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Human Resources

Call for continued commitment as national gender pay gap widens

Health Industry Hub | August 20, 2021 |
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Human Resources: The national gender pay gap has widened according to the latest Australian data.

The Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) confirmed that the new national gender pay gap figure of 14.2% indicates a rise of 0.8 percentage points over the last six months. This means Equal Pay Day 2021 will be on 31 August, marking the 61 extra days from the end of the previous financial year that women, on average, must work to earn the same annual pay as men.

Using the latest Average Weekly Earnings data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), WGEA has calculated the national gender pay gap as 14.2% for full-time employees. This equals a difference of $261.50 per week between women and men. The rise in the national gender pay gap was largely driven by a higher growth in men’s full-time wages (1.8% increase) than women’s (0.9%). The ABS highlights “the high average earnings growth in the Construction industry, which has a high proportion of men” as an explanation for this.

WGEA Director Mary Wooldridge said the increase in the pay gap was concerning and served as a warning to ensure continued focus, effort and commitment to drive it back down again.

“This Equal Pay Day, we’re calling on all Australians to ask #WhatsYourPayGap? in their workplaces and industries as a crucial step towards bridging this divide.

“Equal Pay Day is an ideal opportunity to remind employers around the country that one of the key levers of change is through gender pay audits. These audits help employers identify and address discriminatory pay, to ensure that women are equally compensated and valued,” she said.

“Research proves that regular audits close pay gaps faster. The 2021 Gender Equity Insights Report from BCEC and WGEA showed that employers who consistently did pay audits between 2015-20 closed their managerial pay gaps faster than all other companies. By contrast, those who stopped doing pay audits actually saw their managerial pay gaps increase.”

The WGEA Director said while research findings demonstrate that improving gender equality in the workplace brings clear economic benefits to companies and nations, importantly, the work of Australian women deserves to be equally and fairly valued in our workplaces as a basic principle.

“Closing the pay gap is about fairness. Our data shows women’s average full-time wages are lower than men’s across every industry and occupation in Australia. ’The gender pay gap signifies that the work of women is still not treated as being of equal value to that of men. As the 2021 BCEC-WGEA research report reveals, the sobering reality is that, on current trends, it will take 26 years to close the total remuneration gender pay gap.”

Along with urging action from employers, Ms Wooldridge is also encouraging employees to become active advocates on the issue in the lead up to Equal Pay Day this year.

“Take the first step to find out #WhatsYourPayGap? by going to our website and seeing if your employer has done a pay gap audit and acted on its findings. Start a conversation with your colleagues and friends about the gender pay gap, what it means to you and to them and how you can help to close it. We can all work together to eliminate gender pay discrimination,” she said.


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