World of HR: Australia will face its 13% gender pay gap

A new law requires employers with more than 100 employees to disclose pay disparities.
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Francis Scialabba

· 3 min read

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“Mom, I am a rich man,” Cher famously said when her mother told her to settle down and find a wealthy husband. But after looking at pay disparity reports, it seems that many women still don’t have the financial power of their male counterparts.

Gender pay disparities are a persistent conundrum around the world, according to Quartz. As debate about the best way to rectify the problem rages on, some countries are enacting new legislation to mandate better transparency.

Where in the world? Down under, where giant spiders reign supreme, the Australian Parliament passed new legislation aimed at reducing gender pay disparities.

For those of you thinking, “Wait, doesn’t Australia already do this?” you’re sort of correct. The new legislation is an update to the 2012 Workplace Gender Equality Act, which required employers to submit pay information to the government. That information is distilled based on industry, and made publicly available. But the progress on pay has stalled, and currently sits at 13.3%, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The new Workplace Gender Equality Amendment Bill 2023 will publicize previously private company data. Starting in early 2024, gender pay gaps will be published via the government website. Furthermore, employers will be required to report on sexual harassment and gender discrimination. “These reforms will improve transparency, accountability, and motivate action to accelerate progress on gender equality in workplaces,” according to the government site.

Workers and job-seekers will be able to examine how companies are progressing towards pay equity, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. “Publishing employer gender pay gaps will provide [workers] deeper insights on their employer’s progress, while job-seekers can get a clearer indication of a prospective employer’s commitment to ensuring the contributions of all employees are equally valued and rewarded,” Mary Wooldridge, chief executive at the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, told the paper.

Satellite view. The international average pay gap is 12%, according to OECD. Other countries have enacted somewhat similar legislation over the last decade, including Japan, Ireland, Iceland, and Denmark.

The US is in the midst of its own pay transparency journey, although on a state by state scale. California, Maryland, and New York have instituted pay transparency regulations so far, with Michigan, Massachusetts, and South Carolina potentially adopting this year.

Despite this apparent progress, Pew Research recently found that women’s earnings have stalled over the last 20 years. Moody’s Analytics argues that larger societal shifts will have to change to remove the gaps; the financial services company wrote, “Shifting social norms is a lengthy and complex process, but politics such as enforcing flexible working conditions, providing affordable childcare, and providing paid paternity and paternity leave help to drive change in the right direction,” CNBC reported.

We still bet Cher stands by her quote though.—KP

HR is challenging. HR news doesn’t have to be.

News built to help HR pros grow their impact & improve the future of work.