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Employer Gender Pay Gaps Snapshot 2024: A step towards gender equality

Understanding the progress, challenges, and next steps in achieving gender equality in Australian workplaces.

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Almost one-third of employers have achieved a neutral gender pay gap.
The average total remuneration gender pay gap decreased to 21.7%.
The number of women in CEO level roles and on boards has stagnated.

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In this article, I will summarise the findings from this year’s WGEA Employer Pay Gap Data as a snapshot, articulating the findings in my own opinion, and both positively and constructively, give my feedback on the 2024 submissions and announcements. 

The purpose of the WGEA Employer Gender Pay Gaps Announcement, each year, is to compare employer gender pay gaps by industry, proportion of women in leadership, industry type, and employer size. It aims to help accelerate employer action to close the gender pay gap by providing employers with information on how their gender pay gap compares to other employers nationally and within their respective industries. This highlights trends that can help employers and policymakers identify areas of focus in reducing their own gender pay gap. 

The recently released Employer Gender Pay Gaps Snapshot provides us with valuable insights into the progress made towards achieving gender equality in the workplace, and for 2024, the individual company data for all companies over 100 employees was released for the very first time – marking a monumental step forward for Australia in forcing a reduction in gender pay parity, moving forward. This comprehensive report, compiled by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), highlights both the challenges and the positive strides made by employers in closing the gender pay gap. 

The report emphasises the importance of understanding the drivers of the gender pay gap, such as unconscious bias and structural barriers. Employers need to develop tailored strategies to address these issues and create a more equitable workplace for all employees. 

Let’s delve into the findings and explore the opportunities for further improvement… 

Positive trends 

This year’s data revealed several encouraging trends that deserve recognition. Firstly, almost one-third of employers have achieved a neutral gender pay gap, falling within the range of -5% to +5%. This signifies a significant step towards gender equality, as these employers have successfully minimised the disparity in remuneration between men and women. 

Furthermore, the report highlights the positive impact of women in leadership positions. Evidence shows that companies with more women in executive roles experience improved performance, productivity, and profitability – which will come as no surprise to the masses. It is heartening to note that employers with at least one woman in the CEO position have a lower gender pay gap, indicating a correlation between gender diversity at the top and pay equity throughout the workforce, and organisation. 

Industry insights 

There has been a huge light shed on the variations in gender pay gaps across different industries; Female-dominated industries, such as healthcare and social assistance, exhibit smaller gender pay gaps, with a higher proportion of employers falling within the neutral range. This suggests that industries with a greater representation of women are more likely to prioritise pay equity. 

Conversely, male-dominated industries, including construction and utilities, face greater challenges in achieving pay parity – again no surprises here. Employers in these sectors tend to have larger gender pay gaps, emphasizing the need for targeted interventions to address this imbalance. By focusing on these industries, we can work towards creating a more equitable and inclusive workforce. 

Room for improvement 

While the data highlights positive trends, it also underscores the need for continued efforts to close the gender pay gap. Employers in male-dominated industries, particularly those with larger workforces, face greater challenges in achieving pay equity. This calls for targeted strategies and initiatives to address the underlying causes of these disparities. 

Constructive feedback 

The WGEA announcement provides a valuable opportunity for employers to reflect on their own gender pay gaps and take proactive steps towards improvement. By analyzing the data and comparing their performance to industry benchmarks, employers can identify areas for growth and implement effective strategies to reduce gender pay gaps. 

Female-dominated industries are three times less likely to analyse their payroll for gender pay gaps compared to male-dominated industries, indicating a lack of proactive action

From the hours, days, and now past week of data, I have managed to digest, here are some positive, and some constructive data points from the announcement, with some even falling into both negative and positive categories for different reasons: 

Positive takeaways from the Gender Equality Scorecard: 

– Decrease in gender pay gap: The average total remuneration gender pay gap decreased to 21.7%, the lowest it has ever been, showing progress in narrowing the gap. 

– Increase in women in management: More women are in management roles, including senior positions, leading to higher earnings and a positive trend in reducing the gender pay gap. 

– Industry gender pay gaps are reducing: 79% of industry gender pay gaps have reduced, showing progress in narrowing the pay disparities. 

– Availability of employer funded parental leave: 27% of employers offer universally available paid employer-funded parental leave, indicating support for employees with family responsibilities. 

– Employer action on gender equality: Employers are taking steps towards gender equality, with more women being promoted and appointed at manager level, indicating a positive shift in the right direction. 

Negative takeaways from the Gender Equality Scorecard 

– Stagnation in CEO and board roles: The number of women in CEO level roles and on boards has stagnated, highlighting a lack of progress in achieving gender diversity at the highest levels. 

– Limited opportunities for part-time employees: Part-time employees face limited opportunities to take on management roles, indicating a challenge in achieving equality in career advancement. 

– Part-time management roles not increasing: Only 7% of management roles are part-time, limiting opportunities for flexible work arrangements, especially for women. 

– Minimal change in paid parental leave: The proportion of men taking paid primary parental leave has barely shifted, suggesting a slow pace in achieving gender-balanced parental responsibilities in the workplace. 

– Male dominated industries still falling behind: Female-dominated industries are three times less likely to analyse their payroll for gender pay gaps compared to male-dominated industries, indicating a lack of proactive action.

Immediate employer actions 

To close the gender pay gap effectively, organisations must prioritise gender balance across all levels and sectors. It is crucial for employers to proactively analyse their payroll, identify gaps, and implement targeted measures to promote gender equality in remuneration. 

While some progress has been made, with 55% of employers reducing their gender pay gap year on year, more substantial efforts are needed. Larger employers lead in implementing equal remuneration policies, but all organisations must accelerate their actions to achieve meaningful change. Strategies to close the gender pay gap can include: 

– Conducting gender pay gap analysis: Employers should analyse their payroll to identify existing gender pay gaps and understand the underlying causes. 

– Correcting like-for-like gaps: Taking action to rectify any discrepancies in pay between employees performing similar roles regardless of gender. 

– Reviewing remuneration decision-making processes: Ensuring that salary decisions are made without gender bias and are based on objective criteria. 

– Increasing women in leadership positions: Promoting and supporting the advancement of women into leadership roles within the organisation, has a direct link to business success. 

– Setting targets to reduce the gender pay gap: Establishing clear objectives and achievable goals to actively work towards minimising the gender pay disparity within the workplace.   

Call to action 

While there have been positive developments, such as a decrease in the gender pay gap and more women in management roles, sustained efforts are essential. Employers must commit to comprehensive actions that address the root causes of gender inequality and drive systemic change. 

On top of the simple strategies above, employers should consider some of the following actions, to put strategies in place to close the gap: 

– Conducting gender pay gap analysis: Employers should analyse their pay gaps and take corrective actions to ensure equal pay for all genders.  

– Setting Targets and Taking Action: Establishing achievable targets to increase the number of women in leadership positions and male-dominated roles, and actively following through with actions based on the analysis results.  

– Providing employer-funded paid parental leave: Offering universally available paid parental leave to both men and women without distinction, encouraging men’s uptake to promote gender balance.  

– Implementing flexible work policies:

Ensuring the maintenance and improvement of flexible work policies, providing training to managers, and holding leaders accountable for enhancing flexibility in the workplace.  

– Addressing industrial and occupational segregation: Recognising and addressing barriers that hinder women’s progress into higher-earning and management positions, aiming for gender balance across all levels, departments, and sectors.  

– Enhance diversity initiatives: Employers can implement targeted recruitment strategies to increase diversity in their workforce, focusing on underrepresented groups beyond gender.  

– Promote inclusive policies: Develop and enforce policies that support work-life balance, such as flexible scheduling, remote work options, and inclusive parental leave for all genders.  

– Invest in training programmes: Offer comprehensive training on unconscious bias, diversity, equity, and inclusion to create a more inclusive and equitable workplace culture, ensuring that the future workforce is diverse upon arrival. 

Ensuring the maintenance and improvement of flexible work policies, providing training to managers, and holding leaders accountable for enhancing flexibility in the workplace

– Establish mentorship programmes: Create mentorship opportunities to support career advancement for women and other underrepresented groups within the organisation.  

– Support employee resource groups: Encourage the formation of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) to provide a platform for diverse voices and foster a sense of belonging in the workplace. 

– Implement transparent promotion processes: Ensure promotion processes are fair and transparent, with clear criteria and opportunities for advancement based on merit.  

– Strengthen reporting mechanisms: Establish data and reporting for all diversity metrics, including setting up confidential reporting mechanisms for harassment and discrimination incidents, ensuring swift and appropriate action is taken – reach out to organisations like Equidi and Natalie Flynn for assistance! 

– Foster a culture of accountability: Hold leaders and employees accountable for promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion through regular assessments and 360-degree feedback mechanisms.  

– Collaborate with external partners: Engage with external organisations and experts to gain insights and best practices for advancing gender equality and diversity initiatives – again, using organisations like Equidi / Natalie Flynn and Symmetra / Heather Price, among others for assistance where needed!

– Monitor progress and adjust strategies: Regularly review, amend, and assess the impact of implemented initiatives, making adjustments as needed to drive meaningful change within your own organisations. 

These additional actions DO NOT need to be brand new; they can complement existing efforts and contribute to creating a more inclusive and equitable workplace for all employees. 

Conclusion 

The WGEA public data announcement serves as a powerful tool for promoting transparency and accountability in the pursuit of gender equality. While progress has been made, there is still work to be done. By leveraging the insights from the public reports released on the 27th February of this year, employers can drive positive change, foster inclusive workplaces, and ultimately contribute to a more equitable society in Australia. 

Let us embrace this opportunity to create a future where gender pay gaps are a thing of the past. Together, we can build a world where every individual is valued and rewarded based on their skills, contributions, and potential, regardless of their gender. 

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