Monday, 4 September was Equal Pay Day, on which the Australian Bureau of Statistics released average weekly earnings data in 2016.
Using that data, the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) calculated a national gender pay gap of 15.3 per cent, with men earning $1,638.30 on average per week, and women earning $1,387.10 on average per week.
In the accounting industry, the pay gap is larger than the national average, coming in at 21.1 per cent for full-time total remuneration, despite 52.2 per cent of employees in accounting services being female.
Paul Hilton, who is the chair of Walker Wayland Australasia and CEO of Walker Wayland member firm Power Tynan, told Accountants Daily that he believes there shouldn’t be any differentiation in pay between males and females.
“Accounting firms are no different to any other profession or industry, whether you're male or female you should be treated equally if you've got the experience and the expertise and you should be paid accordingly,” he said.
When pushed on his own network's approach, Mr Hilton said that at Walker Wayland Australasia, and Power Tynan in particular, there is no gender pay gap.
“We do not differentiate at all between the male and female wages. If they're on the same level and they're performing the same tasks and responsibilities, they get exactly the same wage, there is no differentiation at all,” he said.
“Obviously, we're a regional practice, we may be a little bit different to city firms, but from my understanding, within our network of member firms, I don't believe there is any differentiation between male and female wages.”
Mr Hilton believes that it is most likely at the larger firms where these gaps exist.
“Walker Wayland Australasia is a network of small to medium-sized firms, we're not talking about the big end of town, it may be a little bit different there,” he said.
The WGEA report also revealed that in accounting services 72.7 per cent of employers have a formal policy or formal strategy on remuneration generally.
However only 33.3 per cent of accounting services employers reported having specific gender pay equity objectives included in their formal policy or formal strategy, down from 36 per cent in 2015.
Mr Hilton has called on the leaders of accounting firms, particularly those of larger firms, to abolish any gender pay gaps that currently exist by being proactive on the matter.
“It comes back to the leadership and the ownership of the firm, they should be actively making sure there is no discrimination between the sexes. If they're doing the work and they have the same responsibility and everything else, they should get exactly the same wage,” he said.
“They should be very proactive in their approach, and it might take some time for the larger firms to bring that into play but it needs to happen, because everyone should be treated equally.”