Serious about gender equality? It’s time to take the Pay Gap Pledge

by Verve

This International Women’s Day (IWD) is March 8, and Verve Super is tackling the Gender Pay Gap head on – while last year we talked about how IWD is about More Than Cupcakes, and equipped individuals with tools they needed to address pay inequality with their employers, this year we are going directly to the companies that can make a difference (read: all companies).

A quick reminder on the stats – the current average Gender Pay Gap is 21.7 percent in Australia. This means that for every dollar a man makes on average, a woman earns 78¢. Add that up over a year and women are taking home $26,393 less on average. (We don’t know about you, but we have a few ways to use an extra 26k every year!)

That’s why we’ve launched the Pay Gap Pledge campaign to coincide with newly available company-level pay gap data (more on that below) and International Women’s Day. The Pay Gap Pledge is a direct call to action to businesses to step up, be accountable, and make real changes. More than awareness, this is a call for businesses to commit to equality, and a roadmap for achieving it. 

Closing the Gender Pay Gap isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s good business — so it’s time to ditch the platitudes (and the cupcakes) and face the data.

Grab the Popcorn, This is Going to be Interesting

On the 27th of February 2024, the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) publicly releases Gender Pay Gap data for private companies with over 100 employees. This means more than four and a half million Australian employees, or about 40 per cent of the country’s workforce, will be able to look up the gap at their company and see how they stack up

While it will make for riveting reading (popcorn optional), we’re more than a little frustrated that the Gender Pay Gap is still a ‘thing’. As a company on a mission to close the gender gap in superannuation, which is directly linked to the Gender Pay Gap — it’s time to kick off our IWD campaign for 2024 with a Pay Gap Pledge and IWD Walkout that’s sure to get fists pumping and change happening.

Let’s Skip to the Good Part

When it comes to the Gender Pay Gap, there is certainly some temptation to name and shame the offenders. However, if we want companies to truly make change, we need to help them on their way. 

That’s why we created the Pay Gap Pledge. (Here’s the landing page for all the information on how to take it and who has already.) It’s important that every company develops an action plan tailored to their organisation and its needs. And to know that organisation’s like Verve are here to help. 

When you take the Pay Gap Pledge, you will receive:

  • A Toolkit with tangible, evidence-based steps to take
  • Gender Pay Gap data on your company once it’s released
  • [For companies] Your logo listed as a corporate supporter
  • [For individuals] We petition your company to take the pledge

When companies take action to close the Gender Pay Gap, everybody benefits — employees, customers, and the bottom line. So, what are you waiting for?

A Toolkit for Change: Actions for Businesses

Here’s the thing: Verve is on a mission to give every workplace the tools they need to address their gender pay gap and dismantle the barriers to pay equality. In consultation with specialists in workplace gender equality, we have developed a free downloadable Pay Gap Pledge Toolkit for businesses that outlines a number of proposed actions to improve gender equality and close the Gender Pay Gap this International Women’s Day and beyond. 

Each action is designed to be a meaningful and measurable step towards rectifying systemic biases and fostering an inclusive workplace culture that values (and remunerates) people’s contributions regardless of gender.

Example actions include:

  • Properly understanding pay gap data
  • Setting clear targets for equality
  • Improving hiring practices
  • Making parental leave a priority
  • Enhancing HR policies to support gender equality

It’s A Walkout: Carrying on a Legacy of Change

From the New York shirtwaist strike of 1909 where women walked out on the job to protest working conditions and wages, to the 1975 Iceland Women’s Strike, where 90 per cent of women stopped all paid and unpaid work — walkouts provide a stark reminder of women’s contributions and provide an effective way to spur employers into action.

Reminiscent of these landmark walkouts that have punctuated the path to gender equality, we are calling on women+ to do the same by walking, rolling or peacing out of jobs at 3:14pm on March 8. A country-full of workplaces with no women+, now that oughta get some attention.

Embodying the principle of collective action, and demonstrating solidarity among workers, activists, and allies — walking out at 3:14pm sends a powerful message that we are willing to take bold steps together to demand change, and leverage our collective power for good.

Why 3:14pm? 3:14pm is 78% of the way through a standard 9-5 workday, and the time at which women stop getting paid on average compared to a man.

Take the Pay Gap Pledge and IWD Walkout ↗

The Case for Pay Equality

While we’d hope by now that the case for pay equality in the workplace would be clear — here we are. As we see it, there are three major reasons (beyond that it’s the just and fair thing to do) why equality pays: Retention, Financial Performance and Reputation.

  1. Retention and Employee Diversity

    Gender diversity in a company, more broadly, contributes to a narrower pay gap. While no one wants to learn their company has a pay gap, women are more likely than men to make moves away from an organisation with a high pay gap.

  2. Financial Performance

    The data is clear – Companies with greater gender diversity outperform less gender-diverse firms, and companies with persistently poor gender pay gaps experience adverse financial impacts.

  3. Customers and Reputation

    Aside from the obvious financial benefits, poor pay gap metrics make customers low-key mad. A Harvard Business Review study found that consumers are not only more likely to post negative content on social media after learning about a company’s gender pay gap, but they value products less and they are less likely to buy them at all. Yikes.

    With research consistently showing that businesses with diverse workforces experience better financial performance, higher employee retention rates, and enhanced reputation among consumers — why wouldn’t you take action to close the Gender Pay Gap?

A note on language

Sometimes you will see references to ‘two genders’ or ‘men’ and ‘women’. While we wholeheartedly recognise that not everyone falls into this gender binary, unfortunately the majority of studies either don’t collect, or don’t report, data that adequately captures gender diverse members of the community.

Progress is coming, but we are not there yet.

In places where we are not reporting directly on the data, Verve uses the term ‘women+’ to centre women in a way that is welcoming and respectful of both cis or trans women. It’s also our way of recognising non-binary and gender non-conforming members of our community and welcoming allies who are committed to our mission.

Over the coming weeks we will be tackling all things Gender Pay Gap, including unpacking the gaps within the gap, the impact of feminised workforces, and the impact of pay on superannuation inequality. Be sure to sign up to the Verve newsletter so you don’t miss a thing!

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Interested in the Pay Gap Pledge and IWD Walkout? Learn more.

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