International Women's Day

Australian gender pay gap hits record low, more employers drive income equality

Australian gender pay gap hits record low

Latest data has shown that the gender pay gap in Australia has reached a 20-year low and more businesses are striving for income equity.

As this year’s theme for International Women’s Day is ‘Balance for Better’, it’s reassuring to receive good news from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (AGEA).

AGEA’s research, which uses Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Average Weekly Earnings trend series data, shows that the national gender pay gap has dropped, reaching 14.1 per cent – the lowest point it has reached in more than 20 years.

On average, this means that women working full-time earned $1455.80 per week compared to men working full-time who earned $1695.60.

This means that, on average, Australian women working full-time earn $239.80 less each week compared to their male counterpart. That’s a difference of $12,496.60 per year.

Perhaps a promising indication of a trend to come, the data also shows that the national gender pay gap declined from 14.6 per cent to 14.1 per cent in the past six months.

Even though this is huge progress, there is still more to be done to close the gap. Equal pay will only be achieved when all employers scrutinise their pay data for pay gaps and confront issues such as bias.

Libby Lyons, director of the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, said more employers are analysing their pay data for pay gaps and taking action to ensure women and men are equally remunerated.

“These actions by Australian employers are a key contributing factor in the ongoing decrease in the gender pay gap,” she said.

“However, we have to keep our foot on the pedal and maintain momentum. I now want to see all Australian employers take action on addressing pay equity.”

More employers act to close pay gap

Every year the WGEA recognises active commitment to achieving gender equality in Australian workplaces through their Employer of Choice for Gender Equality (EOCGE) citation.

A record 141 Australian organisations were awarded the citation for 2018-19.

This year’s list features 26 first-time recipients including L’Oreal Australia, Charles Sturt University, Vodafone and Toyota. The Australian Football League (AFL) debuted on the list, making it the first national sporting organisation to be awarded the citation.

Some qualities of this year’s ECOGE recipients included establishing flexible work arrangements, programs to support women into leadership, parental leave for both women and men, initiatives to encourage women to return to work after a career break, and robust analysis and correction of gender pay gaps.

Lyons said gender equality has become an important focus for Australian employers, with many organisations introducing strategies and policies to ensure women and men are equally valued and rewarded in the workplace.

However, policies and strategies cannot just live on paper – they have to be implemented, said Lyons.

“Our EOCGE citation does not signify that these employers have solved all of their gender equality issues. Rather, it recognises that they have embraced a rigorous and detailed programme to transform their workplaces,” she said.

“The gender pay gap is a symptom of a broader cultural problem in our workplaces." – Libby Lyons.

Women still face hurdles in workplace

Despite these positive results, Lyons said the national gender pay gap remains an important reminder that women continue to face significant barriers in the workplace, particularly in terms of pay.

“The gender pay gap is a symptom of a broader cultural problem in our workplaces. It reflects that women’s work is traditionally undervalued and women are under-represented in senior executive and management roles,” she said.

“Average full-time salaries are lower for women than men in every occupation and industry in Australia and female-dominated occupations and industries attract lower pay than male-dominated ones.”

Sharon Green, editor

Sharon Green

Sharon Green is the founding editor of SHE DEFINED.

An experienced journalist and editor, Sharon has worked in mainstream media in Australia and the United Kingdom.

Forever in search of a publication that confronted the real issues faced by modern women, Sharon decided to create her own.