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Gender Pay Gap Sees Women Earning $26,000 Less a Year

17 November 2017 at 4:06 pm
Luke Michael
New data shows that the gender pay gap in Australia is trending down, but women on average still earn more than $26,000 a year less than men, and hold just 16.5 per cent of CEO roles.         

Luke Michael | 17 November 2017 at 4:06 pm


Gender Pay Gap Sees Women Earning $26,000 Less a Year
17 November 2017 at 4:06 pm

New data shows that the gender pay gap in Australia is trending down, but women on average still earn more than $26,000 a year less than men, and hold just 16.5 per cent of CEO roles.                 

This is according to Australia’s latest gender equality scorecard released on Friday by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA).  

WGEA does not compare like-for-like roles, but measures the gender pay gap as the difference between the average male full-time earnings and average female full-time earnings expressed as a percentage of male earnings.

Their report used 2016-17 workplace data to show that women earn on average just 78 per cent of men’s full-time earnings, a $26,527 a year discrepancy. This rises to an $89,216 discrepancy at the top level of management.

But the report did find that more organisations were taking action to address this pay disparity.

“More than half of organisations (55.7 per cent) reported taking action on the results of their pay gap analysis. While this proportion is consistent with 2015-16, the strong growth in organisations conducting a pay gap analysis means a greater number of organisations are taking action overall,” the report said.

“The most common actions following a pay gap analysis were identifying the cause/s of the gap (32.3 per cent); reporting pay equity metrics to the executive (25.6 per cent) and reviewing remuneration decision-making processes (24.4 per cent).”

While women hold just 16.5 per cent of CEO roles and 29.7 per cent of key management personnel roles, WGEA said more women were being appointed to manager positions.

“The rate at which women are being promoted and appointed to manager roles has increased since last year and is proportionately higher than the rate of women’s current representation in management,” the report said.

“In 2016-17, 43.4 per cent of appointments to manager roles (including promotions) were women, up from 42.6 per cent in 2015-16. As women currently only hold 38.4 per cent of manager roles, this suggests the proportion of women in management will continue to grow.”

Women’s management representation is greatest in health care and social assistance, with women making up 70.3 per cent of management roles in this industry. This is in stark contrast to the construction industry, which has women in only 12.3 per cent of management roles.

The data also found that fewer than half of employers offered additional paid parental leave beyond the government scheme, and women were seven times more likely than men to leave their workplace during parental leave.

In better news, more employers included a formal policy or at least a strategy to support employees experiencing domestic violence, up 3.8 per cent to 43.1 per cent.

WGEA director Libby Lyons said the dataset – which covered more than four million employees and 11,000 employers – showed strong improvement in employer awareness but also that the pace of change was too slow.

“In Australia today, men still out earn women in every industry and across all occupations,” Lyons said.

“This is not about women’s choices –  whether you are a manager, a scientist, a butcher, a baker or even a TV presenter, there is a gender pay gap favouring men.

“The sharp increases in employer action show that the momentum for improved gender equality is building. I am very encouraged that many more employers are now analysing their pay data for gender pay gaps and hopeful this will flow through to improved pay outcomes for women in the years ahead.”

Lyons added that further improvements were necessary to effect real change.   

“Other positive developments include an increase in managers having KPIs related to gender equality and more women being appointed to manager roles,” she said.

“Unfortunately, the number of women on company boards remains static and too few organisations are reporting their gender metrics up to the board. We need to see some real change. Boards must take more accountability for gender equality.”

These findings come just months after Diversity Council Australia (DCA) research found culturally diverse women faced additional barriers in the workforce, and were being locked out of leadership positions.

Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

Luke Michael is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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