Whilst many of us celebrated International Women’s Day just weeks ago, and with this the achievements Australia has made in bridging the gap of gender inequality, we still have a long way to go.
According to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), Australia’s current gender pay gap is 13.3%. This means that, on average, for every dollar men earn, women earn just 87 cents in comparison. Over the course of a year, this figure equates to an average of $13,182 less in the earnings of women than their male colleagues, and over 30 years, means that women end up with a staggering $400,000 less in their pockets than men.
On 30 March 2023, Parliament passed the Workplace Gender Equality Amendment (Closing The Gender Pay Gap) Bill 2023. The passing of the Bill means that both private and Commonwealth public sector organisations with 100 or more employees are required to report their gender pay gap annually, and, allows the WGEA to publish these findings. Together with the remade Legislative Instruments, which took effect on 6 February 2023, the reforms aim to improve transparency, accountability and accelerate employer action to address gender pay disparities in Australia.
This announcement is significant, putting the issue of gender pay inequality at the forefront of the business agenda. Whilst some businesses have already taken action to address the issue, many more will now be forced to.
So, what do employers need to know about the WGEA’s decision? Here are some key points to consider.
Why is it important to address the gender pay gap?
The gender pay gap is a significant issue, as it affects the financial security of women in the workforce. It also carries broad social and economic implications, for example, women earning less than men are less likely to be able to save for retirement, which can lead to poverty in later life. It is women over 55 years of age who are the largest growing homelessness demographic. The gender pay gap also has consequences for the Australian economy, as the lower earning potential of women means they have less money to spend, directly impacting economic growth.
What are the reporting requirements?
Employers in both private and public sectors with over 100 employees will be required to report their gender pay gap annually. The report must include the following information:
- The gender pay gap for the organisation as a whole
- The gender pay gap for each manager category
- The gender pay gap for each occupation category
- The proportion of women in the top quartile of earners
- The proportion of women in the bottom quartile of earners
- The proportion of women in the workforce overall
Employers will also now be required to report on their strategies for addressing the gender pay gap in their organisation.
The WGEA Portal opens on the 1st of April for employers to submit their reports. Organisations then have two months to edit and finalise their submissions, with all reports due on the 31st May. This is the same each year, with reports covering the preceding 12 month period.
Organisations that fail to meet this deadline will be given a 28-day notice period to rectify this by submitting their overdue report. If no report has been submitted after this period, the employer may be named as non-compliant with the Act, and may be added to a list of non-compliant organisations which is published publicly by the WGEA.
What are the benefits of reporting?
Reporting on your organisation’s gender pay gap can help to identify areas where gender pay disparities exist. This can help your business to address any issues and improve overall performance, as well as improve your brand reputation by demonstrating a clear commitment to fairness and equality in the workplace. In the age of social media and online reviews, businesses that fail to take the gender pay gap seriously risk negative feedback and damage to their brand. This can also carry flow-on effects and impact your organisation’s ability to attract and retain talent, as potential candidates may be less inclined to work for an organisation with a poor reputation for gender equality.
What can I do to I address the gender pay gap as an employer?
To effectively address levels of gender pay disparity in your organisation, you might want to consider the following:
- Ensure any barriers to support women with career progression are identified and mitigated
- Conduct regular pay audits
- Implement transparent pay structures
- Encourage women to take on leadership roles in the organisation
- Provide adequate training and development opportunities
- Implement diversity and inclusion policies
It is clear that the WGEA is committed to taking action to close the gender pay gap in the Australian workforce in 2023 like we have never seen before. Therefore, it is vital that employers take a proactive approach to comply with the reporting requirements and address any disparities they may find in their organisation, to play their part in closing the gap.
To find out more, get in touch with PerformHR to speak with one of our team members about how we can assist in your workplace’s findings.