Almost 75% of Australian businesses don’t know if they have a gender pay gap

The chief executives of 3000 Australian companies will receive a gift this week – a bottle of Daughter Water.

The light-hearted drink to “help chief executives have daughters” is part of a campaign by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency to shine a light on the Australian companies that have not examined their payroll to see if there is a pay gap between male and female employees.

The idea behind the water is many business leaders report a change in the way the see gender equality issues when they have a daughter, and according to the workplace gender agency, international research suggests organisation gender pay gaps do in fact decrease when chief executives have daughters.

On a more serious note, the government agency’s campaign also includes the launch of a public database, which allows users to search for companies to see which ones have assessed their gender pay gap and what action they have taken to reduce the gap.

Analysis of data received by the agency shows 73.7% of Australian employers have never looked for a gender pay gap in their accounts and less than one in five have examined their payroll in the last 12 months.

The agency found organisations in the finance and insurance sectors were the most likely to have looked at their gender pay gap, followed by public administration and mining.

On the other hand, organisations in the education and training, accommodation and food services and healthcare and social assistance spaces were the least likely to have analysed their data.

Of the organisations that had analysed their gender pay gap, the workplace gender agency found 31% had not taken any action to address the discrepancies.

While companies with less than 100 employees are not required to report to the agency, director Helen Conway told SmartCompany medium-sized firms with more than 100 employees are required to report to the agency.  

Conway says it is important for firms of all sizes to “know about the issue and know that we can help them”.

In terms of addressing gender pay gaps, Conway says her advice for small businesses is “the same as for large businesses”.

“It’s all about looking at your pay data and this might be a little easier for smaller organisations which have fewer employees,” she says.

“You really don’t know if you have a gender pay gap unless you look at the data. If you look at your data and find a problem, you then need to take some action.”

Conway says the Workplace Gender Equality Agency understands SMEs may not have the same resources as large companies when it comes to addressing the issue of pay disparity between male and female staff members.

“That why all the tools and resources, including a pay gap calculator, on our website are free,” she says.

“You can go online and use that calculator to do your pay analysis. We know small organisations can be a little strapped in terms of resources, we’re particularly mindful of that.”


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