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8 steps to helping close the gender pay gap for next International Women's Day

Pascale Helyar-MorayPascale Helyar-MorayPascale Helyar-Moray OAMMar 05, 2024
celebrating international Womens day 2024celebrating international Womens day 2024

International Women's Day is celebrated on the 8th of March every year to honour the contributions of women in various fields and to raise awareness of the unique challenges women face. This day provides an opportunity to celebrate women's achievements and encourage gender equality. This year's theme, "Count Her In: Invest in Women. Accelerate Progress." emphasises the importance of gender equality, women’s and girls’ empowerment, and their rights to healthier lives. It is a call to action for everyone to take responsibility for creating an inclusive world. Women have come a long way in terms of achieving equality, but there is still a lot to be done.

Latest stats on the gender pay gap

One of the biggest challenges faced by women in the workforce is the gender pay gap. A recent report released in February 2024 by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) reveals that the median pay gap for base salaries at businesses with 100-plus employees was 14.5%. This is on salary only. If we include overtime and bonuses, the total pay gap is larger. The difference in average weekly earnings between men and women – shows that there has been steady progress in reducing pay disparities over the past decade. Yet, women still continue to earn less than men. This data is the latest addition to a suite of gender pay gap measures published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), including:

  • The gap stood at 12% in November 2023, down from 18% in 2014. However, this measure only looks at full-time earnings, and since women are more likely than men to work part-time, the gap is as large as 27% when all earnings are included.
  • The average male earns $1673 per week, while the average female earns $1204.
  • Women tend to work in lower-paid industries and are more likely to work part-time, which explains why they are disproportionately likely to report lower earnings.
  • Of the 658,000 people earning $800 to $1000 per week, about 62% are women. By contrast, women comprise just 28% of the cohort of 537,000 workers taking home more than $3500 per week.
  • The male-dominated construction industry had the largest gender pay gap, with men earning 31.8% more than women after including overtime, superannuation, and bonuses.
  • The next most unequal professions were white-collar professions, including professional services, finance, IT, and media, with men earning 24-26% more than women.

Largely government-funded industries, including public administration, education, and healthcare, had some of the lowest gender pay gaps.

What specific measures can employers take towards closing the gender pay gap?

The specific measures that employers can take towards closing the gender pay gap include:

1. Conducting a gender pay gap analysis to identify the pay gaps that exist within the organisation.

2. Implementing transparent pay policies that clearly outline the criteria for pay and promotion decisions.

3. Providing training to managers and supervisors on unconscious bias, fair pay practices, and inclusive leadership.

4. Encouraging flexible work arrangements that allow women to balance work and family responsibilities.

5. Promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace, including the recruitment and retention of women in leadership positions.

6. Offering mentorship and sponsorship programs to support the career development of women.

7. Regularly reviewing and adjusting pay structures to ensure pay equity for all employees. By taking these measures and others, employers can work towards closing the gender pay gap and creating a fair and inclusive workplace for all employees.

8. WGEA Gender Pay Gap Analysis Guide provides practical advice to employers on how to conduct a pay and composition analysis to identify the root causes of their gender pay gap and take steps to address it.

The Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) has collected data from nearly 5000 employers with over 100 staff, which can help you understand the extent of the pay gap in Australia's largest companies. There is also an online tool to search for a specific employer and see their gender pay gap.

It's not just a women's issue

It is important to note that the gender pay gap is not just a women's issue but a societal issue; it affects individuals, families and the economy as a whole. By striving for gender equality in the workplace, businesses can improve employee morale, engagement and retention, as well as boost their reputation and attract top talent. Additionally, implementing fair pay practices can benefit the bottom line by reducing turnover costs and increasing productivity. It is crucial for businesses to take action and address any gender pay gaps that may exist within their organisation.

International Women's Day is an important reminder that there is still a long way to go in achieving gender equality. Employers must take action to close the gender pay gap and create a fair and inclusive workplace. We must continue to take action to create a world where women have equal opportunities and can reach their full potential. Let us all choose to challenge and make a positive difference in the lives of women and girls around the world.