Last week the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) in partnership with the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC), released their yearly insights into the gender pay gap in Australian workplaces. This years findings predicted a 26 year long wait before the gender pay gap is closed - a gap that many, including myself, are not prepared to accept.
I totally understand where gender pay ‘apathy’ is coming from, when it takes so long and is so culturally ingrained, it can feel easier to simply give in and live with status quo because frankly, it’s just too hard.
But imagine if past generations of gender equity advocates who bravely fought for women’s right to work had done that, I shudder to think of where we would be now?
It’s easy to forget it was only in 1966 that the ‘marriage bar’ which prevented married women from working was abolished by the Commonwealth Public Service - a law that was introduced in the 1900’s to keep women from "stealing" men's jobs and to boost the birth rate. This resulted in many women keeping their marriages a secret just so they could work!
We cannot stop fighting for equal pay now. We have a duty to future generations to fight to abolish gender discrimination at every level in society and in every workplace. Real action is needed to close the pay gap.
So what does this look like on the ground for organisations?
- setting clear gender targets,
- working to remove gender bias from hiring decisions
- enabling real workplace flexibility
- nurturing the development of females into leadership positions; and
- paid parental leave schemes that see REAL results.
15 years ago I founded Parents At Work to advocate for these issues. I knew it would be a tough journey, but it cannot be another 26 years until we reach gender parity.
From Director of WGEA, Libby Lyons:
"As we navigate our economic recovery in the wake of a global pandemic, one thing is clear – we cannot afford to be complacent. Without ambition, target setting and consistency, we risk seeing a decline in all our hard-won gains in workplace gender equality. This in my view is simply unacceptable. All Australian employers must ACT now".
You can download the full report and insights from WGEA here
Founder & CEO, Parents At Work