gender pay gap

What the Gender Pay Gap Really Means?

Last month, the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) released its gender pay gap data, highlighting on its website some of the big winners and losers in pay disparity between genders.

Reporting is currently only required for businesses with more than 100 staff (this includes corporate structures where the combined number of employees across all entities is 100+). CEO and Head of Business remuneration is excluded in this year’s data but will become required next year.

The Federal Government’s Workplace Gender Equality Amendment (Closing the Gender Pay Gap) Bill 2023 highlights significant gaps between males and females in pay and workforce composition. It prompts employers to actively introduce policies to identify and remove gender bias and/or other barriers.

Much of the reported information is now publicly available on the WGEA website, including the ability to drill down to industry data and individual companies.


It’s not about men and women being paid the same for doing the same job …

… that has been a legal requirement since the late 60’s.

The gender pay gap percentage is a national measure of how, as a country, we value the contribution of men and women in the workforce. It aims to drive industries and businesses to challenge their approach to gender equality, particularly if a business is highlighted as having significant gaps between males and females in pay and workforce composition.

The current data shows that women in Australia earn, on average, 21.7% less than men. It was at 30% ten years ago when WGEA first started gathering data and releasing information on gender pay inequality.

Interestingly, across every industry, the remuneration gender pay gap percentage is in favour of males. Accommodation and Food Services has a very low 1.9%, and the construction industry has a 31.8%.

Reporting the numbers transparently aims to put the spotlight on generalisations regarding gender, i.e.:

  • Women want part-time roles so they can look after their children. As opposed to creating workplaces that support family-friendly career development for all employees regardless of gender. OR
  • This industry has always been male-dominated—that’s just how it is. But rather than focusing on gender perceptions, we need to break down what we can do as a recruitment strategy in our industry to raise female participation rates and what the blockers are.

With the information being published on the WGEA’s website, businesses may need to be proactive in the coming years. Also, the need to provide staff with information regarding results before publication.

The published data could provoke concern amongst current or potential staff and customers. (Note much of the media commentary surrounding women’s clothing brands and many of the private girl’s schools data). On the flip side, it also allows businesses to highlight positive aspects of the data or any trends that can be identified that show progress in eliminating pay gaps.

Businesses will also be able to compare their data with other employers and/or their industry as a whole. Again, this could prove a competitive advantage if their gender pay gap is ‘neutral’ or, better still, less than their competitors’.


Businesses should challenge themselves to strategically articulate why a senior management role (including that of the CEO) can’t be part-time.

A standard formula calculates the gender Pay Gap:

GPG formula

Some clear trends from the WGEA data include: Employers with more women in key management positions are more likely to have a neutral gender gap (-5% to +5%). If the CEO of a company is a woman, this will reduce the gender pay gap. Businesses with a gender balance in management positions (between 40% and 60% female-to-male ratio) are twice as likely to have a neutral gender pay gap than those with less than 20% female management roles.


I have less than 100 staff – why do I need to worry about this data?

As with many government reporting requirements, they start with the larger businesses and then introduce reporting obligations to all businesses. Whether reporting to WGEA or not, calculating and comparing salaries offers great value.

Even without looking at your salary data, all businesses should look at introducing initiatives to improve gender equality:

  • Having transparent remuneration policies and practices recognises and values all skills within your business.
  • Consider pre-conceived ideals that specific roles have to be full-time.
  • Consider flexible working arrangements for all employees and all positions. Ensure all employees have access to meaningful and quality work.
  • Ensure all staff have access to the same training and promotional opportunities.
  • Support women in returning to work after parental leave and taking steps to minimise disruption to their career progress.
  • Create family-friendly policies to support male staff in taking time/adjusting work hours for carer responsibilities.
  • Consider any unconscious biases, issues, or areas that could be improved, addressed, or eliminated.


Reach out if you want to know more – [email protected]

W | dfkanz.com

T | 1300 DFK ANZ (1300 335 269)

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