Australian employers are on autopilot when it comes to improving gender equality, says agency head
New statistics have exposed ‘disappointing’ failures by Australian employers to minimise the country's gender pay gap.
Research by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency found a 6.1% decline in the number of employers taking action on pay equity.
Only 54.4% of employers who did a gender pay gap analysis took action to close the identified gaps.
The agency’s director Libby Lyons said even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, she had been concerned about the lack of change within businesses and warned employers were becoming complacent.
She said: “The modest rate of change in last year’s results suggested they were in the grip of ‘gender equality fatigue’.
“I’m now very disappointed that almost nothing has changed this year.
“It appears to me that Australian employers are on autopilot when it comes to improving gender equality. The issue is clearly not receiving the necessary attention to drive further change.”
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The research found women continue to dominate the more insecure part-time and casual roles.
The pandemic has only worsened Australia’s already troubling pay situation, with the job losses in the tourism, retail and hospitality sectors impacting more women than men.
There has been a small improvement in the gender pay gap itself but Lyons said without far more significant action by employers, those gains will disappear over the next year.
“This trend must not continue,” Lyons said. “Experience tells us that when employers measure their data, identify the problem areas and take action to address them, the pay gap closes.
“Our data also revealed further concerns. I always welcome an increase in the number of female CEOs and board directors but we are still decades away from achieving gender balance at the top levels of leadership. Progress on this issue remains glacial.”
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As businesses across Australia look to recovery next year, Lyons said advancing pay equity must not be forgotten.
The research found a positive improvement around access to flexible work and over 50% of employers now offer paid primary carer’s leave.