Nineteen per cent. That’s the current gender pay gap for full-time, adult earnings between men and women from 2014-2015, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. That number gets even larger when you factor in other types of employees such as part-time workers – 35.4 per cent.
That puts Australia behind the US, the UK and many other countries in Europe.
So what is causing this massive disparity in wages in Australia? More importantly, what can we do about it? Here’s the issue by the numbers as well as some ideas about how organisations can close the gap.
$300 AUD: The additional amount, per week, that men earn than women based on average weekly earnings for full-time workers
Differences in gender pay gaps across the states and territories can most likely be attributed to variations in the industry profiles of each one. Western Australia, which has a pay gap of 25.7 per cent, has a higher concentration of construction, mining and manufacturing jobs, whereas most of the Australian Capital Territory workforce is in public administration and has a pay gap of 11.7 per cent.
1 in 4: The number of organisations that conducted a gender pay gap analysis
Of those, one in two took action to address their gender pay gap. It’s easy to assume that gender pay gaps don’t exist in your workplace, but unless a company actively measures wages across all sectors, it’s hard to tell if there is a difference – just because employees are paid market rates or under an award system doesn’t automatically rule out a pay gap. Undertake a pay equity audit and review your wage setting and pay scales to ensure compensation is fair and consistent.
58.6 per cent: Female workplace participation
Statistically speaking, women are the majority in some industries that garner lower wages. Research has found that a significant portion of the gender pay gap is associated with being in female dominated work. So what can employers do to attract and retain female talent in traditionally male dominated workspaces?
The Australian Human Rights Commission has a few suggestions for businesses. First, start with attraction and recruitment. Think about how your job advertisements speak to women: Are there women featured prominently in recruiting materials? Are ads being placed where women are likely to see them? Also, provide candidates with the full range of career opportunities available, including career development, rewards (financial or non-financial) and flexible working arrangements.
It’s beneficial for businesses to understand unconscious biases within hiring practices. Depending on the requirements of the position, allow candidates to demonstrate their ability to fulfil the duties of the position – consider transferable skills and demonstrated competencies rather than exact wording or experiences.
68 per cent: Number of women with children aged 0-14 in the workforce
Women still undertake most of society’s unpaid caring work, and this can create barriers to career advancement and earning potential – both in the short term and long term. As of this time last year, the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) estimates that women would have to work an average of 66 extra days to earn the same total salary as a male working in her field.
Flexible working options are often the best way to retain women with young children. Working from home part- or full-time is only one component, though. Depending on the industry, there are ways for workers to be creative, yet productive, with how they complete work. Consider alternative ways to measure worker success other than the number of hours they work. Instead, focus on what the organisation needs, when it needs it by and create clear parameters for what is expected of returning mothers in each role.
10 per cent: Rate of women who described their occupation as ‘managerial’
One major cause of such a wide pay gap is the lack of women in senior positions and a lack of part-time or flexible senior roles. Visible and active executive commitment is one key factor in closing the pay gap. Another option is to become involved with the Workplace Gender Equality Agency as a Pay Equity Ambassador. This program encourages CEOs and senior executives to commit to stamping out gender bias in their organisations while publicly championing pay equity. So far, more than 60 CEOs have signed the pledge.