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by Kris Grant - July 20, 2024

How women can secure gender pay parity


Equalising pay between men and women should be a priority for all employers as we head towards International Women’s Day on 8 March. With the theme of #EmbraceEquity, now is the time for women to act and demand equal wages for equal work to overcome the wage gap in Australia, which is one of the widest in the developed world.

Many of you may not know it, but the pay disparity between men and women in Australia is much wider than it is in New Zealand, the UK, Germany, Italy and France and many other European nations. The gender wage gap is defined by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) as the difference between the median earnings of men and women relative to median earnings of men.

According to the most recent data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the median wage for a man working full-time was $1,390.00 in May 2021 and just $1,042.00 for women. That represents a wage gap of around 25 per cent between men and women. Looking at average wages (rather than the median level), the chart below highlights that Australia’s gender wage gap sat at around 16 per cent in 2021, one of the biggest in the OECD, and wider than the OECD average of around 12 per cent.

Below are some basic steps women can take to demand pay parity from their employers in 2023. By taking small steps now, women can seek gradual improvements in their level of pay, which can help to close the wage gap over time.

Tip 1: Demand pay transparency

Pay transparency enables companies and other organisations to identify and address gender pay gaps in their organisations. When employers publish information about the pay and benefits of all employees, it becomes easier to detect discrepancies between the salaries of men and women working in the same position. This can deliver valuable information to women in their negotiations for fair pay.

Tip 2: Ask for a wage audit

A related point is to ask your HR department to implement a pay audit. By conducting wage audits and making pay information public, companies may face greater pressure to address any gender pay gaps that exist. Large Australian employers (non-public sector employers with 100 or more employees) must conduct wage audits under federal law and report the results to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) annually on a set of gender equality indicators. However, this law doesn’t extend to smaller employers. So, if your employer does not conduct a wage audit, ask your HR department to conduct one. The more pressure women apply on their employers to conduct a wage audit, the more likely they will do so. A gender pay audit and pay equity action plan are key features of best practice talent management and upholding fairness in the workplace.

Tip 3: Assert your rights

Women have the right to demand pay equality from their employers. It is a basic right to receive equal pay for equal work. But if you don’t ask, many employers will not offer. So, if you believe you are being paid less than a male peer, contact your employer’s human resources department and they will be compelled to listen. Women have been silent for too long, and it is only by demanding gender pay parity that it will be achieved. If you are lacking confidence, please reach out to either a coach or a mentor to support you in your quest for equal pay.

Tip 4: Outline your value to your employer

To back your demand for gender pay equality, you should research comparable salaries being paid for similar roles in the jobs market. Speak to a recruitment consultant and gather data. If you’re paid much less than the market, which includes men’s salaries, that’s not equitable practice, and it could point to a gender wage gap. That’s powerful evidence to present to your employer when asking for a pay rise and demanding pay equality.

Tip 5: Keep on demanding pay equality

The chances are that your employer may not want to disclose other people’s salaries or even close the wages just yet. Given the gender pay gap is so wide, and women make up around 50 per cent of the workforce, it would hurt their bottom line hard to equalise pay packets. The gender wage gap has been around for a long time, and it reflects long-held biases in workplace cultures and recruitment practices. If you don’t get pay equality this time, ask the next time you ask for a pay rise; it is only by asserting your rights for equal work, equal pay that the gender wage gap will close.

Kris Grant is the chief executive of ASPL Group, a management consultancy, training and recruitment firm focused on aligning people, processes and systems. For the past nine years, Mr Grant has overseen ASPL Group’s management consulting, training and recruitment divisions to deliver major transformational projects, strategic leadership training, and personnel resourcing to improve business functions and increase productivity across Australian workplaces.

This article originally featured in HR Leader