Today is Equal Pay Day, a day that marks how many days from the end of the financial year it would take for women to earn the same average pay as men. This year it was an extra 56 days.
The Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) has chosen this day as a way to promote discussion and continue the fight for gender pay balance.
Recent Australian Bureau of Statistics data suggests that the pay gap is at an all-time low, currently sitting at 13 per cent. While this is certainly good news, there is still more that can be done if we’re to witness any real equity in the future.
“This momentum is a springboard for renewed action for employers to prioritise gender equality and ensure that we continue to work towards closing the gender pay gap,” said Mary Wooldridge, WGEA chief executive.
According to WGEA, employers can begin to make a difference by recognising the drivers behind the gender pay gap. While past research has shown that the main driver behind the gap is gender discrimination, the Diversity Council Australia (DCA) says that a new factor is driving the divide: Flexible working.
According to DCA’s upcoming Inclusion@Work report, 57 per cent of men reported using flexible work options in the past year, compared with 72 per cent of women. This highlights a 15 per cent gender flex gap, which has reportedly remained unchanged since 2019.
With flexible working comes better access to caregiver responsibilities, which DCA accounts for 33 per cent of the gender pay gap, making it the second most prominent cause. Providing more men with flexible working could help to reduce these issues, says DCA.
“Better access to flexible working conditions don’t only make workplaces more accessible for carers, they also help to encourage men to take on more caring duties, which we know disproportionately fall to women,” said DCA chief executive Lisa Annese.
“In order to address Australia’s gender pay gap, we need to address the gender flex gap. Workplaces play a significant role in addressing the gendered stigma on flex work and encouraging their employees to share the care.”
More men participating in caring duties would help to reduce the gender pay gap, says DCA. According to its latest report, flexible working was often considered feminine and associated with care work. Breaking this stigma and providing equal opportunities can help to create equality in the workplace.
Men who took advantage of flexible working were found to be more likely to face negative treatment than women. Thirty-seven per cent of men reported this, compared to just 24 per cent of women. Meanwhile, 38 per cent of women reported accessing flexible working, compared to just 21 per cent of men.
Breaking down these barriers falls on employers to offer these opportunities. Men can also do their part, as DCA is encouraging them to ‘share the care’.
The term "gender pay gap" refers to the customarily higher average incomes and salaries that men receive over women.