Three ways you can bridge the gender pay gap


The results are in and ladies, it's not pretty.

The Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) has revealed its national gender equality scorecard for 2015-2016, which includes employment statistics for more than 4 million Australian employees.

This year's total remuneration pay gap for all private sector employees is at 23%, or around $26,853.

The gap is the difference between the average male full-time earnings and average female full-time earnings.

All industries have a pay gap in favour of men, but fortunately the figures seem to be improving.

The base salary gender pay gap has actually decreased by 2% from 2013-2014.

So what can you do to bridge the gap?

1. Get the facts about your industry and organisation

The WGEA issued over 4600 reports and you can view most of them online. Each one provides data on the gender composition of the workforce and information on any gender equality policies and strategies that are in place.

Libby Lyons, director of WGEA, says it's imperative for women to seek information on gender equality standards within their workplace and industry.

"I think employees need to arm themselves with the facts. I think they need to visit our website and find out how their organisation is going," she says.

If you have any concerns about your organisation, Lyons suggests starting a conversation with your human resources officer.

"Start asking questions. Simple questions might prompt an organisation to start taking action. The more young people we get doing that the quicker we will start to see change."

The table below shows the industries with the five biggest pay gaps last financial year. The WGEA website has a free calculator for human resources professionals so talk to your human resources department about conducting a gender pay gap analysis.

Industry Total remuneration gender pay gap
Financial and insurances services 33.5%
Rental, hiring and real estate services 29.3%
Construction 28%
Professional, scientific and technical services 27.5%
Information media and telecommunications 23.5%

2. Become an A-grade negotiator

Asking for a pay rise or negotiating your starting salary requires confidence. If you think you have the potential to be earning more, the best way to go about it is to tackle the problem head on.

The Dream Collective, an educational organisation, runs an emerging leaders program to help young women network, develop business skills and become more confident.

Katrina Turner, NSW manager for The Dream Collective says some women might hold back from pay negotiations because they believe they might be perceived as over-ambitious.

"It's no secret that men and women can be perceived or judged differently during negotiations - especially pay rise negotiations - even if they are negotiating in a similar manner or style," she says.

Despite this, it's still worth trying your luck. The end result could be a bigger bonus, a pay rise or even a promotion. To prepare, Turner says it's important that you plan your case and do as much research on your organisation and industry as you can.

"I learnt it is absolutely vital to invest a lot of time upfront doing your research, and gather as much data and information as you can so that your negotiations are backed by facts and driven by a deep understanding of your and the other party's interests," Turner says.

3. Support flexible working arrangements

More men than women are employed full-time. While around 70% of men work full-time, almost 60% of women work on a part-time or casual contract, meaning lower wages and fewer entitlements.

According to WGEA data, 63% of organisations have a policy and/or strategy for flexible working arrangements, which is up slightly from 2014-2015. Flexible working conditions make it easier for women to go back to full-time roles after having children, and Lyons says it's important for fathers to realise they are also entitled to such arrangements.

"Encouraging men to work flexibly is a positive step for families and a very positive step for not only getting more women in the workforce but also more women into senior roles in a flexible capacity," she says.

A recent report by Bain & Co found that 27% of fathers and partners had reported experiencing discrimination related to parental leave and return to work.

The study also found that men were also twice as likely as women to have their request to work flexibly rejected.

Lyons says all employees should stick together in the workplace and vouch for one and another if people are being treated unfairly.

"If a man is asking for flexible work arrangements and is knocked back by a manager, then one of his colleagues should ask why. If there is no operational reason why somebody can't work flexibly, they shouldn't be denied it," she says.


Steph Nash was a staff writer at Money until 2017.
August 1, 2019 1.58pm

Which doesn't exist and has been proven to be a myth.

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