Thursday, 8 September 2016

Why you are being paid less because you are a woman

Today, September 8, is Equal Pay Day

Why today? Well, this is the day that as a woman you have now earned the same as the average man in Australia did for FY15-16. That's right, it takes women about 14 months to earn the average male yearly income.


Here are some more concerning stats:
- the current gender pay gap, according to  to Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) is currently 16.6 per cent and has been between 15 and 19 per cent for the past two decades. 
Gender pay gap in ASX 200 organisations is 28.7%
- Average superannuation balance for women at retirement is 52.8% less than for men
- Proportion of CEOs who are female is 15.4%
Gender Pay Gap


Why is there a gender pay gap?


According to WGEA the reason for the pay gap existing is:

- women and men are concentrated in different kinds of jobs leading to industry and occupational segregation
I translate this as we just don't value traditional "women's" jobs which is the "caring" roles such as teaching, child care, nursing and social work. They continue to attract lower wages, which is a phenomenon we do not see in male dominated occupations and industries.

- earnings differences between male and female-dominated industries and occupations
It should be noted that while the starting wage for a man in a female-dominated industry is $82,000 per year, the starting wage for women in female-dominated industries is about $67,000.

- under representation of women in senior positions

- the distribution of unpaid caring responsibilities

- discrimination and bias.

Why should we care about  the gender pay gap?

Apart from the obvious fairness and equity argument, there is an economic one.
The female participation in the workplace is 65.2% compared to the male rate of 79.2%. If women were paid equally, and we know from the above that part of the answer to this is around caring responsibilities, then we can increase the participation rate in Australia which means more workers, and therefore more taxes being paid, while less benefits ("Government handouts") are paid from those taxes. 
And can I remind you of that stat above that women have less than half the Superannuation of their male counterparts at retirement? What a huge burden for the tax payers to bear as women will be forced to rely on Government pensions and other social programs as they age.

You may have seen this article where John Howard says that caring responsibilities are what limit the "capacity" of women in the workplace. And he is quite right of course, as women strive to find a balance between our home and work lives. And that is PRECISELY why our politicians and policy makers need to be actively working on ways to encourage and promote female participation in the workplace. It makes me unspeakably sad that a former politician has made these comments. This is someone that was in a position to help change this and make a difference! 



What can you do in your workplace?

Find out about what Diversity programs are in your workplace. Participate in these programs, forums and educate yourself on this issue and then make any changes you can, such as:
- influencing policy and decision makers 
- mentoring and coaching
- contributing to policy decisions in your workplace around salaries (this includes remuneration reviews and recruitment offers)

If there are no Diversity programs, then ask why not? Maybe you can be the Diversity champion at your workplace and make a meaningful difference.


The more that we as employees, employers and Australian citizens become informed about these issues and work towards solutions, the more notice the Government Policy makers will take. Let's hope that there is some real change over the next two decades.


More workplace tips


Whether you are an employee or run your own business, we'd love for you to join us at Savvy Business Women, our Facebook group dedicated to information, collaboration and support for Business Women.



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