Skip to content

Let’s close the gender pay gap now

   
Let’s close the gender pay gap now
Let’s do it – let’s have pay equity for women and men who are doing similar jobs
Christine Christian

Westpac has done it, Telstra, Woolworths, ANZ, NAB, CSR and BP are on to it, and even number-crunchers such as accountants KPMG are doing it.

So let’s do it – let’s have pay equity for women and men who are doing similar jobs.

Pay equity is not something leaders can set and forget. It requires an understanding of the data and a willingness to investigate when gaps emerge.

With many Australian businesses now regularly reporting on efforts to build better gender diversity, and boost women in leadership, there’s growing recognition that the well-documented gender pay gap also needs to be addressed.

Fortunately, the business case has never been clearer: closing the gap is about attracting and retaining the best talent, avoiding costly turnover and ensuring a return on investment for Australia’s largest cohort of higher education graduates – women.

There is an 18.2 per cent difference between male and female average weekly full-time earnings, according to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency.

That figure has widened from 17.1 per cent a year ago, and is unacceptably similar to the pay gap 20 years ago. This Friday’s Equal Pay Day [Sept 5] is 66 days after the end of the financial year – that’s the amount of extra time the average woman would have to work to make the same as the average man. And the gap emerges right across the economy, in all sectors and at all levels.

Alarmingly, the pay gap actually widens the further up the ranks women climb, with AFR Boss research published in April showing senior executive women at top listed companies earn 20 per cent less than men in similar roles. Analysis also showed senior women tended to be clustered more in lower paid support roles than in line management.

A range of structural factors contribute to the gap, including sector and occupational segregation, which means more women are working in lower paid sectors, and the impact of part-time work. The finger has also been pointed at the resources boom and women’s poor negotiating skills.

But clearly the problem is not confined to one sector, or to women failing to ‘lean in’. One of the highest gaps of 30 per cent occurs in the financial services sector which employs many women in office-based jobs.

The good news is the spread of gender pay audits shows business leaders believe action can be taken to address the problem. The Chief Executive Women I represent believe that change has to start at the top, and we call on leaders of businesses and organisations across the country to commit to taking the single most important step in attracting and retaining talent.

Transparency of pay scales and criteria for promotion, and auditing fixed and variable pay components are other crucial tools in addressing the gap. Organisations committed to closing the gap are also building a data base of information on pay which can help track the effects of career breaks on progression and remuneration.

This article appears in the Australian Financial Review (paywall), 5 September 2014.


Christine Christian

CHRISTINE CHRISTIAN

Christine Christian is Non Executive Company Director, ME Bank Limited, Lonsec Fiscal, Powerlinx Inc., State Library of Victoria

RECOMMENDED
ARTICLES

New data from Workplace Gender Equality Agency released today shows that progress on closing the workplace gender pay gap has stalled. Women are on average earning $26,600 less than men. The WGEA 2021-22 Employer Census also found: ❌ Just 22% of CEOs are women. ❌ Men are more likely to hold managerial positions, even in...
The Chief Executive Women Leadership Summit, hosted on Tuesday, 6 September 2022, brought leaders together for an uncensored conversation about what can be done to break through the malaise and achieve gender equality for the benefit of all in Australia. In a day of inspiring discussion and keynote speeches, attendees were left empowered to drive...
Chief Executive Women welcomes the Albanese Government’s Federal Budget and Women’s Budget Statement, which recognise that gender equality is at the heart of Australia’s future prosperity and resilience. CEW supports investments in measures to address cost of living pressures and enable women’s workforce participation, economic contribution, health and safety. READ MORE
Leveraging women’s participation and leadership is one of the most effective actions for business and government to boost the Australian economy. As we build for recovery, while facing critical labour and skills shortages, we need to invest in our people and place care at the centre of our economy. We cannot afford to delay this...
Chief Executive Women welcomes the Albanese Labor Government’s announcement to boost Commonwealth Paid Parental Leave (PPL) from 18 weeks to 26 weeks. CEW has long advocated for a package of reforms, of which PPL is a critical lever, in unlocking women’s workforce participation and boosting the economy. The increase to 26 weeks paid parental leave,...
The progress on women reaching the most senior leadership roles in corporate Australia is going backwards, according to the 2022 Chief Executive Women (CEW) Senior Executive Census, and at this rate it will take 100 years for women to make up at least 40% of all CEO positions on the ASX200. Now in its sixth...
The CEW Senior Executive Census is collected annually in partnership with Bain & Company, from data available on company websites and in annual reports. Data on the executive leadership teams for the companies in the CEW Senior Executive Census was collected in July 2022 from company websites, including Annual Reports and media releases. This methodology...
Having the desire to create more gender diversity in senior leadership ranks within your company is one thing, but putting practical measures in place to achieve this is something completely different. Often, the hardest part is knowing where to start. After speaking to 22 Australian companies who are leading the way when it comes to...
21 July 2022, 12AM: The three people tasked with leading scientific efforts for defence in the UK, US and Australia will meet in Sydney today, to discuss how to improve women’s representation in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) leadership roles: Australia’s Chief Defence Scientist Professor Tanya Monro AC, US Under Secretary of Defense for...
In the wake of Enough is Enough, the final report of Western Australia’s parliamentary inquiry into sexual harassment of women in the fly-in fly-out (FIFO) mining industry, Chief Executive Women (CEW) is urging all businesses and organisations across all sectors to access free resources it has developed to help stamp out harassment once and for...