Australia, Iceland and the Gender Pay Gap.

Australia, Iceland and the Gender Pay Gap.

Despite all the talk and policies, the disparity between wages based on gender continues to significantly impact the earning capacity and long term financial security of females. The full-time total remuneration gender pay gap based on the 2017-18 WGEA (Workplace Gender Equality Agency) data is 21.3%, meaning men working full-time earn $25,717 on average a year more than women working full-time.

It is that time of year when organisations with 100 staff or more are required to lodge their gender equity report card to WGEA. Companies report on 6 Gender Equality Indicators (GEI) that reflect their efforts over a 12-month period in bringing change to their workforce. Indicators include gender composition, equal remuneration and conditions of employment including flexibility and employee consultation. In my opinion, one of the strongest indicators is GEI 3 which addresses remuneration between women and men. Organisations need to demonstrate ‘robust analysis and correction of pay gaps’. Do you know what ‘robust’ in this context means to me? ‘No rush, there are two sides to this issue, this is a tricky subject and we have to give you time to get on board.’ 

Organisations don’t actually have to solve this issue but do need to indicate that it is on their radar, whilst demonstrating they are moving towards a solution. WGEA have done fantastic work over recent years in driving the change that is needed in the Australian workplace in terms of gender equality. In order to support this work, we need to celebrate those companies who have made themselves ACCOUNTABLE for pay parity. Iceland is the leading example when it comes to addressing the gender pay gap. Effective as of January 1st 2018, ‘Icelandic law requires all companies and institutions with 25 or more staff to obtain an equal pay certificate. Firms must show they have classified jobs according to equal pay and have then analysed people’s wages accordingly.’ (United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, Geneva 18th January 2018). For them, it’s simply – not optional. No equal pay= no play. Whilst we are all working towards pay parity, we need a 7th indicator so that companies can strive for 6/7 or 7/7. The companies who are awarded 7/7 are the companies that will be that much more desirable to work within the future because they genuinely mean business on all levels.

The 7th indicator should be…Drum roll – ACHIEVED pay parity (PP).

Next year I would like to see the current 141 organisations who have the ECGE citation (Employer of Choice in Gender Equality) be assessed for this important 7th Indicator.

These organisations should be highlighted for having moved on from robust discussions to then having solved the issue at hand – ECGE PP – it has a ring to it. These are the companies that are genuinely committed by both word and action to addressing this human rights issue. Apart from doing what is right, the evidence is there to show it is smart business and provides a genuine competitive advantage. And guess what? Your people will know they are working with a group that values and personifies integrity and trust.

The aim for these 141 organisations should be to deliver this PP standard in 12 months and if that is not realistic long term, then it should be mandated. Iceland are progressive and once again they have delivered, as well as setting the bar for us all. If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. We need to move to the next stage of this journey with action as well as accountability. The Equal pay certification is on its way. It is now time for Australia to become one of the leaders on this issue around the world.

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