Australia’s pay gap leaves woman earning 87 cents to the ‘dollar’
Australia’s pay gap leaves woman earning 87 cents to the ‘dollar’

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Australia’s pay gap leaves woman earning 87 cents to the ‘dollar’
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On August 25, 2023, the spotlight was on Equal Pay Day, an important occasion shedding light on the persistent gap between men’s and women’s average weekly full-time earnings. Here, let’s uncover some eye-opening facts:

  1. Currently, women have to put in an extra 56 days of work to pocket the same average pay as their male counterparts.
  2. Women, on average, earn 87 cents for every dollar earned by men.
  3. Full-time women across all industries and occupations face an average weekly earnings deficit of $253.50 compared to men.
  4. As of February 2024, the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) pointed out that the gender pay gap has reached 19 per cent.

Although strides have been made in narrowing the gender pay gap, the WGEA has emphasised the disproportional impact this gap has on Australian women, underlining the pressing need for further action.

One contributing factor to this disparity is the underrepresentation of women in leadership positions. Currently, women hold only 19.4 per cent of CEO roles and 32.5 per cent of key management positions. While recent data from the Australian Institute of Company indicates that women now make up 40 per cent of directors in ASX 200 listed companies, there’s still ample room for improvement in these numbers.

In this blog post, we’re diving into some widespread misconceptions about the gender pay gap, offering an insight into the WGEA’s role, and exploring how this agency is actively working to bridge the divide.

What is the Workforce Gender Equality Agency?

The Workforce Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) is an Australian statutory agency that promotes and improves workplace gender equality and administers the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012.

Businesses over 100 people now have to submit reports to WGEA on an annual basis.

What is ‘pay gap’?

There’s a common misunderstanding surrounding the term ‘pay gap’ that often leads to confusion. Many people tend to associate it with the notion of two individuals being compensated differently for performing similar work. However, this notion more accurately aligns with the concept of equal pay, which advocates for fair compensation regardless of gender for work of similar value or nature.

On the other hand, the gender pay gap represents the disparity in average earnings between men and women in the workforce. It serves as a globally recognised metric for assessing women’s economic standing relative to men. This gap, shaped by various social and economic factors, ultimately diminishes women’s earning potential throughout their careers. Tackling the gender pay gap necessitates more than ensuring equal pay; it demands a shift in culture to eliminate the obstacles hindering women from fully and equally participating in the workforce.

What causes the gender pay gap?

The WGEA reports that the gender pay gap is influenced by several factors:

  • In the realm of hiring and salary determinations, both conscious and unconscious biases often come into play, leading to discriminatory practices.
  • Differences in wages can also be observed across various industries and job types, with those that are predominantly female-oriented often receiving lower compensation.
  • Flexibility in the workplace remains a key challenge, particularly for women in higher-ranking positions, as the need to balance caregiving and other responsibilities often goes unaddressed.
  • Furthermore, the prevalence of part-time work among women contributes to the overall income disparity.
  • Moreover, the time spent by women fulfilling caregiving obligations directly impacts their career progression and professional opportunities.
  • In addition, the bulk of unpaid caregiving and domestic work continues to disproportionately burden women, perpetuating existing gender inequalities.

How can we close the gap? 

In the pursuit of narrowing the gender pay gap, businesses must prioritise strategies that foster workplace gender equality. One of the significant hindrances to women’s full participation in the workforce is the unequal burden of childcare, domestic responsibilities, and emotional labour, as highlighted earlier.

To counter this disparity, what actionable measures can businesses take? Recent trends indicate a significant shift towards embracing flexible working arrangements, with some companies even adopting this model as a permanent fixture. Introducing a flexible work culture can provide crucial support for women, fostering a more inclusive environment and serving as a positive step in the direction of reducing the gender pay gap.

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According to the projections from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), the gender pay gap may potentially close by the 2040s. How can your workplace accelerate this progress? Consider implementing changes that promote equality and support the professional advancement of all employees. The best place to start is by introducing policies and strategies.

What it isWhat it includesWhat it is not

PolicyThe guidelines, rules and procedures developed by an organisation to govern its actions (often in recurring situations).
– They define the limits (do’s and don’ts) within which decisions must be made.
– They are widely communicated and available and accessible to all staff.
Policies include applying gender equality principles and practices to:
– recruitment
– retention
– performance management
– promotions
– identification of talent and high potentials
– succession planning
– training and development
– resignations
– key performance indicators (KPIs) for managers
– remuneration.
An informal:
– description of the way an organisation operates
– undocumented process.

Set of best practices or tips for improvement.
StrategyA plan of action designed to achieve one or more of the organisation’s objectives. A strategy fills the gap between “where we are” and “where we want to be”, that is, “how are we going to get there?”

It relates to how an organisation allocates and uses materials and human resources and requires an executive approval.
Strategies generally include:
– a vision or mission
– values or principles
– strategic objectives
– specific actions
– approaches, methods or enablers
– risk and success factors
– measures or milestones.
A business case

A SWOT analysis.
Formal policy or strategyA written document approved by human resources or management. A strategy can exist without a policy and a policy without a strategy. But both can coexist and support each other.It may be:
– a standalone policy or strategy on gender equality
– included in your broader diversity and inclusion strategy or policy.
An email to all staff explaining an intent or other informal communication.

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