Australia’s national gender pay gap now sits at 13.8%, down from 14.2% six months ago.
The new data, released on Thursday afternoon by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, shows that on average, there is a difference of $255 per week in the full-time earnings of men and women in Australia.
The figures are based on data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics from mid-November, before the emergence of the Omicron variant.
“Any time we see the pay gap decline, it is a welcome sign that the labour market is moving in the right direction,” said Mary Wooldridge, director of the Workplace Gender Equality Agency.
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This gender pay gap figure is the second lowest national pay gap in the last 20 years, the lowest being 13.4% in November 2020.
— WGEA (@WGEAgency) February 24, 2022
Wooldridge said the 13.8% pay gap figure was taken during a period of relative stability in mid- November 2021 before the Omicron wave, when there was increased workforce participation by both women and men.
She said the figures should be taken as an important benchmark ahead of International Women’s Day in March.
“Australian employers must do more than pay lip service to gender equality on one day of the year. This is something that needs dedicated focus, sustained commitment, and, most importantly, action to continue improving the policies that we know make a difference,” Wooldridge said.
“From our latest WGEA Scorecard insights, 42% of organisations were able to make some reductions on their pay gaps in the last 12 months, but 37% of organisations actually saw their pay gaps widen over the same period.”
The WGEA also provided state and territory based gender pay gap data, which shows South Australia with the lowest gender pay gap at 7.4% and Western Australia with the largest gender pay gap at 21.2%.
Wooldridge noted that the gender pay gap in Australia is driven by a variety of factors, like having highly gendered industries and occupations, and that female dominated industries like healthcare and education tend to be paid less.
Women also continue to disproportionately take on most of the unpaid care work in Australia, and there is still rampant unconscious bias and discrimination in recruitment, promotion and negotiation processes.
“Businesses need to look inwards and consider how they recruit, select, and promote all workers in the employee life cycle — and watch out for unconscious bias at every stage,” she said.
“One of the biggest misconceptions is that women are less likely to negotiate or ask for pay rises. Research has proven this isn’t true: women are asking, but they are less likely to receive pay rises than men.
“Practical actions like using free online tools to check job advertisements for gender-neutral language, having gender-balanced interviewing panels, or even clearly advertising roles as being able to be performed flexibly, can all be first steps employers can take to move beyond words and into action to address stereotypes and biases in their workplace.”
The national gender pay gap, as released by the WGEA, is an internationally established measure of the position of full-time, employed women across organisations and industries, in comparison to full-time, employed men.
This article was first published by Women’s Agenda.