Australia’s latest gender equality scorecard released today

  • Gender pay gap drops to 20.8% but men out-earn earn women by $25,679 on average
  • Big jump in employer action on family and domestic violence
  • More women in management roles but no increase in female CEOs

More Australian employers are taking action to promote gender equality in their organisations but the pace of change is modest and uneven according to data released today by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA).

The sixth year of WGEA data shows the strongest progress towards workplace gender equality are in those areas where employers have a direct influence on the outcome. There was incremental growth in employer action on overall gender equality policies and strategies, pay equity and flexible work.

The stand-out result was a substantial increase in employer action on family and domestic violence. There was a 13.3 percentage point (pp) jump in the number of employers with a policy or strategy on family and domestic violence and an 8.9 pp increase in employers offering paid domestic violence leave.

This year’s findings also showed a small increase in the representation of women in management but the number of female CEOs has not changed, remaining at 17.1% for the second year in a row. Access to paid parental leave improved but more than 50% of employers offer no paid parental leave.

WGEA’s data also highlights some key areas where more effort is needed. In the female-dominated industry of Health Care and Social Assistance, the gender pay gap in favour of men has barely shifted in three years. There was also little improvement in the representation of women on boards.

The Agency’s Director, Libby Lyons, said that the latest results of WGEA’s world-leading dataset covering over four million employees demonstrates the importance of measuring gender equality outcomes in Australian workplaces.

“This year marks the 50th anniversary of the 1969 equal pay decision which first saw Australian women win the right to be paid the same as men for doing the same work, or work of equal or comparable value,” said Ms Lyons.

“Yet 50 years on, women and men still have very different experiences of work. Our data shows that pay gaps favouring men persist in all industries, occupations and manager categories. I always welcome a reduction in the gender pay gap, but a drop of only 0.5 percentage points is slow progress by anyone’s measure.

“After six years, the Agency’s data shows that when employers take action, it makes a difference. Women’s promotions and appointments to managerial roles are rising every year. Over seven in ten employers now have policies or strategies to support gender equality or promote flexible working. Action on addressing pay equity continues to grow.

“The most positive development this year is the sharp increase in employer action on family and domestic violence. At a time when confronting the scourge of domestic violence is at the forefront of our national consciousness, it is heartening to see Australian employers making an important contribution to dealing with this issue in their workplaces.

“However, our data also highlights some key problem areas. Despite an improvement in the provision of paid parental leave, over half of the employers in our dataset do not offer it. Women are still hitting the glass ceiling at the highest levels. The number of women CEOs has stalled and Australia’s boardroom tables remain dominated by men.

“This year, it is fair to say that overall improvement has been modest at best. Clearly more work has to be done to sustain the momentum for change in our workplaces,” said Ms Lyons.

Data released today shows a worrying decline in employer action on gender equality prior to the impact of COVID-19.

Australia's latest gender equality scorecard is out now and we want your help to spread the word.