A report into workplace gender equality has revealed the pay gap has decreased but organisations have called for more to be done to address the ongoing disparity.
The Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) dataset showed a steady increase in the number of women in management roles and strong growth in employer action in areas such as gender equality policies, pay equity and flexible work.
However, Plan International Australia found a significant discrepancy between what girls aspire to in early life and what they think is realistic for them to achieve as they become young adults due to constant exclusion from certain opportunities.
Plan International CEO, Susanne Legena, said: “Businesses and their leaders have a key role to play in stamping out inequality. It is not enough for businesses to report on the pay gap – girls and women want and need action. We aren’t perfect, and we are looking at where we can improve. This requires will and leadership from businesses.”
The WGEA data showed that pay gaps still favour men in every occupation and every industry and on average, women earn 79 per cent of men’s full-time total remuneration salaries. The five-year data trend showed virtually no movement in gender segregation across Australian industries and little improvement in women in CEO levels.
Although data highlighted an increase in the number of women in management roles and the biggest single-year drop down of the pay gap, WGEA Agency Director, Libby Lyons, said women still face considerable barriers in workplaces.
“Although the gender pay gap has narrowed every year, progress is slow. Access to parental leave has not improved, with the provision of paid primary carer’s leave actually going backwards. The glass wall persist in industry segregation, which remains deeply entrenched in Australia,” Lyons said.
“The first five years of data shows where we are seeing positive change and where we need to make more effort. We now need even more employers to take action so that we can accelerate the momentum for gender equality in Australian workplaces.”
Plan International’s research found that as girls get older, their confidence decreases and 40 per cent of girls think gender is the biggest barrier to becoming a leader.
“As a female CEO and leader, I find this very disappointing,” Legena said. “We are all responsible for creating the conditions in which girls feel safe and supported to take risks and excel, not only in the workplace but also in the wider world.”
To improve data collecting and reporting, the Coalition government has invested $8 million in WGEA to upgrade its systems. Minister for Women, Kelly O’Dwyer, said it will further improve gender equality in workplaces, and in turn help the economy.
“While women in the Australian workforce have come a long way, on average they still earn less than men. It is important to continue to improve the data available so we can identify and address sources of gender inequality in the workplace,” O’Dwyer said.