How HR managers are closing the gender pay gap

by HCA25 Jan 2017
Despite women making up half of the nation’s workforce, they only earn 77% of men’s average full-time income, according to latest gender equality scorecard by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency.

The Westpac 2016 Women of Influence Report also found that women in senior management were the most likely to believe they have experienced a gender-based salary differential (29%) compared to 8% of entry level positions, 11% of mid-senior level employees, 21% of mid-level management, and 7% of self-employed/business owners. 

The Fair Work Act 2009 has restrictions in place on private sector employees’ rights to disclose much information about an employee’s pay with other staff.

With the primary method for setting pay in corporate Australia being individual agreements, there is a trend of ‘salary secrecy’ whereby salary level discrepancies can arise among male and female employees.

In fact, 89% of Australian HR managers acknowledge a difference in salaries across genders in their company and 97% are taking measures to close this gap, according to new research by Robert Half.

Nicole Gorton, Director, Robert Half Australia said that today’s female professionals have more opportunities available to them, however, the pay disparity continues which highlights the need for companies to take action.

“Pay transparency will put the onus on employers to have to justify pay decisions,” she said.

“It is encouraging to see Australian companies actively aiming toward closing the gender salary gap, which not only promotes ethical business practices, but it can also lead to higher productivity within organisations as competitive and fair remuneration policies tend to lead to higher performing staff.”

Furthermore, Australian organisations are actively taking measures to address and close the gender pay gap.

Thirty-one per cent of HR managers are implementing pay transparency, while 28% are undertaking salary audits.

A similar proportion (27%) are currently monitoring promotions and pay rises. Encouragingly, only 3% say they are taking no measures at all.

When asked what additional measures their company would need to take to further close the gap, more than one in three (36%) HR managers cite a system where promotions are linked to fixed pay rises.

“Having a diverse talent pool within an organisation is crucial, particularly with the apparent skills shortage in several industries," said Gorton.

“In light of this, businesses need to offer competitive salary packages to attract and retain top performing candidates, whether male or female. Promotions should also be awarded to the most competent contender who embodies the required skill set and business acumen that will benefit the company.

“This approach needs to be part of an encompassing process where employers reward their staff fairly and evenly on the basis of their experience and contribution to the company, factors that completely disregard gender.”

Related stories:

Majority of female staff have experienced gender-related inequality

Australian gender pay gap narrows

Why pay transparency is good for business
 

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