How to maintain the (out)rage about gender inequality

The 31st August is Equal Pay Day 2018 for Australia. Whilst our national gender pay gap has reached its lowest level in 20 years at 14.6%, there are still 62 additional days from the end of the previous financial year that women must work to earn the same pay as men.

Whether women are at the top or the bottom of the corporate pyramid, they suffer a pay gap.  In the U.K., women CEOs earn less than half as much as their male counterparts, according to research from the Chartered Management Institute.  Total pay including bonuses, pensions and perks averaged £5.8 million for male CEOs in 2017 compared with only £2.6 million for women CEOs, a pay gap of 55% at the top of British businesses.

A comparison of the highest-paid U.K. male CEO of Persimmon, Jeff Fairburn, earning £47 million with the highest-paid female CEO, Emma Walmsley of GlaxoSmithKline, at £4.9 million, underscores this disparity .  The study showed that unequal salaries began at the base pay of the CEOs at 11%, which jumped to 35% for bonuses, and 75% for long-term share incentives

Persimmon CEO Jeff Fairburn and GlaxoSmithKline CEO Emma Walmsley

The U.K. is not alone in paying women CEOs less than men.  In the US, women CEO earnings were 79.5% of males with the CEO title, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

We have seen in recent times governments legislating in an attempt to eliminate the gender pay gap. Iceland, France and Germany elected not to rely on companies to institute equitable pay, so companies are required to report salary levels of male and female staff.  A similar bill is currently pending in Switzerland, which would require companies with more than 100 employees to publicly release the salary data for male and female employees.  Of course, the Workplace Gender Equality Agency in Australia has been gathering this data from employers in Australia for some years.

Libby Lyons, Director of WGEA, said Equal Day Pay is still an important reminder that women continue to face significant barriers in the workplace, particularly in terms of pay.

“The gender pay gap is a symptom of a broader issue. It reflects the fact that women’s work is traditionally undervalued and women are often paid less than men. Average full-time salaries are lower for women than men in every occupation and industry in Australia. Women are under-represented in senior executive and management roles and female-dominated occupations and industries attract lower pay than male-dominated ones.”

The challenge is how leaders can take action to address one of the most significant inequities for women in the workplace.

Four Actions for Leaders to Take

  1. Undertake a pay audit across your organisation;
  2. Analyse the data to identify gendered pay inequities;
  3. Take action to rectify individual gaps;
  4. Put systems and processes in place to prevent a recurrence.

I also highly recommend checking out the WGEA guide for employers and employees about how to take action on closing the gender pay gap.

This article was adapted from an article published by Globe Women

If your organisation is serious about building a gender action plan that is enduring and sustainable, please contact Michelle for further advice. Michelle Redfern BIO 600x300