Top-to-Bottom Talent Management


To explore the impact of institutional pressure on the management of organisational gender diversity.

About the project

Women constitute almost half of the total workforce in Australia. Yet, in 2010, about 92% of all executives or board members of the 200 largest publicly listed companies were men. This over-representation prevailed despite more than 25 years of equal-opportunity employment legislation, a shrinking labour market and the accumulating empirical evidence that economic growth is associated with women participating in the workforce. ...less

In December 2009, the Australian Securities Exchange sought to address this imbalance with a requirement for publicly listed companies to report on their gender diversity plans and progress at all levels. Almost immediately, this had an impact: by 2012, 22% of new board appointments were women.

The question remains, however: what will be the long-term effects? Funded by an Australian Research Council linkage grant, this three-year project examines the impact of the ASX regulations and where they might lead. For example, while many ASX-listed organisations are undoubtedly embracing gender diversity, are others engaging in mere ‘window-dressing’? And what of smaller organisations outside the control of the ASX? Will they be inspired to utilise the female workforce more fully or dismiss gender disparities as a ‘big-company’ problem?

To find out more about this project, read the project information sheet here. A detatiled summary of the project's findings to date can be found here; an update will be provided in 2017.  Alternatively, email Professor Carol Kulik for more information.


Chief investigators: Professor Carol Kulik (School of Management) and Professor Isabel Metz (Melbourne Business School).

Industry partners: Aegis and the Australian Senior Human Resources Roundtable.



Behind the Scenes


To explore the paradigm shifts and sticking points of diversity management.

About the project

Employing a diverse workforce can be very positive for an organisation, leading people to be more engaged and perform better. In a previous research project on the topic, Making Diversity Work, the difference between whether diversity is an asset or a liability largely hinged on how the situation was managed. In this follow-up, we go ‘behind the scenes’ to show how you can initiate diversity and manage it positively to reap the rewards. more...

First, the positive factors that can motivate an organisation to adopt a more diverse workforce will be examined, whether they’re driven internally (such as the mindset of the leaders) or externally (such as regulatory forces).

In the second stage, the negative forces will be investigated: the internal inertia and group resistance that can sometimes create ‘sticking points’.

The third stage will consider what role a ‘champion’ can play by promoting the policies and practices that will help shift the paradigm.

To find out more about this project, read the product information sheet here or email Professor Carol Kulik (carol.kulik@unisa.edu.au) or Professor Isabel Metz (i.metz@mbs.edu).


Chief Investigators: Professor Carol Kulik (School of Management) and Professor Isabel Metz (Melbourne Business School).
Industry partners: The 100% Project and the Australian Senior Human Resources Roundtable.


Ageing Agenders Project

Work, care, retirement and healthAim

To compare and contrast the relative prospects for men and women heading into retirement.

About the project

Every week, about a thousand Australians retire. In 2014, one news survey found over one-third of over-50s has less than $100,000 in superannuation. That’s cause for alarm with an ageing population. But, to date, no-one has explored how those figures divide by sex. Are the same women who fought for equality at work about to experience inequality in retirement? ...less

The Australian Research Council awarded a linkage grant to undertake this analysis to compare and contrast just how Australians are facing retirement by gender. We will be weighing people’s key economic resources (their work income, superannuation, aged pension and other assets) against the demands they face. For example, with more women in the workforce, are they the ones under pressure to work longer to care for ageing relatives?


Chief investigators: Professor Barbara Pocock, Professor Carol Kulik, Professor Sara Charlesworth (RMIT) and Doctor Lyndall Strazdins (ANU).

Partner investigators: Doctor Carla Harris and Catherine Wood from partner organisations the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (formerly the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency) and Women in Super.

To view the final report please click here.


The Quality Jobs and Quality Care Project

Quality jobs and quality care


To assist aged care providers to improve job quality with work practices, that will not only enhance the lives of their workers, but also the older Australians they care for.

About the project

Care workers are highly valued by the people they care for and there is strong demand for their services. Care workers constitute a low-paid, part-time, female workforce; workers report satisfaction with their jobs but dissatisfaction with their pay, work demands, and work hours. more...

Finding a way to improve the work practices and job quality of the people who care for our older Australians is, therefore, imperative for a number of reasons. First, it has a decided impact on the lives of these individuals and their families. But it also has an effect on the sustainability of this burgeoning industry, as it struggles to attract care workers to cover the needs of an ageing society. Ultimately, however, if we can improve the workplace for care workers, they will be able to create a happier, healthier and more fulfilling situation for the people they care for at home, in the community, or in residential care.

To find out more and to download our relevant publications, visit the project website.


Chief investigators:  Professor Sara Charlesworth and Associate Professor Deb King (Flinders University).
Project Leader: Jacquie Smith
Research Fellow: Sue Jarrad
Senior Research Fellow: Natalie Skinner
Funding source: 2013-2016 grant under the 2013 Aged Care Service Improvement and Healthy Ageing Grants Fund, Department of Health.
Industry partners: Helping Hand in SA, Brightwater Care Group in WA, Hammond Care in NSW and United Voice.


Labour Segmentation and Inequality in China

Our Aim

To identify the best regulatory and managerial responses to alleviate the labour segmentation and social inequality in China.

About the project

Three decades of sweeping economic reforms have generated a lot of positives for Chinese society: rapid economic growth, increased foreign investment and trade, and growing foreign reserves. more...

But the reforms have had a dark side. Rural and inland communities have been neglected in favour of developing urban and coastal areas. Unsustainable development has degraded China’s natural environment. And the Chinese labour force has become increasingly stratified, with a small proportion of high-income skilled and professional workers atop a much larger proportion of low-income unskilled and semi-skilled workers.

Understandably, this volatile situation has given rise to social and industrial instability; the Chinese government and trade unions have been under pressure to protect disadvantaged workers. This has led them to experiment with their regulation and innovate with their management practices. But this is completely new territory for the socialist state.

The purpose of our now-completed three-year project funded by the Australian Research Council, therefore, was to help identify the best levers to contain this economic inequality. Given the strong trade relationship between our two nations, it is undoubtedly in Australia’s interests to promote stability and prosperity in China.

To find out more about this project, email Professor Ying Zhu.


Researchers: Professor John Benson and Professor Ying Zhu, together with Professor Michael Webber of the University of Melbourne.

Work, life and flexibility project

Work, life and flexibilityThis Australian Research Council Linkage project ‘A study of flexibilities that enable workforce participation and skill development and use, and their implications for work-life outcomes in Australia’’ awarded to Prof Barbara Pocock and partners Safework SA and the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations is examining how improved flexibility can assist the reconciliation of work and caring responsibilities, higher levels of employment participation and increasing skill development and utilisation and thus improve the well-being of Australian workers and their families.