With women currently earning on average 16.2 per cent less than their male colleagues, KPMG Australia has released a report detailing how this is worsening.
KPMG Australia people, performance and culture national managing partner Susan Ferrier said while work experience, on-the-job training and educational qualifications are all contributing to this, there is one factor in particular putting downward pressure on women’s wages.
“Critically, [that] also includes labour market discrimination – where skilled individuals may face different earning potential and employment opportunities due to discrimination by gender, values and culture,” Ms Ferrier said.
This systemic discrimination is becoming more widespread, according to KPMG’s analysis, contributing 38 per cent of the gap in 2016.
Workplace Gender Equality Agency director Libby Lyons said the research should act as a rallying call to businesses.
“Clearly we need to redouble our efforts to address the gender pay gap. And while organisations can do a lot to close the gap in their individual workplaces, there are structural inequities between industries and in the wider economy which must also be addressed. Business, government and the wider community all have a role to play,” Ms Lyons said.
To this end, the report includes a section titled ‘The Executive Companion’, detailing how businesses can mature their position on addressing the gender pay gap.
It instructs businesses to identify the level of disparity between the genders in their particular sector, how to increase on-the-job training and networking for women, and the importance of encouraging good workplace culture.
Importantly, it also encourages businesses to focus on how they can retain employees who take time out of the workplace for child-bearing, while ensuring their return is sustainable.
“While the research reveals outcomes which are disappointing, we need to keep talking about this challenging issue. It would be easy to stop talking because it seems too hard. Many Australian businesses are showing great commitment to diversity and inclusion programs and we have seen some fantastic examples of innovative programs and strong leadership addressing the gap,” Ms Ferrier said.
“We need more purposeful, impactful action.”