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Gender Pay Gap Closing, But ‘Too Slow’

16 November 2016 at 5:04 pm
Wendy Williams
The gender pay gap is closing but women are still undervalued in the workplace with men earning an average of 23 per cent more than women, according to the latest gender equality scorecard.

Wendy Williams | 16 November 2016 at 5:04 pm


Gender Pay Gap Closing, But ‘Too Slow’
16 November 2016 at 5:04 pm

The gender pay gap is closing but women are still undervalued in the workplace with men earning an average of 23 per cent more than women, according to the latest gender equality scorecard.

The report, launched by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency on Wednesday, revealed that while women make up half of the nation’s workforce they earn just 77 per cent of men’s average full-time income.

This translates to women in full-time work taking home $26,853 less than the average male employee in 2015-16, with the salary difference rising to $93,884 at the top level of management.

The new data, which covered more than 12,000 employers and four million employees, also highlighted that while the pipeline of women into manager roles was strengthening, five out of six CEOs were still men.

WGEA director Libby Lyons said the data highlighted persistent inequality, as well as progress.

“The data confirms gender pay gaps in favour of men in every industry and the under-representation of women in management and leadership roles,” Lyons said.

“At the same time, it shows employers are stepping up to the challenge in greater numbers with proactive gender equality policies. For the first time, more than 70 per cent of employers reported they have policies in place to support gender equality.

“There’s no question we are seeing movement in the right direction, but it’s still too slow.

“The agency will continue to work with employers to help them drive better workplace gender equality across their organisations.”

For the first time, the report, now in its third year, also tracked managerial appointments and promotions made over the year.

Lyons said 42.6 per cent of those appointed to managerial roles last year were women, and the figure is on the rise.

“So even though only 37.4 per cent of managers are currently women, we can expect that figure to trend up as more women rise through the ranks,” she said.

“Your boss today is still much more likely to be a man, but the data shows we are moving toward gender equality among managers.”

Overall the scorecard did show some encouraging signs with a continued downward trajectory of the gender pay gap, increased women’s representation in leadership and increased action from employers to address gender equality.

Data Snapshot

Other key figures in the scorecard (with percentage point movement since 2013-14) include:

  • Gender pay gap (full-time total remuneration): 23.1 per cent (down 1.6 pp)
  • Largest industry gender pay gap: financial and insurance services with 33.5 per cent (down 2.6 pp)
  • Industry segregation: 60.9 per cent of employees work in an industry dominated by one gender
  • ’Key management personnel who are women: 28.5 per cent (up 2.4 pp)
  • ’Employers with policies to support gender equality: 70.7 per cent (up 4.5 pp)
  • ’Employers who have conducted a gender pay gap analysis: 27 per cent (up 3 pp)
  • ’Appointments of women to manager roles: 42.6 per cent (new data point)
  • Women on boards: 24.7 per cent of board directors are women, 12.7 per cent of boards have a gender target.

Diversity Council Australia CEO Lisa Annese told Pro Bono Australia News the data showed “we still need to pick up our game.

“Every year we say women’s progress is too slow and whilst there has been a couple of improvements in some areas the rate of change is still very slow and women are still under-represented in leadership and the pay gap is still unacceptable,” Annese said.

“So whilst there is a little bit of improvement, which is good that it is moving in the right direction, we still need to pick up our game.”

Annese said it was encouraging that 70.7 per cent of employers had a gender equality policy or strategy in place.

“It is always a place to start and I think that if you don’t know where to start, working out what your thinking is and putting that in writing for the organisation to be aware of is the place to start,” she said.

“Policies aren’t set in stone, they continue to adapt and modify and change over time as people’s expectations change but actually making a statement about who you are as an organisation and where you want to be is really important.

“So more and more organisations having policies and statements around gender equity is really important and…it is a stepping stone on to the next step which is ok, ‘we know what we want to be and what we support, so how do we get there and what are our issues’.”

Annese said there were a lot of things that organisations could do to speed up progress.

“It is such a complex problem, we are trying to reverse a system of working that was invented before women were in the work equation, which never took into account the fact that women’s lives have been shaped differently because of caring responsibilities, so there has got to be a multitude of ways to tackle problems around gender inequality,” she said.

“Certainly accepting that it is an issue is a big start and for something like the pay gap, organisations can undertake an analysis of their pay gap within their organisation just to see how they compare to the national average and where in their organisation they have problems.

“I think in terms of leadership the clear answer to that is to have people who are champions of women’s success in leadership, to set targets, to challenge the status quo, to work on cultural change, to try and ensure a blueprint for leadership is not something that excludes women.

“So there is a whole range of areas that organisations can focus on, that over time can help make change in that area.”

Wendy Williams  |  Editor  |  @WendyAnWilliams

Wendy Williams is a journalist specialising in the not-for-profit sector and broader social economy. She has been the editor of Pro Bono News since 2018.

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