Breaking it Down and Bridging the Gender Pay Gap: Why the Gender Pay Gap is Everyone’s Business

by Verve

The Gender Pay Gap is more than just a statistic; it’s a reflection of the persistent inequalities women *still* face in the workplace. And it’s a cold hard fact, no matter how much your Dad’s mate’s golfing buddy thinks the Gender Pay Gap isn’t a thing.

The reality is that women, on average, continue to earn 78¢ for every $1 a man makes in Australia, which adds up to $26,393 a year. And we’re not sure about you — but we could definitely do with an extra 26K a year…

The Gender Pay Gap in Australia is only one teeny tiny cent higher than the global average, which will take 257 years to close at the current rate. That’s a no from us, unless we do something — now.

The good news is that companies who *actually* care about reducing their Gender Pay Gap, and take the necessary steps to do so, are having some pretty great success. That’s not nothing, but we need to see more of it.

Starting with an understanding of what the gap truly represents, and why data is the backbone of change — let’s dig into how businesses can boost workplace gender equality by taking the Pay Gap Pledge.

Interested in what the gap looks like in your organisation? Sign up here and we’ll send it to you ↗

Demystifying the Gender Pay Gap

A useful proxy for measuring broader issues of unequal opportunities, discrimination, and undervaluing women’s work, the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) calculates the Gender Pay Gap each year, using data from the ABS and the Employer Census.

Just to get ahead of any confusion — this is not about equal pay for equal work, which has been the law since the late 1960s. Instead, the Gender Pay Gap represents a systemic problem that impacts women’s economic health and wellbeing — from the moment they set foot in the workforce, until the day they retire (with significantly less super, we might add).

Shown as both a percentage (21.7%) and a dollar figure ($26,393 per annum), it shows the difference between earnings of women and men. While it must be said that data is still lacking for gender diverse groups, WGEA does a pretty great job at breaking down data trends by age, industry and state, consistently finding that there is a pay gap in favour of men in Australia. But how big is the gap, actually?

Why Two Sets Of Data

To calculate the Gender Pay Gap, WGEA uses two different data sets. That means we often see two different sized gaps. And this is where the confusion often sets in, so let’s break it down.

1. Average total remuneration gap (currently 21.7%)

The first gap uses data directly from employers as part of WGEA’s annual Employer Census. This includes an employee’s total package, i.e. base salary, overtime, bonuses, superannuation, and additional payments. It also includes the full-time equivalent salaries of casual and part-time workers, many of whom are women. 

2. Average base salary gap (currently 123%)

This second gap represents the national base salary gender pay gap, and is calculated using data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Survey of Average Weekly Earnings. It shows the gap in base salary for full-time workers only — meaning it excludes overtime, bonuses, super, and additional payments, as well as the salaries of part-time and casual workers.

We much prefer to go by the first data set — total remuneration — because it provides a more comprehensive view of the Gender Pay Gap and gets far closer to showing the reality for working women. By capturing all income types and work arrangements, we can see the often hidden gender disparities in bonuses and compensation structures. And because to truly advocate for women+’s long-term financial security and the systemic change that’s needed, we need to know what is really going on, right?

Why Publicly Available Data Matters

It was a true *grab the popcorn* moment on February 27, 2024, when the facts and figures on the Gender Pay Gap in Australian companies with 100+ employees were made publicly available. And suffice to say, many businesses are being forced to confront some pretty darn uncomfortable truths, especially those who purport to be ‘all about women’. 

Naming and shaming has its place, for sure, but we don’t reckon this is it. This is an opportunity not to call businesses out; but to call them in and provide clear, actionable steps forward on workplace gender equality. 

Why? Because the way we see it, awareness is often the first step towards change. By making that data public, we have the chance to get things out in the open and learn from each other. And even for companies with a smaller pay gap, there are always improvements to be made.

Transparency is a powerful tool for change, not only in holding companies accountable, but in helping manage and measure improvements over time in a way that propels us all forward. 

The Power of the Pay Gap Pledge

Now that the data is available for all to see, it’s what happens next that we really care about. How do companies respond? How will they commit to taking action? How can we help them on their way? Because data is only one piece of the equality puzzle. And this is where the Pay Gap Pledge comes in.

The Pay Gap Pledge is a commitment by businesses to not only recognise the Gender Pay Gap but take concrete steps to eradicate it. More than a symbolic gesture; it’s a roadmap for systemic change designed to create more inclusive, just and equal workplace cultures.

Companies who take the Pay Gap Pledge are making a public declaration that they refuse to be passive bystanders to inequality, and instead are committing to being active participants in building a more equitable future. 

Testament to the power of collective action and the role businesses can play in societal change, it’s an opportunity for companies to stand on the right side of history and to show (not just say) that they are committed to genuine change. Because we’ve all had more than enough of companies who say one thing and then do another.

Take The Pay Gap Pledge

We are urging businesses to take the Pay Gap Pledge — not just as a one-time gesture, but as their next step on the road to gender equality. 

The time for inaction is over, and the time for change is here. Find out more about the Pay Gap Pledge and let’s see how powerful those numbers truly are.

Keep your eyes peeled on the Verve Magazine over the coming weeks as we tackle all things Gender Pay Gap, including the impact of feminised workforces, and superannuation inequality. Be sure to sign up to the Verve newsletter so you don’t miss a thing!

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