The Gender Pay Gap: What Every Employer Should Know

In the run up to Equal Pay Day on the 4th September, it’s clear that Australian organisations are making slow progress with pay equity. That date was chosen to mark, on average how much longer a women needs to work past the end of the last financial year to earn the same salary as a man. The Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) has reported that the national gender pay gap currently sits at 15.3%  based on recent data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics . But what does this really mean for your business, what can you find out about your industry and how should you act on gender pay gap data?  

Why should I care about the national pay gap?

The gender pay gap is the difference between women’s and men’s average weekly earnings expressed as a percentage of men’s earnings.

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Workplace Gender Equality Agency both show a national gender pay gap favouring full-time working men over full-time working women in every industry and occupational category in Australia.

It’s likely that your organisation is not aware of any pay gap issues among employees however with growing public awareness, it will be something that is top of mind for working women in Australia.

In last year’s WGEA Gender Equality Scorecard report for 2016only 27% of reporting organisations had completed any form of pay equity analysis in the last year.

To put that into perspective, of the 12,000+ reporting employers and 4 million+ employees included in the report, just over 3,000 organisations conducted a pay gap analysis.

Right now, any competitor organisation, current employee, or potential employee can log on to the WGEA website and download a publicly available report, including whether they’ve completed a pay equity analysis.

What does the gender pay gap data tell you?

Pay gaps are not confined to specific industries. The latest WGEA analysis based on ABS data of average weekly full time earnings shows us that the pay gap pervades most industries with the top three with the highest gaps occur in:

  1. Finance and insurance services 29.6%
  2. Professional, Scientific and Technical serices 24.3%
  3. Construction at 23%

In terms of occupation, the gender pay gap was most pronounced in key management roles at 26.6%. It means that on average women earn $93,884 less than men.

In non- manager roles, the pay gap is 20.9% with an average dollar difference of $20,388 in total renumeration*.

Both STEM and Construction are industries that are already facing a growing skills shortage and the challenge of attracting female talent in order to sustain productivity.

*Source WGEA (2016) – based on total remuneration of full time employees, includes full time base salary plus any additional benefits, bonus payments, superannuation, discretionary pay, overtime and other allowances (for example share allocations).

How can I get started with gender pay gap analysis?

The first step towards driving change and creating solutions is to perform a pay gap analysis, after all we can’t manage what we don’t measure.

Undertaking a rigorous gender pay gap analysis provides organisations with vital information critical in tackling biased decision making and how to close any pay gaps.

Pay gap analysis can be a challenging process to undertake for any organisation particularly as it deals directly with how much people are paid (and therefore employee’s perceptions of how much they are valued by their employer), considerations around how you handle disclosure of any differences in addition to managing the actual data analysis and crunching the numbers takes alot of time and head hours to perform.

While the data is complex, we recommend starting with a human centred approach, do the groundwork and ask people directly for feedback from across the organisation.  Gather qualitative feedback on what their views and perceptions are of diversity and inclusion.

Aim to build a richer picture and form insights from the data, it’s important to also understand the cultural and behavioural factors that are influencing the organisation.

We’re here to help

There are are a number of great tools and resources that can boost the impact of your analysis and recommendations:

  • Learn how to create a compelling narrative out of your HR data.
  • Learn how A-HA can help your business achieve higher performance through Diversity & Inclusion.
  • Talk to us submit your details and chat with one of the A-HA team.


Confidential consultation

We offer an initial, confidential appointment tailored to address your questions and guide you in the right direction, whether you're embarking on a new HR journey or seeking expert advice and guidance on complex workplace issues.

This allows us to learn about your business goals and objectives; and for you to get to know our team and how we can support you to achieve those goals.

Our sessions are designed to:

  • understand your specific questions, covering your current situation, potential challenges in culture, behaviour, performance, diversity or inclusion, and any other concerns you may have.
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  • Most importantly establish a foundation for working together. We want you to feel confident that we are the right HR partner for you, because this is your business’ future you are about to invest in, so we need to get it right. 

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