). This allows you to receive feedback about the quality and completeness of your data shortly after you upload it.

If your organisation would like to discuss submitting aggregate data, please contact us. Please note that you will need to prepare your data in a specialised version of the workforce reporting template, and that aggregate data cannot be analysed by the data quality report.
That means you won’t be able to receive feedback about the quality and completeness of your data until after February 2024 when the Commission evaluates your progress audit results as a part of evaluating your progress report.

  1. Once uploaded, use the reporting platform to change the status of your progress audit to ‘review’. The data you uploaded will be processed and compiled into reports. These will include: 
    1. Indicator reports: presents the data measures associated with each of the workplace gender equality indicators. 
    2. A data quality report: helps you assess if your progress audit data meets our requirements. 
    3. Benchmarking and other reports: may help you to analyse your progress audit data and compare it with your previous audit data or against your industry sector.  
  2. Using the reporting platform user guide, review your data quality report and address any data quality issues that have been highlighted. 

The ‘review’ stage and the data quality report are new self-service features of the reporting platform in 2023.

By using the data quality report, you will be able to see any issues with the information you submitted and will be provided with guidance on how to resolve those issues.

After reviewing your data quality report, the reporting platform will allow you to make changes to your audit data without needing to contact the Commission.

Please note that the data quality report is only available if you upload unit level data.

  1. Using the following section (gender equality indicator data measures) and the reporting platform user guide, analyse your data to assess the state and nature of gender inequality in your workplace.

Tip: guidance for how to use the reporting platform to support this analysis can be found in the reporting platform user guide on our website.

  1. Finalise and submit the results of your progress audit and use this information in your progress report.

Tip: Refer to the progress report guidance for information about how to use the results of your progress audit to prepare your progress report.