Three in four bosses fail to check for gender pay gap

13_Three in four bosses fail to check for gender pay gap

(Sydney Morning Herald)

Three out of four bosses don’t know if there is a financial discrepancy between their male and female staff earnings and it is in female-dominated industries of education and healthcare that they are least likely to have explored such data.

New research from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency has found that less than one in five surveyed companies had conducted an audit in the past 12 months.

Of those who had conducted an analysis, 24.6 per cent said they discovered no gap. Of those that did find a gap, 44.4 per cent reported that they were working on eliminating the problem but 31 per cent had not addressed the problem.

Insurance and finance companies were most likely to have completed an audit (51.1 per cent) followed by those in public administration and mining.

The most common reason was because pay is set by industrial agreements or awards.

However, WGEA director Helen Conway said that without an audit, bosses would remain unaware of unconscious bias towards male employees.

“Most leaders genuinely believe they pay people in their organisation fairly, but without examining their payroll data they simply don’t have the evidence to back that up,” she said.

To counter the research findings, WGEA will launch a campaign encouraging some of Australia’s biggest companies to establish their own gender pay audit. “In Your Hands” will allow employees to check if their employer has done an audit and what steps, if any, they have taken to reduce the gap.

Thirty one chief executives have been appointed as campaign ambassadors, including Microsoft CEO Pip Marlow, Arup CEO Peter Bailey and Federation Centres’ Steven Sewell.

Ms Marlow said it “makes no sense” to limit the earning ability of half the workforce simply because of their gender.

“Just as in business, we need to attract the best talent and retain the best talent so there is no room for gender bias in remuneration and performance management decisions,” she said.

More than 4000 chief executive officers and human resource teams will be invited to take part in the program to help lift the current 18 per cent rate of gender pay audits.

Ms Conway said companies that took part in audits often found gender pay gaps that could not be explained and were able to make changes to correct the imbalance.

Australian Bureau of Statistic figures show the gender pay gap has widened to a 10-year high. Women are now earning less than their male counterparts for the same work since records were first collected in 1994, with an 18.2 per cent difference.

According to ABS, the average ordinary full-time weekly earnings for men in $1559.10 compared to $1275.90 for women. In the past 12 months, men’s average salary increased 2.9 per cent but women realised an increase of just 1.9 per cent.

Ms Conway said research revealed women who negotiated aggressively in pay negotiations were treated more harshly than their male peers and women are likely to be judged on their past performance. By comparison, men are judged on future potential.


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