Equal Pay Day 2021

31 August 2021

Frances Crimmins

Frances Crimmins

Frances is the CEO of YWCA Canberra.

Today is Equal Pay Day 2021. But it is not a time to celebrate.

Equal Pay Day is on 31 August this year to mark the 61 additional days from the end of last financial year that women must work, on average, to earn the same amount as men earned in that year.

Unfortunately, as with many other gender-equality measures, progress to reduce the gender pay gap has reversed during the pandemic. Over the last year, the national pay gap has grown slightly to 14.2 per cent for full-time employees, a difference of $261.50 each week.

The gender pay gap is a measure of the barriers women face in the workforce. This discrimination harms women’s careers, their financial stability and their long-term financial sustainability.

To quote the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA): “Closing the pay gap is about fairness: the work of Australian women deserves to be equally and fairly valued in our workplaces.”

The factors that contribute to the gender pay gap are well known and documented, including lower pay rates in women-dominated industries, a lack of workplace flexibility combined with women still being expected to take on more unpaid care duties, and discrimination and bias in hiring, pay decisions and promotions.

These are factors we can address. Yet the national pay gap has been hovering around the 14 per cent mark for years. Every industry in Australia has a pay gap favouring full-time working men. And too many people in leadership still deny the existence or significance of this gap, leading to a lack of action.

For this to change, governments and the business community need to take active steps toward gender equality. Organisations can start by undertaking the steps in WGEA’s Guide to gender pay equity.

As a WGEA Pay Equity Ambassador and an employer in the early childhood education and care sector—a low-paid, women-dominated industry—I am continuing to fight for recognition of the professionalism of the sector and for better pay and conditions for the many educators who help children have the best start possible.

Our She Leads program continues to break down barriers to women’s economic participation by equipping the next generation of women leaders, from all sectors and industries, with the skills and confidence they need to reach their leadership potential.

We also create a pipeline of skilled women leaders through our Board Traineeship program (which is currently open for nominations). With definitive evidence that gender-balanced leadership in an organisation delivers better company performance, improved productivity and greater profitability, I call on organisations to implement their own pathways to ensure more women are represented in leadership. One method is through a Board Traineeship Program like our own, and organisations can use our Bringing on Board publication to help develop and implement such a program.

At YWCA Canberra, we will continue to ensure both internally and with our community to address the causes of the gender pay gap. But we need the entire nation to get on board to solve this problem. I ask all of you to consider concrete actions you can take towards making a fairer workplace for Australian women.

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