RELATED: Equal Pay Day 2019 Announced
Libby Lyons, Director of the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, co-commissioner of the report with Diversity Council Australia, made an impassioned plea to everyday Australians to challenge the "blind acceptance that women's work is less valuable than men's."
"We know there are many actions employers can take to achieve pay equity," she said. "However we cannot rely solely on the actions of employers if we are going to close the gender pay gap. We must also change the outlook, the hearts and minds of all Australians. We must challenge ourselves in order to change the very ingrained gender stereotypes that underpin the gender pay gap."
The WGEA and DCA have been strong advocates for discouraging gender discrimination in the workplace and supporting initiatives to achieve pay equity such as increasing pay transparency and reporting on gender pay gaps, increasing availability of flexible work, childcare and shared parental leave and addressing unconscious bias to change workplace culture.
Apart from gender discrimination, the second-biggest driver of the pay gap, according to the report, was career interruptions. Both men and women experience interruptions due to career breaks, study and unemployment. However, women in particular also tend to spend time away from work to care for young children and elderly relatives. In order to reduce the pay gap, workplaces need to ensure that both women and men have access to parental leave, carers leave and flexible work options and that men are encouraged to take up these leave provisions.
Industrial and occupational segregation also contributed to a further 17 per cent of the gender pay gap. Occupational segregation occurs when men and women are unequally distributed within workplaces, where women tend to occupy lower-level positions and are underrepresented in more senior or managerial roles. Industrial segregation refers to the concentration of males or females to particular jobs, such as so-called ‘pink collar jobs’: nursing, child care, teaching and secretarial work. Gender expectations and social norms contribute to the feminisation of certain jobs, forcing women into roles and industries that are dominated by women and paid less than industries dominated by men.
The evidence presented by KPMG suggests that there is still a long way to go to close the gender pay gap, let alone the further pay inequality experienced by women of colour and indigenous women.