The Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) has released its most recent gender pay gap data for Australia, showing that over the last six months, the gap has increased by 0.3 percentage points, reaching 14.1 per cent in May.
More than that, taking into account the large number of women working part-time, the gender pay gap for all employees is far higher.
SAGE CEO Dr Wafa El-Adhami said that the recent increase of the gender pay gap was a reminder to organisations that they cannot lose sight of the issue.
“WGEA’s findings highlight why it’s important to take a holistic approach to tackling gender inequity, of which the pay gap is a symptom.
“There is no single cause of the pay gap – it arises from the cumulative effect of entrenched systems and cultures in multiple teams, departments, and work areas,” Dr El-Adhami said.
In order to fix these issues, organisations require strong leadership, a clear vision, and ongoing commitment to sustain action informed by evidence.
“A well-functioning organisation should not have inequities in remuneration or other aspects of employment. People look to their Board and executive leadership for strategic direction, so it’s the leadership’s responsibility to set explicit goals for gender equity.
“Failing to prevent and address inequities can be detrimental to business performance, talent management and organisational reputation. Good governance means protecting the organisation from such risks, making equity, diversity and inclusion an essential part of good governance.”
Despite the bleak numbers, there is a silver lining when it comes to organisations accredited by SAGE.
“SAGE subscribers and accredited institutions are implementing targeted actions to ensure that their part-time staff have equal opportunities for career development and progression – for example, including part-time staff in performance development discussions and providing, or making them aware of, pathways for advancement,” Dr Wafa El-Adhami said.
“As part of their application for SAGE accreditation, all subscribers have to conduct a pay equity audit.
“They also take actions that target the reasons for any gaps – such as re-evaluating or standardising the work values for different roles; creating more transparent processes for determining any loadings or bonuses; increasing gender diversity at all levels in all areas to eliminate gaps that arise from gender-segregated occupations – and measure the impact of those actions over time.”
Analysis of SAGE-accredited institutions in the medical research field showed that they generally performed better than non-subscribers on key WGEA gender equality indicators.
“Medical research institutions (MRIs) who are SAGE awardees have a higher proportion of women in CEO and head of business positions and across their governing bodies. All these institutions have a formal gender equality policy/strategy and conducted a pay gap analysis, compared to about 80 per cent of non-SAGE MRIs,” Dr El-Adhami said.
“Roughly 85 per cent of SAGE MRI Awardees have taken action as a result of their pay gap analysis, compared to only 20 per cent of non-SAGE MRIs.”
In a similar vein, SAGE university awardees were found to have a greater proportion of women across all key senior leadership positions and their governing bodies.
“95 per cent of SAGE university awardees have conducted a pay gap analysis and taken action as a result, compared to only roughly 60 per cent and 20 per cent of non-SAGE universities respectively,” Dr El-Adhami said.
“These findings further demonstrate the effectiveness of SAGE as a transformative change program. I encourage organisations to join SAGE to accelerate their progress in gender equity. Our flexible approach helps organisations understand and act on the specific inequities they face; it rewards them for doing so and holds them accountable for taking action to improve.”
SAGE accredited institutions are now entering a phase where the impacts of these actions are becoming more evident – all of which will directly or indirectly help close the gender pay gap.
“For example, Edith Cowan University (ECU) recently received a Cygnet Award, recognising their work to improve access to flexible working arrangements – a critical enabler for women’s workforce participation, and thus a key lever for closing the gender pay gap,” Dr El-Adhami said.
“ECU’s Cygnet Award application been published on the SAGE website. We’re excited to share more of these reports in future so that other organisations can learn from and translate the incredible work our subscribers have done.”