A glaring difference
What the Hollywood example shows is that the pay gap is a subject people feel passionately about, and that it transcends all levels of society. In American Hustle, for example, a recent Business Insider story reported that the male actors were paid nine per cent of the profits, while Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence were paid just seven per cent each.
“Gender pay gaps exist across all industries, and film and media is one area where the issue is supported by some big voices, like the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media,” says Emily Cappas, Education Advisor at the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA).
In terms of pay, figures from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s No Ceilings Report reveal that in high-income countries, the average wage advantage for men is around 15 per cent.
And according to WGEA’s recent pay equity report, the gender pay gap in Australia is currently at 18.8 per cent. For the past 20 years, this has hovered between 15 and 19 per cent.
“Unfortunately, pay inequity is an ongoing issue for individuals and families,” adds Cappas. “It limits women’s ability to accumulate wealth, impacting on economic security in retirement and increasing reliance on government benefits and services in retirement.”
Fair pay for a fair day’s work
Even today, there’s sometimes unconscious bias when it comes to salaries, says Cappas. There could be organisation-wide pay gaps, “by-level” pay gaps and “like-for-like pay” gaps (where men and women perform similar roles), in recruitment, promotion, performance and remuneration decisions.
Peta Fielding, director and CEO of Burleigh Brewing, which was a 2013 Telstra Business Awards winner, says that she’s been fortunate not to experience pay gaps in previous roles.
But when it comes to hiring her own staff, employing the best candidate has always been at the forefront of her mind.
“My approach is to seek out the best person for each role that becomes available or is created as we continue to grow our business.
“As a result, our crew consists of a range of ages, backgrounds, cultures – and a mix of both genders. And yes, we operate in what has traditionally been a male-dominated industry, but despite that, about 25 per cent of our workforce is female. Gender does not enter our thinking when it comes to the best person for the job.”
Cappas agrees that Fielding’s business philosophy is wise when it comes to staff retention.
“Organisations that pay employees fairly, regardless of gender, will have access to a broader talent pool and be better able to retain talent.”
To ensure fair pay in all industries, Cappas says there are some steps small businesses can take.
“To tackle the issue of pay inequality, small businesses need to look at their payroll data and if they find gender pay gaps in the same or similar roles, focus on determining the reasons for the gaps, and eliminate any gender bias that may be causing them.”
Bridging the pay gap
- Get started by understanding the issues. Look at the stats surrounding “Like-for-like”, “By-level” and “Organisation-wide” gaps and get your head around why this is so important.
- Review your data and find the causes. Do a payroll analysis, identify the gaps and investigate the reasons for your existing gender pay gaps.
- Take action by making a decision. Develop an action plan and implement preventative action for the future.
The numbers from the WGEA report paint a telling tale. Check out our full infographic on the gender gap below: