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Another 25 years before Australia closes gender pay gap, report says

Business

Humans could walk on Mars before all Australian men and women earn the same money for the same work, a new report on the gender pay gap suggests.

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Based on the rate of change over the past seven years, it will be 2047 before there’s full pay parity for all workers in all industries, the report warns.

The news is slightly better news for women in executive positions. They’ll only have to wait about 10 years.

And women in senior managerial roles can hope to be on par with men in 13 years, says the report by the federal government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) and the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre.

But the big picture across all industries and job levels is far worse.

Without a dramatic increase in the rate of change, the pay gap won’t completely close for another 26 years. That’s roughly a decade after NASA’s stated ambition to land astronauts on the red planet.

WEGA and the economics centre have been tracking the gap for the past seven years.

In that time the total remuneration gender pay gap – which takes into account salaries and all the add-ons like superannuation, bonuses and shift loadings – has fallen from 24.7 per cent to 20.1 per cent.

In simple terms, that means that on average, Australian women now earn one fifth less than men for the same work, instead of a quarter less seven years ago.

Report author and Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre deputy director Rebecca Cassells says things are heading in the right direction on gender equality in the workplace.

But if the average annual rate of change continues it will be a long time before the gap entirely closes.

The report found finance and insurance, utilities and mining companies were most likely to be sticking to best practices to achieve gender equity, with the resources sector winning the award for the most improved in recent years.

In contrast, businesses involved in health care and social assistance “are only a quarter as likely to adhere to best practice”, Cassells says.

She says change isn’t hard to achieve.

“It’s not rocket science. It can mean very simple things like conducting annual pay gap audits. The organisations who’ve made the most progress have done that,” Cassells says.

However, more than half of reporting organisations admitted they don’t bother with regular pay gap analysis.

WGEA director Libby Lyons says there’s clear evidence of a worrying level of apathy and indifference among many Australian employers.

She fears things won’t change at an acceptable rate until action on gender equality becomes standard business practice.

“Expecting Australian women to wait a quarter of a century for the total remuneration gender pay gap to close is unacceptable. It may well take longer if employer inertia and complacency lead to a reversal of current trends,” she says.

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