Unlike the thigh gap, the pay gap is real. This year, Equal Pay Day falls on 4 September, marking the additional time from the end of the previous financial year that women must work to earn the same as men. While the day doesn’t call for champagne, it’s a reminder to all of us that the gap still exists and to continue to fight for pay equality.
So, where did we land? The figures released two weeks ago by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) found the national gender pay gap is 15.3%, which is a 0.9% decrease from the last year. For the past 20 years, it’s always hovered between 15 to 19% At this rate of change, it would take 50 years (or more) to sort it which is way too bloody long and a lot of bras burnt.
This also means on average, men working full-time earned $1,638.30 and women earned $1,387.10, a difference of $251.20 per week. Imagine what you can do with that moolah?
A report commissioned by Westpac in conjunction with AFR in 2016, showed women’s starting pay is nearly 12% less than men for full-time work, and the gap remains for the entirety of their career. It is estimated the difference is worth nearly $123.4 billion annually, assuming women had the same rate of employment as men and paid equally in like for like jobs.
So why is there a gap? There are a number of contributing factors:
- Discrimination and bias in hiring and pay decisions
- Women and men working in different industries and different jobs, with female-dominated industries and jobs attracting lower wages
- Women’s disproportionate share of unpaid caring and domestic work
- Lack of workplace flexibility to accommodate caring and other responsibilities, especially in senior roles
- Women’s greater time out of the workforce impacting career progression and opportunities.
So what can be done to address this?
Make a semi passive-aggressive song and dance about the pay gap like this video to prove a point? If you subtract the gender pay gap from an 8-hour-work day, women in Australia are only paid until 3:45 pm.
OK, yes we do need LOL’s and light-hearted comedy every now and then but in all seriousness, here are 5 things companies can start doing (or do more of):
- Provide paid parental leave and subsidised/on-site childcare.
- Improve the culture around flex work policies and encourage men to take up on flexible work. (flexibility is not a “women’s issue”)
- Improve performance reviews and feedback – be mindful of unconscious bias when it comes to performance reviews, as men and women’s performance sometimes receives different types of evaluation. According to Harvard Business Review, vague feedback is holding women back. and correlates to lower performance ratings for women.
- Be transparent around pay.
- Evaluate recruiting practices and again, minimise unconscious bias.
So, come Monday Equal Pay Day, may the gap get smaller and smaller.