Industry is doing more to improve gender equality

More businesses are embedding gender equality initiatives within their organisations. The recent 2016-2017 gender equality scorecard from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) shows a narrowing of the gender pay gap and increased efforts by businesses to drive greater gender equality.

In particular, the WGEA scorecard reveals that more employers are:

  • Conducting a pay equity analysis to identify and address issues of like-for-like pay disparity;
  • Introducing managerial KPIs related to gender equality;
  • Embracing flexible work through flexible work policies and strategies;
  • Adopting targeted policies and strategies to support gender equality in succession planning, talent identification, retention and promotions; and
  • Offering paid parental leave for secondary carers.

What is the national gender pay gap?

The national gender pay gap is the difference between women’s and men’s average weekly full-time base salary earnings, expressed as a percentage of men’s earnings. It is a measure of women’s overall position in the paid workforce and does not compare like roles.

At base salary level, it currently stands at $16,183 p.a. in favour of men or 17.3%. But when you factor total remuneration, including bonuses and other discretionary payments, the gap increases to $26,000 in favour of men, or 22.4%. While still high, the gap in both base salary and total remuneration is slowly narrowing.

Contributing to the gender pay gap is Australia’s gendered segregation by industry and occupation. A recent Senate Committee Inquiry found that six in 10 Australian employees worked in an industry dominated by one gender. According to KPMG, for every 10 per cent increase in the ratio of men to women in an industry, the average wage increases by 1.9%. Women are prevalent in the industries of health care & social assistance; education & training; and retail, while the industries of mining, construction and public administration & safety are still male dominated.

Despite this, the male dominated industries of manufacturing, construction, mining and utilities are continuing to narrow the gender pay gap, while the female-strong industries of retail, health care & social assistance and education & training saw a worsening of the gender pay gap, suggesting that employers in male dominated industries are more focused on gender equality.

At an occupational level, however, the gender pay gap remains highest for technicians and trades and key management personnel.

What Employers can do?

While gender segregation in industry and occupations influences pay outcomes for men and women, so too can unintentional remuneration practices within organisations – particularly with ‘like for like’ roles. More businesses are now taking action to identify and address pay inequity by conducting internal pay equity audits. A pay equity analysis tool kit is available free online at WGEA. Ai Group encourages all employers to make use of this tool kit to ensure their organisation can be confident it has fair remuneration practices.

Has your business conducted a gender pay gap analysis? Or have you implemented any initiatives to increase the participation of women, including in management positions? Share your thoughts and experiences below.

For more informationplease contact Nicola Street, National Manager – Workplace Relations Policy.

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As Ai Group's National Manager – Workplace Relations Policy, Nicola is involved in employment test cases and law reform affecting the workplaces of industry. She regularly appears in the Fair Work Commission and Government Inquiries on behalf of Ai Group members, and has many years of “on the ground” strategic experience in advising employers in employment law and people & culture strategies.

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