Tuesday 3 September 2013 marks ‘Equal Pay Day’, a symbolic reminder of the additional 64 days from 1 July that the average woman has to work to earn what the average man took home the previous financial year.
The Equal Pay Day calculation is based on the current national gender pay gap – 17.5%¹ which equates to the average full-time woman earning $266.20 less each week than the average full-time working man. That’s a difference of $13,842.40 per year.
While in a small number of cases women do get paid less than men for doing the same job, the primary reason why women earn less than men, is the under-representation of women in management and their over-representation in lower-paid roles.
Helen Conway, Director of the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), said the uneven spread of women and men across industries also plays a part.
“Workers in female-dominated industries tend to receive lower wages than those in male-dominated industries such as mining.”
The female-dominated health care and social assistance industry has the highest gender pay gap (32.3%, up from 31.3% in May 2012), followed by finance and insurance (31.4% down from 32.7%) and professional, scientific and technical services (30.1% up 3 percentage points from 27.1%).
From next year, non-public sector employers with 100 or more staff will be required by legislation to report on remuneration data broken down by gender, the existence of any remuneration policy or strategy, whether such a policy or strategy includes specific gender pay equity objectives whether a gender remuneration gap analysis has been undertaken, and, if so, when it was undertaken, and what actions were taken as a result. This will give employers useful data to assist them identify whether they have a gender pay gap. WGEA will use this data to create educational benchmarks so employers can assess how they compare to their peers and pinpoint areas for improvement.
“If employers committed to addressing the gender pay gap at an occupational and organisational level, we could expect to see some reduction in the national gender pay gap which would result in greater economic security for women during their working lives and in retirement,” Ms Conway said.
“Employers will benefit by attracting and retaining talented staff, reducing their turnover and accessing a larger pool of talent,” Ms Conway said.
The Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) is calling on employers to help close the pay gap.
What can employers do?
- Undertake a payroll analysis to identify and eliminate any occupational gender pay gap (i.e. between women and men doing the same or similar jobs) and set goals for decreasing any organisational gender pay gap (which may be a result of a lack of women in senior roles).
- Examine whether HR processes, including those around recruitment, performance assessment and recognition, lead to unequal outcomes between genders: e.g. are men more likely to be awarded bonuses or pay increases than women.
- Increase the promotion of women in to senior roles.
- Eliminate gender bias in job evaluation to ensure that female-dominated roles are rewarded on the same basis as male-dominated roles requiring similar skills.
- Provide transparency in relation to wage brackets/salary bands.
- Create a gender inclusive workplace culture at all levels of the organisation.
- In male dominated industries, work with industry associations and educational institutions to source highly-skilled women and ensure women know the variety of career options that are available to them from an early age.
- Respond to the growing demand for more flexible work by enabling employees – women and men – to access flexible working arrangements.
1. Calculated using average weekly full-time, ordinary time earnings data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, released on 15 August 2013 (Cat. No. 6302.0).