Five ways women can demand equal pay


Australian women are getting short-changed when it comes to their pay packets with the gap one of the widest in the OECD. Gender pay disparity is a violation of women's human rights and addressing it is crucial to promoting gender equality and social justice.

Now is the time for women to act and demand equal wages for equal work. Pay disparity between men and women perpetuates gender inequality, and addressing the gap can help to create a more equal society. It could also boost economic growth: equalising women's pay with men's would likely increase women's participation in the workforce and raise their earning power, contributing to overall economic growth.

So, what is the pay gap?

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The gender wage gap is defined as the difference between the median earnings of men and women relative to median earnings of men. According to the most recent data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the median wage for a man working full time was $1390.00 in May 2021 and just $1042.00 for women. That represents a wages gap of around 25% between men and women. The gap between male and female wages in Australia is much wider than in many other OECD countries, including NZ, UK, Germany, Italy and France.

Here are five tips for women demanding pay parity from their employers. When employers pay less to women than men, they are sending the signal that women are less valuable than men in the workplace. This needs to be corrected.

1. Be confident and assert your rights

Women should feel comfortable demanding pay equality from their employers. It is a basic right to receive equal pay for equal work. So, practice speaking up and your employer will be compelled to listen. If you are prepared to walk out the door if you don't get equal pay, then let your boss know.

Women have been silent for too long and it is only by demanding gender pay parity that it will be achieved; the chances of getting what you ask for are even greater in this tight jobs market, where employers are having a lot of problems filling vacancies.

2. Demand pay transparency

It's a long-held tradition not to discuss your pay packet with other workers - but the time for secrecy has passed. Pay transparency is gaining momentum in countries to overcome the gender wage gap as it reveals what everyone earns for the job they do; inequalities are easily exposed.

Pay transparency measures are viewed as particularly important for addressing the traits that can't be attributed to observable individual worker characteristics like skill levels and education.

3. Outline your value to your employer

You need to show your employer that you are adding value to the organisation.

To back your request for gender pay equality, you should research comparable salaries being paid for similar roles in the jobs market. Speak to a recruitment consultant and gather data. If you're paid much less than the market, which includes men's salaries, that's not fair practice and it could point to a gender wages gap.  That's powerful evidence to present to your employer when asking for a pay rise and demanding pay equality.

4. Ask for a wage audit

There is some good news in that large employers are compelled to conduct wage audits.

Under federal law, the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012, large employers (non-public sector employers with 100 or more employees in their corporate structure) and registered higher education providers have to report to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) annually on a set of gender equality indicators.

However, this law doesn't extend to smaller employers. So, if your employer does not conduct a wage audit, ask your HR department to conduct one.

The more pressure women apply to their employers to conduct a wages audit, the more likely they will do so. A gender pay audit and pay equity action plan are key features of best practice talent management and upholding fairness in the workplace.

5. Keep on demanding pay equality

Given the gender pay gap is so wide, and women make up around 50% of the workforce, it would hurt employers' bottom lines to equalise pay packets. So they may not want to narrow the wages gap just yet. The gap has been around for a long time and it reflects long-held biases in workplace cultures and recruitment practices.

If you don't get pay equality this time, ask in six months' time; it is only by asserting your rights for equal work, equal pay that the gender wages gap will close.

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Kris Grant is CEO of ASPL Group, a management consultancy, training and recruitment firm. She has a passion for inclusion in the workplace. Kris holds a Bachelor of Business from RMIT.
Mike Richards
March 8, 2023 6.45pm

This is a myth and has been debunked many times. Women APPEAR to be paid less than men because they're in different types of jobs to men (e.g. childcare or retail versus mining and engineering) that often don't require the same set of skills, don't require as much experience, need less sophisticated skillsets, or less time commitments. Oh, and the jobs they do are much safer ones too. Most workplace accident deaths and injuries ? Men.

If you want equal pay, join the public sector or a unionised job on an award agreement, where everyone gets the same wage at the same classification level.