31 Aug 2021

Gender pay gap shows no improvement in last year

10:01 am on 31 August 2021

The gender pay gap has not improved over the past year despite an increased awareness and industry resolve to do something about it.

Most retirees will eventually rely on superannuation.

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An analysis by consultancy Strategic Pay's has identified a lack of improvement in gender pay gap levels in the wake of the pandemic.

Data gathered from more than 180,000 employees identified an overall fixed-pay gap of 18.5 percent, slightly higher than last year.

Strategic Pay managing director Cathy Hendry said many businesses imposed pay freezes or restraints over the past year, or gave only a standard percentage wage increases across the board.

"In the event of the latter, of course that's meant any existing pay gap will have increased to that same degree," Hendry said.

She said the growing problem was most obvious at the top level of large businesses, with the gap between women and men chief executives rising to 28 percent from 19 percent over the past year.

"This is not just a reflection of the fact that fewer women are moving into these senior roles overall, but also that those who do are generally within the health, education or public sectors," Hendry said.

"These 'caring professions', as they're known, tend to pay considerably less than traditionally male-dominated industries such as IT or engineering - which have also seen pay levels rise even more in recent months as ongoing border closures cause significant skills shortages."

She said women working in caring professions were often in lower-level, customer-facing roles, which were undervalued by the market, and offered more limited opportunities for progression.

"It really is a perfect storm. This challenge of occupational and vertical segregation - or where women are working - is why tackling remuneration alone will never be enough to address the overall challenge of pay equity."

Overall, the study found the private sector continued to experience the greatest level of pay disparity, with a fixed remuneration pay gap of nearly 21 percent, which was up slightly from last year's 20 percent.

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