City of Sydney announces new gender equality initiative

by HRD01 Dec 2018

The City of Sydney will soon start paying superannuation for up to 52 weeks for staff on parental leave – up from 18 weeks.

The new policy is outlined in a Lord Mayoral Minute about the City’s gender pay gap which has been endorsed by Council.

The Lord Mayor said the Minute showed that the City continues to be a national leader on gender pay equity.

“The City of Sydney is the first local government organisation to monitor and publicly report on gender pay equity,” said Lord Mayor Moore.

“Our latest review revealed an overall gender pay gap of 7.5% in favour of women – meaning on average we have more women employed in higher paying jobs, organisation-wide.

“When men and women are compared in equivalent roles, there was a gender pay gap of 1.7% in favour of men, which is an improvement of 1.1% on last year’s result and brings the City closer to pay parity.”

The gap is significantly lower than the national average of 14.6%.

“Achieving gender equity is a critical issue, not just because it is the right thing to do, but also because it’s linked to improved national productivity and economic growth,” said Lord Mayor Moore.

“But while important gains have been made around the world, no country has yet achieved full equality for women. In fact, the World Economic Forum predicts if we continue to move at the same pace, it will take 217 years to reach gender equality in the workplace globally – or at least five more generations. So we need change to happen faster.

Lord Mayor Moore said that’s the reason why the City have made it a priority to look at what else they can do to close the gender pay gap, starting with the gap between men’s and women’s superannuation.

“It’s unfair that women are penalised by lower superannuation benefits when they retire because they take time out to look after children,” she said.

“It’s why we’re addressing the gap as a way for the City to continue attracting and retaining talented women who plan to have children during their career and to help address the economic inequities women face.”

City of Sydney CEO and Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) pay equity ambassador Monica Barone said on average by the time of retirement, a women accumulates half the superannuation of her male counterpart.

“This is in part because women are more likely to take extended leave to raise and care for children, including paid and unpaid parental leave,” said Barone.

“Following in the footsteps of other leading organisations, we are extending parental leave benefits for superannuation to ensure women who take extended leave to have children are not financially disadvantaged.

“This new benefit will match the best offers made by both public and private organisations across Australia.

“It’s part of our ongoing efforts to improve workplace flexibility, offer enhanced leadership opportunities for staff across the organisation, and build our management capability to lead a diverse and inclusive workplace.”

Only around 10% of organisations pay superannuation during unpaid parental leave periods, according to a Diversity Council of Australia survey of its members.

Under the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012, non-public sector organisations with over 100 employees must report annually against a number of gender equality indicators, including remuneration.

Even though councils are not required to report, the City started monitoring and reporting publicly on gender pay equity in 2015–16. The City’s reporting is reviewed by independent firm Mercer Consulting.

The City’s gender pay equity review is guided by the WGEA’s reporting framework for private sector organisations.

City of Sydney staff can currently access 52 weeks of parental leave – 18 weeks on full pay (or 36 weeks at half pay) and 34 weeks of unpaid leave.

According to the WGEA, Australia’s national gender pay gap is currently 14.6%. For public sector organisations, the gap is 10.5%, and for private sector organisations it is 18.4%.

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