The gender pay gap – the never-ending story?

Media releases

The gender pay gap is alive and well in Australia, and a lot more needs to be done to close it said Diversity Council Australia.

DCA’s CEO, Lisa Annese, said recent ABS statistics showing the national gender pay gap has dropped slightly to 17.9% from 18.3% in 2014 are hardly cause for celebration.

“The current gender pay gap means women are earning just over 82 cents for every dollar their male colleagues earn, down from an average of 85 cents, eleven years ago. It’s pretty depressing that we still find ourselves in this position in 2015.

“Pay inequity has many causes but we know discrimination and occupational and industry segregation are major contributors – and so too is the impact that bearing and raising children has on women's wages.

“Raising children accounts for a 17% loss in lifetime wages for women, with the kind of work many mothers undertaking not only being lower-paid than the work they did prior to having children, but also frequently not reflecting their abilities, education levels or work experience.

“This gap has significant flow on effects for women over their lifetime via their superannuation. The 2015 Westpac Women and Retirement Readiness Report found that there is a $145,000 gap between the median superannuation account balance of women and men. According to Westpac’s analysis, the average 60 year old Australian woman may need to work an extra 15 years to retire with the same superannuation balance as men!” said Lisa.

Equal Pay Day this year falls on Friday 4 September. This represents the extra 65 days that women, on average, would be required to work from the start of the financial year on 1 July to earn the same as men.

“The additional work women would have to do just to earn the same amount as men is pretty appalling, and is a stark reminder of the lack of progress to date. Frustratingly, a lot of organisations appear to be dragging their feet when it comes to investigating exactly what’s going on in their organisations – only one in four reporting to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency had conducted a gender pay gap analysis.

“This Equal Pay Day, we strongly encourage organisations to take action so we don’t have to mark this day year after year,” said Lisa.

The following are actions employers can take to address the gender pay gap:

  • Conducting a pay equity audit to investigate the causes of any identified gaps to determine what needs to be done to correct them
  • Reviewing wage setting and pay scales to ensure part-time workers are not disadvantaged compared to their full-time counterparts
  • Providing salary transparency where possible
  • Eliminating discrimination in all its forms
  • Putting in place performance evaluation and development criteria that are gender-neutral and do not disadvantage employees working flexibly
  • Designing jobs, workflows and careers that can encompass flexible working for both women and men to work flexibly
  • Supporting pregnant women and mothers to return to work and to continue to be valued members of the workforce with the same opportunities as their colleagues.