Is your organisation perpetuating the wage gap?

by HCA22 May 2012

Australia’s female professionals earn 17.4% less than their male colleagues, and despite awareness campaigns the gender pay gap has remained almost unchanged for two decades.

Based on new data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency (EOWA) has calculated the gender pay gap based on average weekly ordinary time earnings for men and women – women are short-changed $250.50 a week. The latest figures from the ABS also show:

  • The average weekly earnings of women working full-time were $1,186.90 per week compared to men, who earned an average weekly wage of $1,437.40 per week
  • Over the course of a year, this difference adds up to $13,026
  • WA has the largest gender pay gap at 25.8%, while the ACT has the lowest at 12.0%.
  • The gender pay gap was 17.6% in November 2011 and has consistently hovered around 15-18% over the last two decades.

“The lack of progress in closing the gender pay gap means the case for concerted action on pay equity is clear. It is intolerable to think that the career and financial prospects of a girl born today will be less than those of a boy,” Helen Conway, director of the EOWA said. “When we consider the impact of the gender pay gap on women’s superannuation, it is little wonder that women are two and a half times more likely to live in poverty in their old age than men,” Conway added.

While pay equity is a matter of fairness, EOWA has also noted broader economic imperatives, namely that the gender pay gap is a disincentive to women’s participation in the workforce. In a time of significant skills shortages and with productivity levels in decline, it makes good business sense and is in the national interest to eliminate any disincentive to full workforce participation.

Where to from here?

Organisations can start by doing a payroll analysis to determine if they have a gender pay gap. HR must address whether working flexibly in their organisation limits a person’s career and also examine whether their workplaces contain stereotypes and embedded bias in job design, evaluation and remuneration processes.

To read a questionnaire on your pay procedure: Related Story Time to lift the lid on employee salaries

Impending legislative reforms to the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act 1999 will strengthen the ability of EOWA to track and provide advice on the gender pay gap for organisations across industry sectors.


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