In 2019, [Un] Equal Pay Day falls on Wednesday 28 August, marking the additional 59 days women have to work from the end of the last financial year to earn the same amount as men. Equal Pay Day is a symbolic indicator of the significance of the national gender pay gap and why it matters for Australian women.
The Workplace Gender Equality Agency has calculated the national gender pay gap as 14.0% for full-time employees, a difference of $241.50 per week. This is a fall of 0.6 percentage points over the last 12 months. Women’s weekly earnings on average are $1,484.80 compared to men’s weekly average earnings of $1,726.30. This calculation is based on the latest Average Weekly Earnings data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Libby Lyons, Workplace Gender Equality Agency Director, said she would have liked to see a stronger fall in the gender pay gap:
“Although it is good that the gender pay gap has declined slightly and remains stable, it shows that we still need to have more Australian employers taking action on gender equality and addressing pay equity.
“What Equal Pay Day actually signifies is that every other day of the year is Unequal Pay Day for women. Australian women first won the right to be paid the same as men for doing the same work or work of equal or comparable value in 1969 – that’s 50 years ago!
“Employers have to analyse their data to ensure their employees are paid equitably and lawfully. If they identify any pay gaps, they need to create action plans to eliminate them, measure their progress and hold people accountable for the outcomes,” she said.
Ms Lyons also said that [Un] Equal Day Pay highlighted the barriers Australian women still face in having the same opportunities and rewards in our workplaces as men.
“The gender pay gap matters. Women comprise half of Australia’s workforce. Yet over their working life, they will earn less than men, encounter more obstacles to their career progression than men and accumulate less superannuation and retirement savings than men.
“It matters for today’s girls and boys because when they reach adulthood, they deserve to be valued equally for their work. It matters to everyone because we all deserve to experience workplaces where there is no place for discrimination, bias or inequality based on gender,” she said.
Why [Un] Equal Pay Day matters
[Un] Equal Pay Day is not about two people being paid differently for the same work, it is about the national gender pay gap. The gender pay gap refers to the difference between women’s and men’s average weekly full-time base salary earnings, expressed as a percentage of men’s earnings. It is a measure of women’s overall positions in the paid workforce and does not compare like roles.
The gender pay gap is influenced by a number of factors, including discrimination and bias in hiring, promotion and pay decisions, gender segregated industries (with female dominated industries and jobs attracting lower wages), women’s disproportionate share of unpaid caring and domestic work and the lack of workplace flexibility to accommodate caring and other responsibilities, especially in senior roles.
The national gender pay gap has far reaching consequences for individuals, families and the Australian economy. On average, women today will retire with 40% less superannuation than their male counterparts. The homelessness rate for women over the age of 55 is on the rise, marked by an increase of 31% between 2011 and 2016. Increasing women’s participation in the workforce is also key to boosting Australia’s productivity and innovation. Projections by KPMG indicate that if the labour force participation gap between men and women was halved, Australia’s annual GDP would increase by $60 billion in just 20 years. Our cumulative living standards would increase by $140 billion in this time.
[Un] Equal Pay Day matters because it is a strong indication that women’s potential is still not being fully realised or valued in the workplace.
What can you do on [Un] Equal Pay Day?
[Un] Equal Pay Day 2019 is an important reminder that there is still work to be done to achieve gender pay equity in the workplace. You can:
Show your support by taking a selfie with a graphic from our social media pack and tell us why #TheGapMatters to you. Find us @WGEAgency on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn and look out for our posts on the state of gender equality across Australia.
2. Employers – take action!
The Agency urges employers to take action to address gender pay gaps in their organisation and supports women’s participation in the workforce, particularly their progression into senior and non-traditional roles. Want some ideas?
- Conduct a pay gap analysis
- Report the results of your pay gap analysis to your executive and board
- Read our Guide to Gender Pay Equity
- Put in place an overall gender equality strategy or policy
- Set some targets to diversify your workforce
- Adopt a flexible working arrangements policy or strategy
- Offer more support for carers, such as increasing paid parental leave, providing breastfeeding facilities or creating an internal support network for parents
- Consult with your employees about what support they need from you as an employer.
3. Are you an employee?
Pledge to do one thing that will make your lifetime of work more equitable before [Un] Equal Pay Day 2019.
- Ask whether your employer has ever done a gender pay gap analysis
- Benchmark your salary expectations against your peers and not against your salary history
- Be proactive about asking for flexible work arrangements
- Talk to your partner about how to balance paid and unpaid work in your family
- Monitor your superannuation balance
- Build your financial literacy.