Gender diversity

It’s Equal Pay Day Today. Here’s Why You Should Speak To Men About It

Men have to see themselves as part of the problem and therefore essential to the solution.

By Jamila Rizvi

Gender diversity

Men have to see themselves as part of the problem and therefore essential to the solution.

By Jamila Rizvi

The principle of equal pay is a simple one. That regardless of gender, the same work is deserving of the same financial reward. If Anna and Adam sit next to one another in an office, doing the same job and employed for the same hours, Adam shouldn’t take home a fatter pay packet simply because he’s male.

Simplicity can be deceiving, however. The national conversation on pay equality remains fraught and controversial. It was way back in 1969 that Australia first recognised women’s right to equal pay, but as former Justice Mary Gaudron said decades later: “We got equal pay. Then we got it again. Then we got it again and we still don’t have it”. Her lesson remains acutely relevant.

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In 2019, the national gender pay gap has remained steady from 2018 and remains at its lowest level in 20 years at 14 per cent. Equal Pay Day is today, on the August 28, as it marks the additional 59 days from the end of the previous financial year that women must work to earn the same pay as men.

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By contrast, the average man picks up a handful of hours ‘babysitting’ his own kids on the weekend. His domestic cleaning load doesn’t budge and nor do his hours in the paid workforce. His life changes, yes. The arrival of children is a world-shifting joy for most new parents. But for a bloke? His ability to earn a living and provide for himself remains fairly steady. For a woman, it’s shattered.

Women’s salaries peak at just age 31, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. For men that same peak comes about close to a decade later. That’s a decade’s worth of more experience, further training or education, and strategic decision making. A decade of more time to climb the greasy pole of promotion and pay rises. The result is that women retire with just over half the superannuation savings of men.

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In her series, Making The Case, Future Women’s arguer-in-chief Jamila Rizvi arms you with the right ammunition to argue the pay gap to a non-believer. You can read her guide in full here but here are the key takeaways to help you with any tricky conversation this week, and beyond.

The basics: The gender pay gap is the difference between women and men’s average full-time weekly salaries, expressed as a percentage of men’s salaries. The gender pay gap has remained relatively stable in Australia for close to two decades, with 2018 being the first year it dropped below 15 per cent. Crucially, the gender pay gap does not include non-salaried extras that employees might receive such as performance pay, superannuation and non-monetary incentives. If it did, the gap would be considerably larger.

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