Gender Gap


Friday 25 August 2023 marks Equal Pay Day. The date is significant: it falls 56 days after the end of the financial year, which is the number of extra days a woman has to work in order to be paid the same as the average man. The stats are revealing. According to the ABS, average weekly earnings in May this year for full-time work in the public sector were $2,122.90 for men and $1,897.70 for women. In the private sector, the gap was even larger, with men earning $1,905 per week on average; women earned almost $300 less at $1,605.30 on average for a full-time working week. And it’s not just individuals who are losing out. According to a 2022 report by KPMG, it is estimated that the gender pay gap costs the Australian economy $51.8 billion each year.

Why does such gender inequality still exist today more than 50 years after the Equal Pay Act of 1969, when women were granted equal pay for equal work? There is obviously a lot of work to be done, and individual businesses can make an important contribution to the change. How can businesses help to close the gender pay gap? Here are four ways:

Build a business case for promoting gender equality

This is the first step for any business that is serious about improving the gender pay gap. In a nutshell, it involves identifying the benefits of gender equality to your organisation, analysing your current position, designing a suitable strategy, implementing an action plan, and then reviewing it at regular intervals. The Workplace Gender Equality Agency has a handy toolkit to get you started.

Set gender targets

The glass ceiling still exists with women underrepresented in the higher echelons of company structures. In the latest AICD Gender Diversity Report, the proportion of women directors on boards on the ASX 300 now stands at 35.6%. Although the figure is heralded as an “all-time high”, it should be noted that 11 ASX 300 boards have no women directors and 33 have just one. Setting realistic gender targets for different areas of your business, not just at the highest level, can be an important step to helping women achieve parity with men, including equal pay.

Remove gender bias from your recruitment & selection process

Making your business attractive to women applicants can help generate a pipeline of talent. Question is: Are you sending out the right message? Are women at different levels of the organisation featured on your company website and socials? Are they represented on the board? You may also want to consider the language you use in your job ads. Women can be deterred from applying by wording like “independent and goal-oriented culture”. They might be more drawn by “a shared culture of inclusivity, loyalty and trust”. You can read more about biased language here. Taking a closer look at your selection processes for gender bias, including pay offered to men and women, is also important.

Offer flexible work options

Too often, working parents – invariably women – have to choose between building a rewarding career or settling for a lower-paid position. Part-time, hybrid or work-from-home opportunities can enable individual employees to successfully juggle their job and life outside work. But in order for these options to work effectively, both men and women should be able to access flexible work without negative consequences. And that may take a change of mindset in your business as well as outside it.

Pay is one part of a much bigger picture. On Equal Pay Day, take the time to reflect on your business’s approach to gender equality as a whole. Do women stand on an equal footing with men or is now the time to take affirmative action?

The professional team at Optimal Recruitment can help you recruit more women to your company. Contact us today on or 02 8416 4181.