Addressing the gender pay gap

Addressing the Gender Pay Gap

Recent figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that women earn an average of 17 per cent less than working men per week, which equates to around $262.50 per week. While the gap has decreased slightly since the last figures were released in August 2013 when the difference was 17.5 per cent it is still a persistent problem which should be of concern to business.

According to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), Australia’s national pay gap has ranged from a low of 15 per cent to a high of 18 per cent for the last two decades. The WGEA says this is due to a variety of factors including industrial and occupational segregation, a lack of women in leadership, the fact that women do most of society’s unpaid caring, a lack of senior part-time and flexible roles and direct or indirect discrimination.

Director of the WGEA Helen Conway says the pay gap is concerning and frustrating.

“Sadly, there is a pay gap in favour of men in every single industry and some of the highest gender pay gaps are found in female dominated industries including health care and social assistance and finance and insurance services,” said Ms Conway.

However, Ms Conway said this is some evidence to show that employers are taking measures to ensure they pay staff fairly.

A WGEA survey of 2594 people conducted in 2013 showed that one third of respondents said they had conducted a gender pay gap analysis and a quarter of organisations had undertaken an analysis in the previous 12 months. In addition, one in two organisations said they had plans to conduct a gender pay gap analysis in the coming 12 months.

Ms Conway said that it is fair to assume most employers don’t set out to discriminate between men and women but many organisations simply don’t realise they have a gender pay gap.

“I say to organisations who think pay equity isn’t an issue for them, ‘how do you know?’ Unless you’ve analysed your payroll data, any assertion that you don’t have a problem is uninformed,” said Ms Conway.

What can employers do to address the gender pay gap?

Employers seeking to proactively tackle the gender pay gap should consider the following strategies proposed by the WGEA.

Understand the issues it is important to understand what the gender pay gap is all about, what the implications of the pay gap are, why it is a problem worth addressing and what benefits you can expect from maintaining a more equal pay system.

Undertake a payroll analysis to identify and eliminate any occupational gender pay gap (i.e. between women and men doing the same or similar jobs) and set goals for decreasing any organisational gender pay gap (which may be a result of a lack of women in senior roles). Payroll analysis should happen on a regular basis as results may change.

Improve accountability once you have established an equal pay policy, you need to ensure its effective implementation through management accountability. This could include monitoring the policy, ensuring implementation by the board or governing body and linking the achievement of pay equity to the KPIs of CEOs and managers.

Examine HR processes including those around recruitment, performance assessment and recognition, to determine whether they lead to unequal outcomes between genders e.g. are men more likely to be awarded bonuses or pay increases than women?

Increase the promotion of women in to senior roles

Eliminate gender bias in job evaluation to ensure that female-dominated roles are rewarded on the same basis as male-dominated roles requiring similar skills.

Provide transparency in relation to wage brackets/salary bands

Create a gender inclusive workplace culture at all levels of the organisation. In male dominated industries, work with industry associations and educational institutions to source highly-skilled women and ensure women know the variety of career options that are available to them from an early age.

Offer flexible work responding to the growing demand for flexible work opportunities for both men and women will improve the equitability of your workplace.

For more information and tools on how to identify and address the gender pay gap visit the Workplace Gender Equality Authority.



1. Australian Bureau of Statistics



 This Better Workplace Bulletin was First Published in April 2014