What organisations can do to bridge Australia’s gender pay divide

While top organisations have been successful in reducing pay gaps, disparities remain in the mining, retail, and professional sectors.
By: | October 6, 2023

Organisations in Australia need to take more action to close their gender pay gaps.

A report, titled Gender Equality Insights 2023, found that the best performing organisations recorded a 5.3 percentage points drop in their gender pay gaps in three years. However, the report by Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC) and the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) also exposed a deep divide within industry sectors between the best performing organisations and the worst performers.

Mining, manufacturing, retail trade, and the professional, scientific, and technical sectors are among the industry sectors where this difference is most pronounced.

To provide guidance to organisations, the report introduced a ‘maturity framework’, which categorises organisations based on their approaches to pay equity strategies, recruitment, retention, parental leave, caregiving policies, and addressing sex-based harassment.

According to Professor Alan Duncan, report author and Director of BCEC, organisations that attain higher maturity levels in gender equality tend to achieve more sustainable results. He emphasised the pivotal role of pay equity audits and reporting gender pay metrics to leadership and boards in driving change. “The best performing organisations also have enhanced parental leave provision for secondary as well as primary carers, as well as reporting, training, and accountability for flexible work,” he added.

Mary Wooldridge, CEO of WGEA, highlighted the impact of legislative reforms, including the publication of employer gender pay gaps in 2024. These reforms aim to bolster transparency and accountability, she said, as experience from international markets suggests that publishing such data can accelerate change.

READ MORE: Employers in Australia urged to close gender pay gap

Astghik Mavisakalyan, report Co-author and Associate Professor of Economics at BCEC, concluded, “Organisations should plan for continual improvements, enhanced actions and higher standards of practice in gender equality policies as internal and external expectations develop.”

“Business leaders need to be careful not to focus attention on one employee group at the expense of others. For example, a commitment to progress gender equality for managers and executives should not diminish the attention given to improving gender equality outcomes among non-managerial occupations.”