• For the first time, Workplace Gender Equality Australia (WGEA) has published the gender pay gaps of almost 5,000 private sector employers.
    For the first time, Workplace Gender Equality Australia (WGEA) has published the gender pay gaps of almost 5,000 private sector employers.
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For the first time, Workplace Gender Equality Australia (WGEA) has published the gender pay gaps of almost 5,000 private sector employers, a result of amendments made to the Workplace Gender Equality Act in March 2023. The snapshot reveals promising statistics from industries with more women in leadership and neutral gender pay gaps. Australia’s manufacturing workforce remains male-dominated across food, beverage and tobacco, with a median renumeration pay gap of 18.1 per cent, just under the national median of 19 per cent.

The WGEA published the gender pay gaps for Australian private sector employers with 100 or more employees, revealing median base salary and total remuneration employer gender pay gaps as well as the gender composition per pay quartile. The Employer Gender Pay Gaps Snapshot includes information from 4962 reporting employers, covering 4,931,902 employees.

The national picture

In every industry in Australia, the median of what a woman is paid is less than the median of what a man is paid for both base salary and total remuneration, and industries with higher pay rates tend to have higher gender pay gaps.

Nationally, the median total remuneration gender pay gap is 19 per cent. This means that over the course of a year, the median of what a woman is paid is $18,461 less than the median of what a man is paid.

Additional payments above base salary account for more than a third (37.4 per cent) of the WGEA median total remuneration gender pay gap, or $6919 each year. These additional payments – such as bonuses, overtime and sales incentives – are both more common, and larger, in male-dominated industries. They also tend to benefit employees in the highest-paid roles, who are more likely to be men.

Among all of the industries in the snapshot, the construction industry has the largest median total remuneration gender pay gap at 31.8 per cent. On the other end of the scale, accommodation and food services has the lowest at 1.9 per cent.

The manufacturing sector has a median total remuneration gender pay gap of 18.1 per cent, with women paid a median of $17,014 less than men – just under $1500 of the national median pay gap.

In the food product manufacturing industry, the median total renumeration pay gap is 12.5 per cent. In the beverage and tobacco industry, the median total renumeration pay gap is slightly higher at 13 per cent, with 77 per cent of employers stating they had a policy in place for equal renumeration.

Male-dominated vs female-dominated

Almost one third of employers have a neutral gender pay gap, with a median gender pay gap within and including -5 per cent and 5 per cent. WGEA said this was encouraging, as a gender pay gap of +/-5 per cent allows for normal business fluctuations and employee movements, while signifying that an employer has a focus on gender equality and is taking action to ensure there is gender equality at all levels of their organisation.

The largest gender pay gap in favour of men is 73.1 per cent. The largest in favour of women is –444.8 per cent.

Employees in female-dominated industries are the most likely to work for an employer with a neutral gender pay gap. Of the 1267 employers operating in female-dominated industries, 563 (44 per cent) have a neutral gender pay gap, compared to 30 per cent in mixed-gender industries and 18 per cent in male-dominated industries.

76 per cent of employers in male-dominated industries have gender pay gaps in favour of men, compared to 64 per cent in mixed-gender industries and 41 per cent in female-dominated industries. Image: WGEA
76 per cent of employers in male-dominated industries have gender pay gaps in favour of men, compared to 64 per cent in mixed-gender industries and 41 per cent in female-dominated industries. Image: WGEA

Employers in female-dominated industries are also the most likely have a gender pay gap in favour of women, while employers in male-dominated industries are more likely to have larger gaps, with a disproportionate number of employers in male-dominated industries having gender pay gaps in the top 50 per cent of employer gender pay gaps.

In the manufacturing sector, more than 70 per cent of employers have a pay gap in favour of men, 20 per cent have a neutral gender gap, and less than 8 per cent have a pay gap favouring women. In both the food product and beverage and tobacco manufacturing industries, 66 per cent of all employees are men.

Employers with 5000 or more employees are more likely to have a neutral gender pay gap, however, this is less likely if the employer is in a male-dominated industry. 

Company snapshot

Beverages company Lion, who welcomed the publication of the Workplace Gender Equality Agency's (WGEA) gender pay gap analysis, released a statement outlining its gender pay gap equality initiatives. For the last six years, Lion has maintained a less than one per cent difference in pay competitiveness for ‘like for like’ roles. Its organisation-wide gender pay gap stands at 1.4 per cent, with a median total remuneration gender pay gap of 8.4 per cent for its Australian-based team members. 

In 2016, Lion initiated a comprehensive pay gap analysis and rectified discrepancies in ‘like for like’ roles. As a result of this analysis, it delivered a $5.5 million pay rise to more than 1600 team members.In 2019, it banned questions to job candidates about their salary history in an effort to tackle the gender pay gap.  

In 2022, Lion was named as one of the WGEA Employers of Choice for Gender Equality, an evidence-based assessment on employers advancing and embedding gender equality into the workplace and business practices.

More women in leadership 

The WGEA Snapshot revealed evidence that increasing the number of women in executive leadership positions, such as directors, CEOs and key management personnel, improves company performance, productivity and profitability.

There was also a clear link between more women in leadership and a lower gender pay gap, even when the remuneration of those roles (CEOs and directors) was not included in the gender pay gap calculation.

In food product manufacturing companies, 82 per cent of board members and 91 per cent of chairs are men. In beverage and tobacco manufacturing, more women are board members (26 per cent). In the manufacturing sector overall, 90 per cent of chairs and 70 per cent of board members are men.

Employers with more women key management personnel are more likely to have a neutral gender pay gap. Image: WGEA
Employers with more women key management personnel are more likely to have a neutral gender pay gap. Image: WGEA

Employer gender pay gaps statistically decreased as the proportion of women in management increased. In the snapshot, WGEA said “the goal for employers should be gender-balance in management”, that is at least 40 per cent women and men. Employers with this gender-balance in management are twice as likely to have a neutral gender pay gap as employers with 0 per cent to 20 per cent women in management.

Additionally, boosting women in CEO and board positions can reduce the gender pay gap. CEO renumeration and board members are not included in the WGEA employer gender pay gap calculations, however, employers with a higher proportion of women on boards are more likely to have gender pay gaps in the neutral range.

Why should this information be public?

Upon publishing, WGEA stated that making gender pay gaps public “provides a deeper understanding of workplace gender equality in Australia and is an important step towards accelerating employer action on workplace gender equality.”

Gender pay gaps and the other legislative reforms have been designed to encourage employers to deploy and drive workplace policies, practices and environments that support gender equality, creating meaningful shifts in Australian workplaces.

Looking across the pond, employer gender pay gaps were first made public in the United Kingdom in 2017. Since then, employers with 250 or more employees have been required to calculate and publish their gender pay gaps. Research indicates that this initiative has brought attention and action to gender inequality both within organisations and at board level and motivated some employers to narrow their gender pay gaps.

Employer gender pay gaps and statistics and statements can be viewed on WGEA’s Data Explorer, WGEA’s interactive website and the Employer Gender Pay Gap Snapshot.

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