28th October 2016

KPMG Australia has recently released its findings in the form of a report on the earnings disparity between male and female workers. Despite growing efforts to increase awareness and address discrimination issues the study found that the gap between what men and women make may be widening, instead of shrinking.

Currently, women make on average about 16.2 percent less than their male counterparts as they have for roughly the last 20 years, but the findings KPMG Australia released found that number is heading in the wrong direction. 

Work experience, training, education, and status quo discrimination within the labour market are all key contributors to deflated women’s wages, the research revealed. KPMG Australia’s findings show systematic and endemic discrimination becoming even more widespread, with this factor making up around 40 percent of the gender pay gap this year. 

The other findings from the study include: The over-representation of women in the part-time workforce is still prevalent despite the proportion of the gap attributable to this factor decreasing by 10 percent in the last seven years; women still make up nearly 72 percent of the part-time workforce. ‘Traditional’ gender roles for men and women played a significant part in the wage gap, accounting for nearly a third of the disparity. Also the part of the gap attributable to time spent out of the workforce went up by 11 percent, furthering beliefs that interruptions in work history continue to play a substantial role in the pay gap.

Some gender equality advocacy groups have applauded KPMG Australia’s research and have urged Australian businesses, as well as the government, to take its findings as motivation to strive for more equitable wage solutions. Although the numbers in the research speak volumes, and while individual companies and businesses can do their part to close the wage gap within their workplaces, the government, communities, and industries would all need to become more active in order to invoke broad sweeping reform. 

The report included a section on how to combat gender discrimination, and address and reform their position on the wage gap. The section entitled ‘The Executive Companion’ outlines the six steps businesses can take to bring about the necessary changes in the office. 

The steps start by understanding not only the vast disparity in the gender pay gap, but also what factors cause it; workplace culture, environment, and business behaviours are all considered, among others. Another step focuses on how businesses can improve upon retaining female employees during their early to mid-30’s when many women have children. The Executive Companion also makes recommendations in regard to training in skill development, networking to help career progression, and changing the culture of the office to discourage the behavioural factors that have led to the wage gap.

It’s important to take what the research has revealed and use it to further efforts to create a happy and equal workplace for all. While the issue has its hurdles, some seemingly too large to overcome, open dialogue, education, and outreach are key to fixing this problem.

 

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