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Sunday, July 3, 2022

‘Hard truths’ on pay gap for Aussie women require urgent addressing

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Bosses and governments are being urged to close the pay gap for women to attract the best talent and make workplaces fairer.

Many Australians (47 per cent) believe it is the Federal Government’s responsibility to confront the problem, followed by employers (16 per cent), according to research released today (Monday) ahead of International Women’s Day.

The pay gap has barely shifted for decades despite social change and well-meaning governments, with the difference between average weekly full-time earnings of men and women now 22.8 per cent.

The research commissioned by Aware Super, one of Australia’s largest superannuation funds, found 90 per cent of women believe the gender pay gap is unfair.

But only 70 per cent of men found it so.

“It’s a hard truth that in Australia, women are paid nearly $30,000 less than men each year,” Aware CEO Deanne Stewart said.

“It’s a hard truth that women retire with around half the superannuation of men.”

Despite the gap, women own a powerful $1.2 trillion in superannuation and they dominate in funds serving healthcare, hospitality and the public sector – which is why their funds are vocal about change.

The Australian Retirement Trust – the recently merged QSuper and Sunsuper – is the women’s superannuation savings leader with $103 billion owned by women.

Stewart said with unemployment at historical lows, companies must take action to attract and retain talent.

Men are earning more than their female peers in every occupation, which results in women retiring on 42 per cent less super on average than men.

Aware Super is calling for every employer to have a policy on gender pay equity and publish it, so employees across Australia know which companies support fair pay.

More than half (52 per cent) of those who have taken a break from work, usually to care for children, say this has impacted their earnings potential, according to the research.

There was also a drop in confidence (40 per cent) and damage to career progression (36 per cent).

Amid a groundswell for change, last year’s federal budget promised a review of workplace gender equality measures, which was released on Friday along with 10 recommendations.

“This review comes at a critical time – there is real momentum for change towards achieving gender equality,” Minister for Women Marise Payne said.

The Equality Rights Alliance of women’s organisations said the recommendations for setting stronger minimum standards for large employers and collecting new data would drive progress.

ERA Convenor Helen Dalley-Fisher said workers could potentially compare workplaces when making decisions about applying for jobs or negotiating pay rates.

Ahead of this month’s federal budget, there are also calls for super to be levied on all paid parental leave as a significant way of closing the retirement gap.


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