Today, August 31st 2018, marks National Equal Pay Day. So, what does the gender pay gap mean for you? We reflect on the factors that impact on gender pay gaps – and what’s happening globally to close those gaps.
What’s the national gender pay gap in Australia?
Recently the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) – using data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) – announced that our national gender pay gap is at 14.6 per cent. That’s the lowest it’s been in 20 years – so we must be doing something right, but it’s still not great. It’s a reminder that women in Australian workplaces are still facing significant barriers – especially when it comes to their pay.
The gender pay gap is calculated based on the average difference between women’s and men’s weekly earnings (on a full-time base salary), and it’s then listed as a percentage of men’s earnings. It’s important to note that this isn’t a comparison between roles, it’s a way of measuring how women sit overall in the paid workforce of Australia.
What causes gender pay gaps?
There are several reasons why a gender pay gap might exist. These factors could impact on the pay gap across different industries.
- A discrimination and unconscious bias may exist when it comes to hiring and pay decisions
- Industries with female-dominated professions might attract lower wages
- A disproportionate number of women to men might carry out unpaid carers and domestic roles
- Some workplaces don’t have flexible working arrangements in place to allow for women to still perform their domestic roles
- Bigger gaps outside of the workforce (e.g. taken for maternity leave) may leave women facing less career opportunities, especially when it comes to career progression.
What’s the effect of the gender pay gap over a lifetime?
The truth of this matter is that, over a lifetime of wage differences, together with other lifestyle factors such as time spent in between career steps and even unconscious bias, can lead to women retiring with significantly less superannuation savings and a higher risk of living in poverty.
That’s not to disregard the affects on women currently in their day-to-day on the workforce. And these aren’t just financial. It’s a complex combination of economic instability and impacts on their physical and mental health. It’s time that changed.
How is the world closing gender pay gaps?
Well it’s not all bad news. Let’s give it up for Belgium. With a pay gap of just 6.6 per cent, Belgium has one of the lowest national average gross hourly earning gender pay gaps in the world. In 2012, introduced legislation to introduce this pay gap even further. Now, all organisations must include the differences in men and women’s salaries in annual audits and reports. If there’s a disparity, they’re required to produce an action plan.
In June 2017, Iceland amended their Act on Equal Status and Equal Rights of Women and Men by introducing the Equal Pay Standard. This requires organisations with more than 25 employees to acquiring certification that proves they’re paying men and women equally.
The US is also giving gender equality more attention, with the introduction of their US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (Commission) producing an annual report that as of 2018, will require private sector employers with 100 or more employees to submit summary pay data.
And let’s not forget that Australian organisations care about their workers too. with the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, there’s someone in the women of Australia’s corner. Since 2012, when the Workplace Gender Equality Act was established, all non-public employers are required to report annually to the Agency on six gender equality indicators (find out more about these indicators here).
Get to work closing the gender pay gap with comprehensive training and policies
There’s things you can do right now to work together on this issue, like challenging unconscious bias and having comprehensive policies in place for recruitment and on boarding – this includes have flexible working arrangements in place and accommodating women who are returning to work.
Or why not conduct a pay gap analysis? Remember to communicate your organisation’s gender equality strategy or policy to your workers. Set some targets and work toward them together. Raising awareness through training is a great step in the right direction toward equality.
At Litmos, we’re not only adopting these practices ourselves, but we’re ready to help your organisation to grow too. With a diverse range of courses on Unconscious Bias, Ant-discrimination, Managing Fairly and Equitably, we’re all about promoting and enabling equality in the workplace.
Get in touch with us today on 1300 133 151, or sign up for an obligation-free trial – we’d love to hear from you.