Despite the pay gap being down by 1.1% on last year, the latest Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) data has shown that women earn 21.3% less than their male counterparts, and that a gender pay gap still exists in every Australian industry, occupation and manager category.
WGEA Director Libby Lyons said that while an increasing number of employers were analysing their remuneration data and putting policies in place, there were still many who took no action even when they were aware of the pay gap issue in their workplace.
Lyons said that their survey last year identified an “action gap” where organisations had policies and strategies in place, but they were not making managers accountable for embedding them in their workplaces.
This confirms one of the key findings of the Professionals Australia Women in STEM survey “All Talk” which found that the gap between policy and practice was a key obstacle to gender equity in STEM.
Around half of the survey respondents indicated that their workplace did not have formal policies in place to promote diversity or deal with discrimination, and even where policies were in place, significant gaps between policy and practice were widespread. Women reported difficulty in accessing relevant provisions and where they were utilised, there was often a career penalty attached.
Professionals Australia CEO Chris Walton said that “Alongside a failure to put in place proper diversity and anti-discrimination policies, the failure to implement the strategies and management accountabilities to give effect to diversity and anti-discrimination policies often allows workplace culture to override policy intent.
“We’ll never close the gender pay gap, increase the net participation of women in STEM or address women’s lower retirement savings and economic security until we address the factors that contribute to the gender pay gap,” he said.
“Bias in career-building activities, the career penalty attached to career disruption and part-time work, gender stereotyping, sexual harassment, unconscious bias in recruitment and decision-making and workplace cultures that penalise or marginalise women that rock the boat together add up to the attrition of women from the STEM workforce, their concentration in less senior roles and underrepresentation at senior, management and Board levels.
“While the WGEA found an increase in the number of women in management roles, the five-year data trends also show almost no movement in gender segregation across Australian industries. If we don’t address these things, we’ll be looking back in another 10 years wondering why the gender pay gap still isn’t fixed. Ongoing action at the enterprise level is needed to address the ‘action gap’, to address attrition and impact gender segregation – only then will we produce the shifts needed to close the gender pay gap”.