Publishing employer gender pay gaps FAQ

WGEA published the gender pay gaps for private sector employers with 100 or more employees on 27 February 2024. This website page contains answers to the most frequently asked questions regarding this process.

You can use the content menu on the left-hand side of this page to skip ahead to any specific questions you may have.

Publishing employer gender pay gaps

WGEA already publishes the gender pay gap. What’s new about what WGEA has published?

This is the first time we have published individual employer gender pay gaps.   

For the last ten years, WGEA has published the aggregate total remuneration (Footnote 1) gender pay gap for all Australian private sector employers with 100 or more employees. We also publish gender pay gaps by industry and occupation.

What does an employer’s gender pay gap tell us that national or industry figures don’t?

National and industry results for the gender pay gap are a useful comparison for the broader context of gender equality in Australia. But because it’s aggregating the data that’s reported to WGEA it can’t identify opportunities for improvement and action at the employer level.

Analysing the results of individual employers, against the context of their workforce composition and their actions in the workplace, will better inform employers and employees of the actions needed to address drivers of gender inequality at an employer level, and will help policy makers, the media and the broader public hold employers to account.

What exactly has WGEA published?

On 27 February 2024, WGEA published the following for private sector employers with 100 or more employees who have reported to WGEA:

  • Base salary and total remuneration median gender pay gaps

  • Gender composition per pay quartile

Most companies reporting to WGEA are single businesses. However, a proportion are corporate groups with multiple businesses. If some, or all, of their businesses have similar gender equality policies and strategies these businesses can report to WGEA as a 'Submission Group'. In 2024, gender pay gaps were published in the way they were submitted to WGEA in 2023 reporting.

Have you created more work for business?

No. What we have published draws on existing reporting data. Employers did not need to provide additional information to WGEA. 

Where are employer gender pay gaps published?

Employer gender pay gaps are available on WGEA’s Data Explorer, which can be accessed via WGEA’s website. This platform allows users to see the full gender equality results of an employer and compare results across employers and industries.

What data does WGEA use to calculate employer gender pay gaps?

WGEA uses the data provided to it by employers in the 2022-23 Employer Census.

This data covers 1 April 2022 to 31 March 2023. Employers select a snapshot date during that period to report on the workplace profile (gender, role, level and remuneration) of every employee.

How does WGEA calculate employer gender pay gaps?

WGEA calculates the gender pay gap using the same internationally recognised methodology for calculating a gender pay gap as we always have.

WGEA calculates the median gender pay gap using the difference in the median remuneration of men and women, divided by men’s median remuneration. This difference is reflected as a percentage or a dollar figure.

Australia calculates our gender pay gap using the same method that other countries do to get a measure of what women are paid relative to men.

What do you mean by a ‘median’ gender pay gap?

A ‘median’ is the middle of a set of numbers.

A median gender pay gap is found by lining up the pay of every man in a business in order of smallest to largest and finding the middle number in that dataset. The same is done for the pay of women in that business. A median employer gender pay gap is the difference between the median of what a man is paid and the median of what a woman is paid within the organisation.

Unlike the average, the median is not skewed by extreme values (CEO remuneration, for example), giving us a picture of typical earnings that exist within an organisation.

What do you mean by ‘the gender composition per pay quartile’?

This is the proportion of women and men in an organisation for each pay quartile.

Pay quartiles divide the women and men who work at an organisation into four groups, starting with the highest paid people in an organisation down to the lowest paid. 

Women are under-represented in higher-paying leadership and decision-making roles in Australia and over-represented in casual, part-time and fixed-term roles, which tend to be lower paid. Publishing gender composition per pay quartile uncovers not only whether an employer’s gender pay gap is being driven by gender segregation at the composition level. This can help identify areas of action for employers.

How does WGEA calculate a ‘quartile’?

Quartiles are created by sorting employees based on their total remuneration from lowest to highest, dividing the employee list into equal quarters and then calculating the percentage of women and men in each quarter.

What are the benefits of looking at gender pay gaps by median versus average, and vice versa?

Measuring gender pay gaps by median allows us to understand the remuneration experience of the typical employee at a workplace as it is not skewed by exceptionally high or low salaries.

The average gender pay gap is a good measure of the collective remuneration of a group. As the average is skewed by exceptionally high or low salaries, it will show if earnings are particularly concentrated for one gender, for example, more men in higher earning positions. 

Why have you published results by ‘submission group’?

Most of the companies reporting to WGEA are single businesses. However, some are larger corporate groups with multiple businesses. If some, or all, of these businesses have similar gender equality policies and strategies they can choose to report to WGEA as a 'Submission Group'.

Why hasn’t WGEA published average gender pay gaps?

The government’s 2023 legislative reforms will be implemented in stages.

Until now, employers voluntarily reported CEO, Head of Business and casual manager remuneration. The government’s reforms make it mandatory to report this information. However, this change requires employers to be given a one-year notice period.

This meant WGEA was not able to include CEO remuneration data in the calculations for the first release of private sector employer gender pay gaps.

CEO remuneration has a meaningful impact on the average gender pay gap calculation but is insignificant for median calculations. Therefore, to ensure future comparability, WGEA published the first set of employer gender pay gaps only by median.

In the second release of gender pay gaps, after CEO, Head of Business and casual manager remuneration data can be included in the dataset – WGEA will publish employer gender pay gaps by average as well as median.

Will WGEA publish employer gender pay gaps for the public sector?

Yes. As private and public sector organisations follow different reporting timelines, the first release of Commonwealth public sector organisation’s gender pay gaps will be in late 2024 or early 2025.

Data for Commonwealth public sector organisations will be based on 1 January 2023 – 31 December 2023 reporting.

What about the state public sector?

National Cabinet made an in-principle agreement for jurisdictions to report public sector workforce data to WGEA. WGEA continues to work with States and Territories on an approach to gender equality data collection and reporting to WGEA. 

Why will WGEA change from publishing by submission group to publishing by company ABN (individual entity) in the second round of publishing?

In 2024, gender pay gaps were published in the way employers submitted their gender equality report to WGEA (either as a submission group or as a standalone company).

In the second round of publishing, we will publish all employer gender pay gaps by company ABN

This year, my gender pay gap is a submission group result. Will WGEA’s decision to publish gender pay gaps, by company ABN, affect my result?

In the next round of publication, WGEA will publish employer gender pay gaps for each ABN within your corporate structure that employs 100 or more employees, but it will also publish an ABN for the overall parent company.

If you reported as part of a submission group this year and the ABNs in that submission group are reflective of the composition of your overall parent company, your gender pay gap will be comparable to the gender pay gap published this year.

The Gender Pay Gap

In Australia it’s illegal to pay men and women different salaries for the same work. So why do employers still have a gender pay gap?

The gender pay gap is not the same as equal pay. Equal pay is where women and men are paid the same for performing the same role or different work of equal or comparable value.

In Australia, this has been a legal requirement since 1969.

Gender pay gaps are not a direct comparison of like roles. Instead, they show the difference between the average or median pay of women and men across organisations, industries and the workforce as a whole.

Across all industries in Australia, women are earning on average less than men. Currently at 21.7%, the gender pay gap in Australia is a persistent and pervasive issue that undermines women’s earnings.

What do you hope publishing employer gender pay gaps leads to? What does success look like?

Publishing employer gender pay gaps aims to accelerate action to close the gender pay gap.

The gender pay gap is a persistent and complex problem that costs the Australian economy $50 billion every year.

Change has been slow and now is the time for action – employers need to identify what’s driving their gender pay gaps, develop and implement an action plan to address them and actively monitor progress. Our aim is for employers, policy makers, employees, the media and the general public to use this information to pressure employers to take action on workplace gender equality.

How does the publication of employer gender pay gaps directly impact women in the workforce?

Public transparency and accountability are an important part of a suite of initiatives that bring focus to issues of workplace gender equality and that can help motivate employers to take actions that drive a more equal experience for all employees.

The day-to-day experience of all employees is improved if publication leads employers to take action or to amplify action they’re already taking.

Why are there two calculations for the national gender pay gap?

Australia reports two gender pay gaps at a national level. This is because Australia has two key data sets with different information on employee remuneration. Using this data, the gender pay gap can also be broken down by state, industry and age.

WGEA's annual gender pay gap data, released in November, comes from the annual WGEA Employer Census and uses total remuneration (including superannuation, overtime, bonuses and other additional payments) for private sector employers with 100 or more employees. WGEA also annualises full-time equivalent remuneration of part-time and casual employees and includes that data in its calculation.

WGEA also calculates the national gender pay gap using the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) Average Weekly Earnings data released each year in February and August. This data includes the base salaries of full-time employees at private and public sector employers.

Calculating the gender pay gap from both data sets allows us to see trends and differences that could be used to improve workplace gender equality in Australia.

Why is the total remuneration pay gap so much bigger than the one that uses base salary?

The total remuneration gender pay gap includes superannuation, overtime, bonuses and other additional payments. These payments tend to favour men and drive a bigger gender pay gap.

The WGEA gender pay gap also includes annualised full-time equivalent earnings of part-time and casual employees and, as women are much more likely than men to work in part-time or casual roles, this also increases the gender pay gap.

Do employer gender pay gaps reflect the differences in pay for all employees, including non-binary employees?

WGEA calculates employer gender pay gaps based on women and men. Recognising that gender is a social and cultural concept, since the 2020-21 reporting period, WGEA has created the option for employers to report employee gender as non-binary as a voluntary data category.

The proportion of employers reporting employee gender as non-binary increased from 8.8% in 2020-21 to 19% in 2022-23. The proportion of non-binary employees in WGEA’s dataset similarly increased to 0.2% from less than 0.1% in 2020-21. These are meaningful changes, suggesting awareness of, and attention to, gender diversity in the workplace is increasing. However, the non-binary numbers remain small and reporting is voluntary so it has not been used in this analysis.

Recommendation 7.2 of the Review of the Workplace Gender Equality Act (the Review) recommended changes to enable WGEA to collect data on non-binary employees. WGEA has recently conducted consultations on this recommendation.

What are the first three steps employers should take to improve gender equality?

  1. Do a gender pay gap analysis to understand what is driving gender inequality in their workplace.
  2. Develop an action plan to address the gaps they have identified. This includes consulting with employees on developing measures for success that measure employee experience between line managers and teams.
  3. Set up the right team to lead and implement the plan. This should include anyone who has a role in decision-making and making sure the actions happen, including the CEO/Executive Team, HR and line managers.

How can an employer determine the cause/s of their gender pay gap?

A gender pay gap analysis will highlight the factors that are driving your organisation’s gender gap.

WGEA has developed a Gender Pay Gap Analysis Guide to help employers plan and execute a pay and composition analysis in order to identify the drivers of their gender pay gap.

Interpreting the results

Why does WGEA consider a gender pay gap of +/- 5% to be ‘optimal’?

We recognise that the gender pay gap is a good proxy, but not a perfect measure of gender equality, and the gender make up of a company fluctuates. A gender pay gap of within and including +/-5% allows for normal business fluctuations and employee movements, while signifying that an employer has a strong focus on gender equality and is taking action to show that there is gender equality in the organisation. 

How can a company have a negative gender pay gap?

This occurs when the median of what a woman is paid is more than the median of what a man is paid. This is still a gender pay gap and needs to be rectified.

Gender diversity aims for proportional representation of all genders at every level of an organisation. WGEA defines an optimal gender pay gap as within and including +/-5%. That means the median of what a man is paid is between 5 per cent less or more than the median of what a woman is paid.

How come some companies have gender pay gaps of over –100% but no companies have gender pay gaps of over 100%?

This is explained by looking at the way we calculate a gender pay gap.

Australia calculates our gender pay gap using the same method that other countries do to get a measure of what women are paid relative to men.

A gender pay gap is calculated as a percentage of the median or average earnings for men. Because men's pay is used as the reference group, when women earn less than men at an organisation the maximum value for a gender pay gap is 100%. This limitation doesn't apply when women earn more than men at an organisation. The difference in percentage can be far greater than -100%.

How can a company have a 0.0% gender pay gap?

This would happen when there is no difference between the median earnings of women and men at that organisation.

WGEA will include CEO remuneration in gender pay gap calculations next year. How will the inclusion of CEO remuneration affect an employer’s gender pay gap?

The inclusion of CEO remuneration will be a more accurate representation of the gender pay gap as currently 78% of CEOs of private sector employers with 100 or more employees in Australia are male.

Based on current voluntary data, the overall gender pay gap will increase approximately 0.5 percentage points once CEO data is included. At an employer level, based on current voluntary data, approximately 20% of employers will have their GPGs decrease, and 70% of employers will increase.

Tips for searching the WGEA Data Explorer

My employer’s performance on gender equality is important to me. Am I able to search and compare their results?

Yes. Employer gender pay gaps are available on WGEA’s Data Explorer, which can be accessed via WGEA’s website. This platform allows users to see and compare gender equality outcomes for industries, industry sub-divisions, groups of employers by size and individual employers.

Employees and employers can use this tool to gain deeper insights into gender equality performance and outcomes and compare results across employers and industries.

Why can’t I find an employer’s gender pay gap?

There are multiple reasons why you may not be able to find an employer’s gender pay gap, including:

  • The employer may not be required to report to WGEA because:
    • It is a state and territory public sector employer; or
    • It is an employer with less than 100 employees.
  • Commonwealth public sector employers with 100 or more employees are on a different reporting schedule and their gender pay gaps will be published later in the year or early next year.
  • The employer’s trading name may be different to their reporting name. Try searching by the employer’s ABN. You can find an employer’s ABN on the Australian Business Register’s ABN Lookup page.
  • The employer may be non-compliant under the Act. This means the employer has 100 or more employees, but it has not reported to WGEA. Try looking for the employer on our named as non-compliant list.
  • The employer may be non-compliant under the Act, but not named as non-compliant. Not every employer who has failed to comply with the Act is named. When determining whether to exercise the discretion to name an employer, WGEA considers a range of factors including: if the employer has made a reasonable attempt to comply, if the employer is a first-time reporter, the size of the employer, prior history of compliance and, any written representations from the employer.
  • There are technical or data errors for an employer that have not been able to be resolved in time.
  • The employer may be required to report to WGEA under the Act, but has not registered to report.

Why is the gender pay gap published on WGEA’s website different to the gender pay gap published internally by my employer?

Employers that self-publish can choose the methodology and dataset they use to calculate their gender pay gap. This might be different to the approach undertaken by WGEA.

For example, an employer may choose to publish a like-for-like gap, an average gender pay gap based on base salary or total remuneration, or a median gender pay gap.

They may also publish a gender pay gap that uses workforce data from a different date to the workforce data that they provided to WGEA in the 2022-23 Employer Census.

Can an employer explain their gender pay gap or provide context?

Yes. Employers can provide an Employer Statement that gives context to their gender pay gap results. The link to the Employer Statement is displayed alongside each employer’s gender pay gap on the WGEA Data Explorer.  

Employers can upload a link at any time and WGEA will regularly update the Data Explorer.

Is the Employer Statement compulsory?

No, it’s not.

You say that context is important to help understand an employer gender pay gap which is why employers have the option to submit an Employer Statement. How many employers have done this?

As of 18 March 2024, approximately 20% of employers have provided a correctly formatted link to an Employer Statement.

The documents employers link to are the responsibility of the employer, not WGEA. WGEA is not doing a quality check of the links.

Why is some of the analysis in the Gender Equality Scorecard different to the analysis in the Employer Gender Pay Gaps Snapshot and on the Employer Gender Pay Gaps interactive webpage?

The Scorecard and Snapshot are based on slightly different datasets. The analysis in the Gender Equality Scorecard is based on the employer dataset from the September data cut off. To allow employers to be compliant with their gender equality reporting requirements, and to have their gender pay gaps published in February, we extended the data cut off to January. The analysis in the Employer Gender Pay Gaps Snapshot and on the interactive webpage, is based on that cut off.

The different datasets from the different cut off dates slightly, but not materially, changes the results, including some median industry gender pay gaps.

Further resources

Where can I read more?

WGEA’s Data Explorer tool allows users to explore information reported to WGEA in our annual Employer Census. Users can search and compare the gender equality outcomes for industries, industry sub-divisions, groups of employers by size and individual employers.

WGEA’s website also has a suite of educational resources for the public about what the gender pay gap is and how it’s calculated as well as advice for employers on taking action, including:

Footnotes

[1] This figure is an average of the total remuneration for all Australian private sector employees that are reported to the Agency in the annual Employer Census. 

WGEA Gender Pay Gap Resources

This guide will help you understand what the gender pay gap is, and what it isn't. 

Find out how to design, implement and review changes to your workplace that will improve gender equality. 

The WGEA Gender Pay Gap Analysis Guide helps employers to plan and execute a pay and composition analysis in order to identify the drivers of their gender pay gap.