Pay gap silence is hurting our economy | Women's Agenda

Pay gap silence is hurting our economy

The gender pay gap not only persists but it is actually increasing.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics confirmed yesterday that the Australian gender pay gap has officially hit a high of 18.8%.

Perhaps it is pride, but many people prefer to think of the gender pay gap as an issue that affects other people. Nobody wants to believe or admit that they are being paid less than what they should be.

I readily admit that the gender pay gap is much more complex than “men earn more than women”, but there is an element of reality that often goes astray when debating the issue. The average full time equivalent working man earns $1,587.40 a week, while the average full time equivalent woman earns $1,289.30. That is a gap of $298.10, or 18.8% every single week.

Over a full year that amount reaches $15,501.20.

That is a serious amount of money that gender inequality is keeping from the average full-time working woman.

Among our OECD counterparts, the Australian gender pay gap is doing us no favours. Our gap is wider than the US, the UK, New Zealand, Mexico and the OECD average.

A growing gender pay gap defies decency and logic. In my discussions with managers and executives they instinctively say that they do not have a pay gap in their teams. Yet when I ask them about the last time they undertook a pay equity analysis, some of them need an explanation on what that actually is.

Organisations need to work on the presumption that they do have a gender pay gap because  thinking the opposite is growing the problem.

The first step to overcoming any issue is accepting that it exists; the same is true for inequality and discrimination.

The economics of ignoring the pay gap simply do not stack up. Hampering women’s financial capacity limits the way they can invest in the economy. 

As the gap follows women in their career, it can limit their independence and grow their reliance on financial assistance, this is best found viewing the gap in retirement.

Closing the pay gap is a top down and bottom up approach. Nothing will happen unless executives are engaged and see it as a problem.

That might start by using the Workplace Gender Equality Agency’s In Your Handstools or raising the issue with their HR department.

What deeply concerns me is the eerie silence by government. Where is the Minister for Employment or the Minister for Women calling this unnecessary discrimination out? Or the Treasurer from an economic stand point? Or the Prime Minister as a national economic challenge?

Isn’t the fact that the average woman could take home an additional $15,000 each year, a reason to take some action?

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