Finance Finance News Pay gap narrows as employers work towards equality

Pay gap narrows as employers work towards equality

gender inequality
Australia's gender pay gap has narrowed thanks to employer action, but the WGEA says more can be done. Photo: AAP
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Australia’s gender pay gap has had its biggest single-year decrease since data has been gathered on the issue, thanks to a concerted effort from employers.

The gap between men and women’s pay dropped 1.1 percentage points in the year to March 31, 2018, according to the latest figures from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency.

It is the fifth consecutive annual fall in the gap. WGEA director Libby Lyons said the trend highlighted the success of employer efforts to combat gender inequality,

“We have clear evidence that employer action delivers real results and we should recognise the great work many employers have done,” she said.

“As employers have taken action, the gender pay gap has declined and gender equality outcomes for women and men across Australia have improved.”

Despite the good work, however, the gap remains significant. WGEA found that, on average, women still earn only 79 per cent of men’s total remuneration.

WGEA found that the number of businesses with pay equity objectives built into remuneration policies had grown from 18 per cent to 40 per cent since 2013. The number taking action after conducting pay gap analyses was up from 46 per cent to 58.5 per cent.

“Another positive result is that women have increased their presence in management over the past five years,” Ms Lyons said.

“Women now comprise almost 40 per cent of the managers in our dataset and almost a third of key management personnel (which is just under the CEO level) are now women.”

Still room for improvement

Despite the good work, more could be done to close the gap, Ms Lyons said. “Although the gender pay gap has narrowed every year, progress is too slow.

“Access to parental leave has not improved, with the provision of paid primary carer’s leave actually going backwards.”

The research also found little progress in industry gender segregation . Only one industry (professional, technical and scientific services) had moved from being male-dominated to mixed, while the information media and telecommunications sector went from mixed to male-dominated.

The report noted that the education and training sector had become “even more female-dominated” in the past five years.

Separate WGEA research has also found that women take charge of a majority of unpaid domestic work, spending up to 64.4 per cent of their weekly working time on such duties. This has a negative effect on their superannuation savings.

As a result, Australian women retire with an average of 47 per cent less in their super than men have. That’s worth about $85,000, according to figures from advocacy group Women In Super.