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70 days to equal pay

Today is Equal Pay Day.

It is 70 days since the end of financial year, marking the additional number of days beyond 30th June that women need to work to earn as much as their male counterparts did by that date.

The gender pay gap is calculated as the difference between the average weekly full time equivalent earnings of men and women, expressed as a percentage of men’s earnings. It is released annually by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency based on data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (cat. No. 6302.0) and currently sits at 16.2% – that is $261.10 per week, or $13,577 per year. Over the past two decades it has hovered between 15% and 19%.

Historically the belief has existed that women do not ask for pay rises however recent research shows the opposite to be true; “Women do ask. However, women do not get.” This study of more than 4,600 workers across more than 800 Australian employers found that female workers are just as likely to ask for a pay rise. Unfortunately they are less likely to receive one.

The government sector boasts the lowest gender pay gap at 12% when considering industry differences; whereas the private sector gap weighs in at 19.6%. It is suggested that this may be influenced by the majority of public sector employees being engaged under a collective agreement with high levels of transparency in a political-driven environment, compared to the preferred use of individual agreements in the market-driven private enterprise environment; along with differences in the size of the organisations, education and qualifications of workers, and balance of female and male employees.

When considering geographies, here in NSW we have the third highest gap at 17.1% which is a reduction of 1.9% since 2015.

The gender pay gap is believed to be influenced by a range of interrelated occupational, societal and family factors, including stereotyping of suitability of genders to roles and industries, a lack of flexible work options in senior roles, the more interrupted attachment of females to the workforce due primarily to unpaid family responsibilities, and indirect and direct discrimination. And with just 15.4% girl power in CEO positions, an argument exists for the lack of female representation at the top. Alas, the reasons are not fully understood.

When women do reach a managerial level, the pay gap increases a whopping 7.9%, measuring a 28.8% difference between men and women compared to non-managerial positions.

Whilst organisations can take steps to create a pay equity strategy and action plan to identify and address any gender pay gap that may exist in their business, such as reviewing remuneration decision making processes, including pay equity metrics in executive reporting, analysing performance pay, training managers to deal with gender bias, and conducting a gender-based job evaluation process, it is argued that as a society we also need to contribute by changing stereotypes. That it should not just be about encouraging women to climb the corporate ladder, but that collectively we should consider this challenge beyond the workplace and empower women to make choices that allow them to pursue their own career aspirations.



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