Wrap up of Gender Equality forum

With Australia’s gender pay gap at its lowest in 20 years, some may ask why we still need to talk about pay parity in our workplaces.

While it’s true that significant steps forward have been made, there is still more work to do. Currently, the pay gap between men and women hovers at around 14.6 per cent – a gap that widens even further when it comes to senior management. To shed some light on this complex issue, NEEOPA invited three highly-regarded practitioners – each championing equality in their various industries – to share their wisdom with us.

Here’s what we learnt:

1. Reaching the Magic Zero requires leadership

Last year Australia Post became the largest organisation in the country to report gender parity for their 35,000 employees. Jayne Ward, Group Head of Performance, Talent & Rewards, spoke about the long road towards parity, which began when the company’s previous CEO, Ahmed Fahour, realised Australia Post needed more women in management. She shared initiatives such as:

  • The Elevate program, which helps senior women leaders build confidence

  • Project Me, an initiative to help Award level women in their personal life

  • Networks such as Ignite (Women in IT) and Women in Finance

Initiatives need to be transparent and leadership must get involved – for example, each manager should have access to pay structure data so they can decrease the gap at every level. Jayne also reflected that while Australia Post has achieved great things on a grassroots level, there is more the organisation can do to support women, especially in senior management.

2. Achieving parity is a 6-step process

Helen Karatasas, Education Delivery Manager at WGEA, works with employers to create meaningful change. Although achieving pay parity is a long-term process, Helen helpfully provided participants with a 6-step process that can help organisations address pay equity. It includes:

  • Awareness and Understanding – know the gender composition of your workforce, as “even if you think there is no gap, do the numbers; they will surprise you”.

  • Building a business case – obtain high level support by articulating gender parity as an ethical obligation that also impacts reputation and brand.

  • Gain leadership commitment – leaders must demonstrate their commitment for initiatives to have any traction.

  • Data Analysis – For actions to be meaningful, organisation must identify gaps and crunch the numbers – the WGEA’s pay gap calculator is a useful tool

  • Strategy and Action – develop an overall strategy for pay equity, with KPIs given to each manager. Be sure to prioritise correcting a ‘like for like’ gender pay gap.

  • Review and refine – Review all structures to ensure men and women are at the same level, offer key enablers (flexibility, career development) and be vigilant in monitoring pay gaps.

You can find out more about the process here on the WGEA website, which also features online tools to assist organisations. Helen's PowerPoint presentation can be found here.

3. Become Pay Equity Ambassador

Alison Monroe, National Director of RiseSmart (Australia, New Zealand, Singapore), shared how her organisation is working hard to close the pay gaps. To help achieve this, she is a Pay Equity Ambassador with the WGEA, joining other CEOs and leaders around Australia in signing a Pay Equity Pledge and working towards zero pay gap. “It is the organisation’s responsibility – and our responsibility as leaders – to ensure we work to achieve gender parity,” says Alison.

4. Keep leadership engaged and address resistance with facts

According to Jayne, it all comes back to the data. Keep it consistently updated and use facts to win hearts and minds across your organisation. “If you have the evidence, you can make the change,” she says. Alison adds, “We need women and men at the same table on all levels. Most men are surprised that the pay gap exists. Jayne is right: we need to ask the questions, have the conversations and be the change.”

Note: we were due to have Rob Sturrock join us today as a speaker, but he could not attend due to family reasons, we hope he can join us at a future NEEOPA forum.

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