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Financial services among worst gender gap offenders, WGEA reveals

By Jack Campbell
4 minute read

New data has revealed that when it comes to gender pay gaps, financial and insurance services stand out among the worst offenders.

Financial and insurance services have emerged as one of the worst offenders, with a median total remuneration gap of 26.1 per cent, according to findings published by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) on Tuesday.

Last year it was announced that WGEA would publish the gender pay gap for employers with a workforce of 100 or more employees from 2024. The change is the result of amendments to the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 passed by Federal Parliament in March 2023.

Nationally, the WGEA median total remuneration gender pay gap stood at 19 per cent, the agency said in its inaugural gender pay gap report. This means, that over the course of a year, the median of what women are paid is $18,461 less than the median of what men are paid.

WGEA’s data revealed that every industry had a median gender pay gap in favour of men. While construction had the largest median total remuneration gender pay gap at 31.8 per cent, financial and insurance services followed closely behind with 26.1 per cent. On equal footing, on 26.1 per cent, were also professional, scientific and technical services.

The WGEA also detailed that out of the 5,000 businesses its survey captured, a total of 3,057 employers (or 61.6 per cent) had a gender pay gap that favours men, while just 412 (or 8.3 per cent) favoured women. Some 1,450 (30.1 per cent) employers have a neutral pay gap, which means the median is within 5 per cent.

Moreover, the survey revealed that industries with a predominantly female workforce tended to exhibit smaller pay gaps, whereas those dominated by males were significantly more prone to such disparities. Remarkably, 76 per cent of employers in male-dominated industries reported a gender pay gap favouring men, in contrast to 64 per cent in mixed-gender industries, and 41 per cent in female-dominated industries.

In three industries, mining, electricity, water and waste services and financial and insurance services, 90 per cent or more employers have a gender pay gap in favour of men and more than 80 per cent of those employers have a gender pay gap above 9.1 per cent.

Commenting on the findings, WGEA chief executive Mary Wooldridge said: “This really is a significant step forward in our understanding about gender equality in Australian workplaces and, as you can imagine, we’re very excited to now be at this point.

“This was done as a catalyst for improvement as employers now have that public accountability for that performance. That accountability is both today, in terms of their current performance in its own right and relative to their peers, but also, we think very importantly over time as we see changes in their gender pay gaps from year-to-year.

“We’ll be able to see if the commitments they make and articulate in relation to their understanding of the gaps and what they’re going to do about them translates into the outcome of reducing their gender pay gap.”

WGEA’s data also highlighted that smaller employers were more likely to have larger gender pay gaps. Namely, 62 per cent of organisations with 100–250 employees favoured men in gender pay gaps, with this figure dropping to 56 per cent of employers with 5,000 or more staff.

Interestingly, employers with more women in leadership positions had a lower gender pay gap.

Namely, employers with gender balance in key management personnel, at least 40 per cent women and 40 per cent men, were 50 per cent more likely to have a neutral gender pay gap compared to employers with fewer than 20 per cent women in these leadership positions.

“This information arms employees, consumers, investors and other stakeholders with information about each company’s performance, which we think will help to motivate that change. And of course, the public pressure by the media is a really important aspect of employer accountability. Both highlighting – we hope – who is doing well and also who needs to improve,” said Ms Wooldridge.

For more information, check out WGEA’s Data Explorer.