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Employers Ignoring Gender Pay Gap

6 October 2014 at 9:55 am
Lina Caneva
Almost three quarters of Australian employers have not taken steps to ensure they pay women and men fairly, according to data released by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency.

Lina Caneva | 6 October 2014 at 9:55 am


Employers Ignoring Gender Pay Gap
6 October 2014 at 9:55 am

Almost three quarters of Australian employers have not taken steps to ensure they pay women and men fairly, according to data released by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency.

Of those organisations that have not done a gender pay gap analysis, the most common reasons were because pay is set by awards or industrial agreements, or because they pay ‘market rates’.

Director of the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) Helen Conway said the data highlights a widespread lack of awareness of how gender bias can creep into performance and pay decisions where any discretion in pay and performance assessments exists.

“Most leaders genuinely believe they pay people in their organisation fairly, but without examining their payroll data they simply don’t have the evidence to back that up,” Conway said.

“Employers who analyse their data tell us they always find instances of pay gaps that can’t be explained or justified, at least the first time the analysis is conducted, and so they take corrective action to fix imbalances and develop action plans to address the root causes.

The WGEA recently launched a campaign to raise awareness and understanding of the importance of pay equity in workplaces.

As part of the campaign, the Agency has developed a website,, that enables employees to see for themselves whether their organisation has undertaken a gender pay gap analysis and, if so, what actions have been taken as a result.

Thirty-two chief executives from businesses across Australia and in a range of industries have signed up as ambassadors to lend their voice to this issue and urge all business leaders to make pay equity a priority.

“The leaders who are doing this work know they can’t attract and retain the best people and drive workplace productivity if there’s any unfairness or perception of unfairness in their workplaces. It just makes business sense,” Conway said.

Pip Marlow, Managing Director of Microsoft threw her support behind the campaign.

“A country’s national competitiveness is largely defined by its workforce so it makes no sense, especially for a country with Australia’s small population, to limit or constrain the contribution of over 50 per cent of its people,” Marlow said.

“Just as in business, we need to attract the best talent and retain the best talent so there is no room for gender bias in remuneration and performance management decisions. I call on all business leaders to commit to eliminating gender bias – it’s just good business.”

The WGEA has developed a suite of practical resources, including a new simplified gender pay gap calculator, freely available on the Agency’s website to help employers address pay equity.

Organisations in the finance and insurance services sector were the most likely to have undertaken a gender pay gap analysis (51.16 per cent), followed by public administration and safety (46.2 per cent) and mining (44.8 per cent).

Organisations in the education and training (10.14 per cent), accommodation and food services (11.35 per cent) and healthcare and social assistance (11.59 pe cent) industries were the least likely to have undertaken a gender pay gap analysis. These industries comprise three of the four most female-dominated industries.

Of those organisations that did conduct a gender pay gap analysis, around one third (31.0 per cent) hadn’t taken action to address the gender pay gaps identified.

Lina Caneva  |  Editor  |  @ProBonoNews

Lina Caneva has been a journalist for more than 35 years. She was the editor of Pro Bono Australia News from when it was founded in 2000 until 2018.

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