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How tech can make Respect@Work more human

By Kyla Wilson | |5 minute read

In November, the government passed the Anti-Discrimination and Human Rights Legislation Amendment Bill, which implements the recommendations from the Respect@Work report. The passing of the bill mandates employers have greater transparency, compliance, reporting and governance on matters relating to human rights, gender equality and discrimination.

Siloed systems

However, many organisations will struggle to meet their obligations as HR data is often siloed across many different systems. This will limit the effectiveness of organisations in upholding these important regulations. Without careful planning and preparation, HR practitioners will struggle to fulfil their new obligations.


Businesses cannot afford to waste worker hours, lose track of data, or put themselves in jeopardy by keeping key data in outdated systems. The pandemic showed us how digital transformation journeys could improve productivity and efficiency. These lessons now need to be applied to manage the additional HR compliance, accountability, and reporting work following the legislation change.

The Respect@Work report, released in 2020, set a course for reform and shone a spotlight on the prevalence of sexual harassment in Australian workplaces. The recently passed bill includes recommendations such as positive duty and prohibiting hostile working environments, to help address the worrying level of issues identified in the 2018 Australian Human Rights Commission’s national survey on workplace sexual harassment. 

Adopting fully digitised HR case management, incident reporting, and data management will help businesses get ahead of the curve. The reality is the new obligations are too important and complex to manage through legacy systems or spreadsheets.

No time to waste

The Workplace Gender Equality Act (WGEA) was passed in 2012 and mandated reporting for non-public sector employees. Despite these reporting requirements being a decade old, many organisations still struggle with the complexities of WGEA reporting, underlining why it is important to plan and ensure internal systems and processes are future-ready. In 2021, there were still 126 companies listed as not being compliant with WGEA requirements.

Technological solutions can guarantee a discreet, seamless and timely experience when managing HR cases, which will make data more easily accessible, and better highlight trends to meet the increased governance requirements laid out in the latest legislation.

Safety and security

This information is vital, as it will be essential in enabling HR and management teams to identify peaks and flows in trends, such as a potential increase in harassment cases in certain months, or if there has been increase in certain types of harassment. This will give businesses access to quality reporting, and the ability to fulfil their positive duty as they are able to better detect, manage and mitigate situations before they occur. 

Using the latest technology tools will also enable far greater levels of security, an urgent priority after the high-profile hacks of 2022. Keeping highly personal information in simple tools or documents will not provide adequate privacy or protection.

Having a technology solution supporting case management and having actions assigned to people means that all the necessary steps are taken to ensure the care of the people going through difficult experiences, like harassment or discrimination.

Taking action

As the Respect@Work report revealed, more care needs to be taken to ensure sexual harassment is reduced in Australia, and the best way for workplaces to guarantee they are managing these issues and responsibilities with empathy, care, and auditable processes is by adopting holistic technology solutions that don’t just record events but also ensure all the relevant actions are followed-up with in a timely manner.

Identifying and investing in the right solutions won’t just help keep employees protected. It will also lay the foundation for future opportunities to expand the way technology is used internally and enhance the potential productivity of an organisation.

Now is the time to begin thinking about how you will tackle these requirements in your workplace with the compassion and effectiveness needed. Leaders who fail to act may find themselves on the wrong side of the law in the future.

Kyla Wilson is an advisory solution consultant at ServiceNow.