The gender pay gap is still a significant workplace issue in Australia and globally. Here, we’ll unpack what the gender pay gap is and the steps you can take to implement change in your workplace.
The Australian Government defines the gender pay gap as the gap in average income between men and women. Closing the pay gap is a structural issue. This means your organisation needs to go beyond achieving equal pay to look at the obstacles that keep women from participating in the workplace.
There are two types of pay gap:
This kind of pay gap occurs when a man and a woman hold the same job but are paid different amounts, with the male employee likely paid more than their female counterpart. It commonly happens in traditionally male dominated professions or roles.
Typically, you might see men being recruited and paid more because they’re deemed to have more experience or they’ve worked at the organisation for a long time and have reached the top of the pay scale. Given that women may have had less opportunities to succeed in these roles – perhaps because the occupation wasn’t open to them or they’ve taken time away from the workplace for caring responsibilities – the like-for-like pay gap is an equity issue. If they’re doing exactly the same job, men and women should be paid equally for their labour.
This is a pay gap that exists across your whole organisation. It may be created in organisations where women are largely in junior positions that attract lower pay, such as administrative roles, and men are in leadership roles at a higher pay scale.
It’s more about lack of representation across the business, rather than equal pay. If women are more likely to be recruited into administration and men are more likely to be recruited into leadership positions, your organisation will have a gender pay gap. Consider how your workplace recruits new staff and how it avoids gender segregation across different positions.
A detailed pay gap analysis looks at more than your organisation’s pay gap, it considers pay gaps in a like-for-like approach by considering pay at a department and position level. If you come across gaps that are above 4%, you’ll need to investigate the cause of the wage gap. A gap might occur because of:
If your organisation needs support to conduct a detailed gender pay gap analysis, Bree Gorman can help. Get in touch with us today.
Though it can be difficult to get the right kinds of data, it’s crucial to take an intersectional approach to the gender pay gap. If your organisation only considers gender, it may create change for white, straight, able-bodied women, but that doesn’t lead to better working conditions for all women.
Consider the pay gaps affecting people with a disability, gender diverse people and women from non-western backgrounds. For guidance, you could look to the Victorian Government’s Gender Equality Strategy, which shows the change that is possible.
After you’ve done the work of identifying and understanding wage gaps in your organisation, you need to take action to resolve them – a pay gap won’t naturally resolve itself over time. It’s crucial to eliminate pay gaps as quickly as possible and to put measures in place that make equitable pay sustainable and ongoing.
I’ve seen organisations identify pay gaps and provide one-off pay rises to women in a department or across the business to address a wage gap. Consider the reasons a wage gap might occur over time. For example, has an employee returned from parental leave without their pay rate being increased over their absence, or do you notice that your male staff are more comfortable negotiating their pay or bonuses? It may even be appropriate to remove subjective pay increases and bonuses.
To be accountable for the actions you’ve determined, you need to report in detail regularly – every six to twelve months – on your workplace’s pay equity progress. This information should be provided to the highest level of governance in your organisation and be made available publicly. It’s also important to reflect on your actions. Include a summary in the report that provides the current pay gaps, demonstrates where they have changed and the steps that will be taken to move forward and address remaining gaps.
Although the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) requires an organisation to make this information public, there’s value in you doing this unprompted. Not only does it show commitment to addressing the gender pay gap – your good work will support your business to recruit more diverse staff.
The gender pay gap should form part of your business’s Diversity and Inclusion strategy, but it can’t be stand-alone work. It needs to be considered in the broader context of workplace inequity so it doesn’t just become a distraction from the more important, structural work that needs to be done to remove the barriers to women participating at work. For example, as I’ve mentioned above, a lack of representation is one of the leading causes of the gender pay gap. So, you might include steps to change gendered representation in your action plan.
For extra support, Bree Gorman can help. We offer coaching with our Managing Director Bree Gorman, who will provide advice around completing a gender pay gap analysis and guide you to the other actions your organisation should take to reduce its wage gap. Or, for more information, book a complimentary 20-minute phone call with us to discuss your gender pay gap analysis and action plan.
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