Gender Pay Gap At 20 Year Low, But Still Way Too Big

Gap now at 20 year low, but more to be done.

Good news -- Australia's gender pay gap is now smaller than it was 12 months ago.

Bad news -- Australia still has a gender pay gap.

Bureau of Statistics figures analysed by the federal government's Workplace Gender Equality Agency find the pay gap between male and female full-time employees is currently at 14.6 percent. That sounds bad, but it's actually at its lowest disparity in the last two decades. Last year, it was 15.3 percent.

The 14.6 percent gap comes out to an average difference of $244.80 per week between the pay packets taken home by men and women.

"If every employer in Australia did a pay audit, analysed the results and then took action, we would eventually consign the national gender pay gap to the annals of history," said WGEA director Libby Lyons.

"However, we cannot become complacent as there is still much work to do. All employers need to continue to ensure their employees are paid equitably. Do a pay gap analysis. Report the results to the executive and board. Pay gaps close when leaders see the numbers."

The WGEA found the average woman working full-time took home $1433.60 a week, while full-time male workers got $1678.40.

(Brendon Thorne/Bloomberg)

Research from WGEA and KPMG in 2016 found major factors leading to a gender pay gap included women taking time out of the workforce for family or child-rearing reasons which affect their career progression; discrimination in hiring and pay decisions; lack of flexibility to accommodate family responsibilities; and the fact that female-dominated industries often attract lower wages.

"Organisations that commit to addressing pay equity see tangible benefits through employee engagement and loyalty. And most importantly these organisations attract the best talent because they have access to and take advantage of the whole talent pool," KPMG CEO Gary Wingrove and National Managing Partner Susan Ferrier said in the 2016 report.