Gender on the agenda: Every company’s pay gap to be exposed in Australian first

Headshot of Katina Curtis
Katina Curtis
The Nightly
2 Min Read
Leading female politicians say moves towards closing the pay gap cannot just be left at tut-tutting over the statistics or businesses congratulating themselves with morning teas.
Leading female politicians say moves towards closing the pay gap cannot just be left at tut-tutting over the statistics or businesses congratulating themselves with morning teas. Credit: The Nightly

Every large company’s gender pay gap will be laid bare on Tuesday in an Australian first.

But leading female politicians say moves towards closing the pay gap cannot just be left at tut-tutting over the statistics or businesses congratulating themselves with morning teas for women.

Deputy Liberal leader Sussan Ley warned businesses must not get lost “in statistical haze” and instead be genuinely accountable for what was going on in their own organisation.

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“If you’re a big business in the private sector, and you’ve got more than 100 employees, and all you’re doing on International Women’s Day is putting on a morning tea and congratulating yourself with respect to the strong female talent in your ranks? That’s not enough,” she said.

“That’s my fear, that that is where the corporate sector has slipped back to.”

She also took a swipe at large companies that had been outspoken on cultural issues such as the Voice and Australia Day, “arguably things that are outside their remit”, cautioning they must be prepared to answer questions about the gender pay gap.

“How they value women and pay women and support women’s career progression is well inside their remit,” Ms Ley said.

The overall pay gap has dropped to 12 per cent after nearly five years of stagnating, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed last week.

Minister for Women Katy Gallagher said that was underpinned by broad-based wage growth.

The individual company pay gaps would offer transparency across the board and could be a powerful tool for accountability and change, she said.

“This is not about concentrating, I think, on those … where the gap is the biggest, it’s about making sure all businesses where they can are making efforts to close the gender pay gap,” she said.

Katy Gallagher said individual company pay gaps would offer transparency across the board.
Katy Gallagher said individual company pay gaps would offer transparency across the board. Credit: Martin Ollman/Getty Images

Senator Gallagher highlighted the need to use “all the levers available to us” to bring about gender equality.

Workplace Relations Minister Tony Burke cited changes over the past year including a ban on pay secrecy clauses, the Government backing a substantial pay rise for the feminised aged care workforce, and improvements to flexibility aimed at boosting women’s participation.

“What that now means is the average woman working full-time in Australia now earns $135 a week more than when we came to office and under the tax plan will get a tax cut of almost $2000 a year,” he said.

“That is why we’ve managed to get the gender pay gap to the lowest level it has ever been recorded – but as far as this government is concerned, that job is not yet done, there’s more to go to make sure we eliminate that gender pay gap.”

The pay gap data will be available on the Workplace Gender Equality Agency’s website in the morning.

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