WGEA’s Gender Equality Scorecard provides an annual update on the state of workplace gender equality in Australia.
It features the data and insights from WGEA’s annual Employer Census of private sector employers with 100 or more employees.
The 2022-23 WGEA Employer Census was the largest yet – capturing data from 5,135 employer reporting groups, covering 4,822,194 employees. Collecting data on employee composition and pay, as well as workplace policies and practices, the WGEA Employer Census delivers the most comprehensive dataset on workplace gender equality in the world.
The Gender Equality Scorecard sets out a unique record of progress on workplace gender equality. It highlights what employers have achieved, draws attention to areas requiring employer focus, improvement, and action, and creates a historical record to build on over time.
WGEA CEO Mary Wooldridge
We invite employers to use this Scorecard as a guide for how to think about their own employees’ gender equality experience. What are they doing well and where is there room for improvement? WGEA is here to support employers and to work together to achieve a gender equal workplace experience for all Australian employees.
Download the WGEA Gender Equality Scorecard 2022-23 Executive Summary
The state of workplace gender equality in 2022-23
The confluence of increased discussion and debate around gender equality and a tight labour market has helped drive action on workplace gender equality over the last year.
Undoubtedly, the passing of the Workplace Gender Equality Amendment (Closing the Gender Pay Gap) Bill 2023 and associated Legislative Instruments has also strongly reinforced that employers need to consider their gender equality strategies and begin to take measures to lower their own gender pay gaps.
But while the Census results show notable measures of progress, there are still areas where the gender equality outcomes are not shifting. Without consistent action across all the levers reflected in the gender equality indicators, gender inequality will persist within Australian workplaces.
The WGEA average gender pay gap is the lowest it has ever been at 21.7%
The average total remuneration gender pay gap is 21.7%.
This is a decrease of 1.1 percentage points from the previous year, showing that the gender pay gap is again on a downward trend after stalling between 2020-21 and 2021-22.
The key driver of this change was an increase in the proportion of women in management and in the upper pay quartiles in 2022-23, with the proportion of women in management increasing at every level, except at CEO.
However, the gender pay gap is a persistent feature in Australian workplaces. Every industry and almost three-quarters (73%) of employers have a gender pay gap of larger than 5% in favour of men. Construction has the highest gender pay gap, with an average gender pay gap of 28.3% and a median gender pay gap of 31.8%.
There has been progress on levers to drive change
The legislative reforms passed in early 2023 require employers to share their WGEA Executive Summary and Industry Benchmark Report – which include their gender pay gaps – with their board or governing body from this year.
With strong messaging about the importance of board scrutiny and in anticipation of this change, it is pleasing to see more employers conducted a pay gap analysis and reported their pay equity metrics (including gender pay gaps) to their board or governing body.
The data shows that 57% of the employers that did a pay gap analysis and took action as a result, corrected like-for-like gaps following this analysis. This action links to instances of unequal pay, which is a legal requirement and only one driver of the gender pay gap.
While it is encouraging and vital to further success to see increases in analysis and action, the aim is to ultimately see broader actions that will address the full range of drivers of organisational gender pay gaps.
This year is the first time that the proportion of employees working in a predominantly single-gender industry has reduced to half the workforce, with the proportion of employees in mixed-gender industries reaching 50%. This is an important milestone for workplace gender equality. WGEA-released research with the Bankwest Curtin Economic Centre shows the overall gender pay gap in Australia can be reduced by up to one third if workplaces are more gender-balanced both across industry sectors and at all occupational levels.
Finally, the data indicates positive trends on availability of paid parental leave. Of the 63% of employers offering some form of paid parental leave, 33% offer universally available paid parental leave – a 9 percentage point increase from last year.
Universally available paid parental leave is leave offered equally to men and women, without using labels that define a carer’s role in the family unit as ‘primary’ or ‘secondary’.
By removing these labels, employers can be more inclusive about who is a carer. This, coupled with organisational support, can encourage more equitable uptake of parental leave and sharing of unpaid care.
Further reforms will support areas where there has been incremental change
While the increases for women in management and upper pay quartiles drove reductions in the gender pay gap, the changes remain modest and well below men’s representation. As in previous years, as the level of seniority in management increases, women’s representation decreases and in 2022- 23, the proportion of women CEOs decreased slightly to 22% (from 22.3%).
WGEA's publication of employer gender composition and average remuneration per pay quartile will focus employers on composition as a key driver of gender pay gaps. What is encouraging is there is a gradual movement of women into management. The proportion of women being promoted and appointed at manager level is higher than the proportion of women managers overall. As this trend continues the overall proportion of women in management will continue to increase.
Imbalances in the workplace are directly related to imbalances in care. Women still account for the majority of primary carer’s leave taken and men account for the majority of secondary carer’s leave taken. The small increase (0.6pp) in the proportion of paid primary carer’s parental leave taken by men (to 14%), shows men need to be actively encouraged and supported to do so at all levels of the organisation.
There was a three percentage point increase in the number of employers that pay superannuation on parental leave (to 86%), including 14% also paying it on government-funded parental leave and 13% on unpaid leave. This is a sign that more employers are taking action to ease the retirement savings gap for women.
Finally, employers cannot let the gains made in flexible work regress. Most employers now have a flexible work policy, and for the first time, more than 50% of employers with a flexible work policy also hold leaders to account for improving flexibility. However, less than half (43%), provide managers with specific training on flexible work and the proportion offering team training has dropped to just over a third (35%). Flexible working arrangements are an essential method of balancing care responsibilities and therefore a vital tool in the gender equality journey.
Change requires action
The areas that haven’t changed over the last year haven’t seen corresponding actions to prompt change.
Women's representation on boards stayed the same as the previous year at 34% and very few organisations (13%) set targets to increase this.
While industrial and occupational segregation remains an issue across the board, what is clear is that industrial and occupational barriers for women are particularly pernicious to gender equality. For the first time, the Scorecard analyses occupational segregation by full-time and part-time work and what it shows is that more senior positions remain incompatible with how many women need to, or want to, engage in the workforce.
92% of manager roles are full-time, while 57% of women work in part-time and casual roles. The higher proportion of men in full-time employment (67% compared to 43% of women) increases their chances to progress into higher earning and management positions.
While female-dominated industries are more likely to have a broader range of flexible work options available, they are stagnating on taking action on gender equality compared to male-dominated industries. They are three times less likely to analyse their payroll for gender pay gaps and take action than male-dominated industries in the past year. Female-dominated industries still have gender pay gaps and do not have proportional representation of leadership, so should not rely on significant representation of women to deliver their gender equality outcomes.
At the most basic level, employers are still not consulting staff on gender equality. While 47% of employers reported they consult employees, only 3 in 10 employers have a formal policy or strategy to do so. This figure has not changed from 2021-22. This is a simple and effective way to start demonstrating to employees commitment on gender equality.
What can employers do
The findings in this Scorecard point to areas for employer action, progress, and positive change.
The Scorecard can serve as a comparison for an employer with their organisation’s or industry’s data to understand how their progress may differ or align with national trends in order to make a data-informed assessment on where they are stuck and what can be done about it. Employers can use the data in this Scorecard to begin the hard work, take more effective and ambitious action, and make workplace gender equality a priority.
Download past Gender Equality Scorecards
2021-22 Gender Equality Scorecard
2020-2021 Gender Equality Scorecard
2019-2020 Gender Equality Scorecard
2018-2019 Gender Equality Scorecard
2017-2018 Gender Equality Scorecard
2016-2017 Gender Equality Scorecard
2015-2016 Gender Equality Scorecard
2014-2015 Gender Equality Scorecard
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WGEA Gender Equality Scorecard 2022-23
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Gender equality is good for business. Find out how you can take action in your business starting today.