The gender pay gap gets a lot of press. However, it doesn’t get the same amount of action. The gender pay gap in Australia has teetered between 14 – 19% for over twenty years. What is it going to take to move this from conversation to action? One word. Leadership!
There is irrefutable evidence that the gender pay gap exists in Australia. However every time I post on social media or write an article about the existence of the gender pay gap, I will receive at least a couple of messages or emails either disputing that the pay gap exists or questioning why women deserve to be paid equally. Or worse (trolls!) My response to this reaction ranges from having a #facepalm moment right through to being infuriated. The inequity women face is the situation that drives me, but the outright discrimination and in some cases misogyny, is what really upsets me. But I carry on nonetheless.
Leading from the front on issues that matter, like equality, is familiar territory for me. Lets face it, it’s what I do for a living. Now, I want it to be familiar territory for more of us. Every single person can make a difference, however, for those of us in the privileged position of leadership, we have the opportunity to consider how we can be mindful, deliberate and purposeful about pay equality.
Easy to say and obvious to some, but some say more difficult to tackle. When men take home $26,527 (15.3%) a year more than women, for similar work, then there is an endemic problem and from a business leaders perspective, a problem that must be tackled.
Cause and Effect
The gender pay gap is influenced by a number of factors, including:
- discrimination and bias in hiring and pay decisions
- women and men working in different industries and different jobs, with female-dominated industries and jobs attracting lower wages
- women’s disproportionate share of unpaid caring and domestic work
- lack of workplace flexibility to accommodate caring and other responsibilities, especially in senior roles
- women’s greater time out of the workforce impacting career progression and opportunities.
– Source WGEA
The impact of closing the gender pay gap is women’s poverty rates decreasing from ~8% to ~3% and the number of children of women in poverty being reduced by more than half.
Closing the gender pay gap is good for the economy too. A report by academic Rebecca Cassells suggests that the gender wage gap has a substantial effect on Australia’s economic performance. If the gender wage gap was eliminated entirely, there would be a $93 billion or 8.5 per cent positive kick to GDP. $93B!
Anyone who has worked with me at Advancing Women, read my posts or social media knows that I am high on action and low on conversation. Especially when there is fairness, equity and $93B at stake! With that in mind, here is what leaders can do to address gendered financial inequality in their environment:
- Who is paid what? Time to gather facts and data. Look at your employees performing like for like roles and compare their wages. Then compare this against their gender. Whats the gap?
- Why? Invoke your curiosity or manage like a 2-year-old and ask a lot of why questions. Why do we have a gender pay gap? Why do our female employees get paid less than men? Why don’t we have equal numbers of women in leadership at all levels? Why haven’t we done something about this?
- LBWA: Leadership by walking around. Or Leadership by checking in with the people who are experiencing the pay gap. I suggest trying the 5x5x5 model.
- Select 5 women in your organisation at all levels.
- Book in 5 coffee meetings with them.
- Ask each woman 5 questions about your workplace, from their perspective.
- Contact me if you want my leaders guide.
- What if? Think about your workplace. Ask yourself:
- What if Gender Pay Equality was a high priority in your organisation?
- What if regular Gender Pay Gap audits of your workplace were conducted?
A Winning Strategy for Women
Managing and mitigating the risk that the gender pay gap represents for an organisations is of paramount importance. It’s why leaders ask me to do what I do for them. To advise them how to start or accelerate deliberate, mindful and purposeful actions that are effective. And, by effective, I mean they are crystal clear that they want to create an environment where women and men are paid fairly and equally.
The old saying is that a fish rots from the head. Leaders can choose whether their organisation is going to rot or flourish from the head. The data is clear, its irrefutable. When leaders get deliberate, mindful and purposeful about their strategy to close the gender pay gap, then everyone wins.
I’d love to talk to more leaders about how to get deliberate, mindful and purposeful about gender equality. (By the way, deliberate, mindful and purposeful is my polite code for get sh*t done about gender equality!) Contact me to discuss where your organisation is at and how I can help.