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The ‘motherhood penalty’ is a major factor in Australia’s gender pay gap and an issue that must be addressed with greater urgency, the Diversity Council Australia has said.

DCA’s CEO, Lisa Annese, said recent ABS statistics showing the national gender pay gap has increased to 18.2% – the highest level in 30 years – paints a depressing picture and demands urgent attention.

“The current gender pay gap means women are currently earning just under 82 cents for every dollar their male colleagues earn, down from an average of 85 cents, ten years ago. This is despite Australian tribunals handing down the ever first equal pay case in 1975. How can we still be in this position in 2014?” Annese said.

Annese also called on employers, in the lead up to Equal Pay Day on 5 September 2014, to redouble efforts in tacking pay inequity.

“There are a lot of practical and relatively simple steps employers can take to address the problem and this must be given priority,” she said.

Organisations can help reduce the gender pay gap by ensuring they have strategies in place to support mothers – and fathers – to manage their family responsibilities alongside their paid work. These include:

  • Ensuring flexible work is available to all employees at all levels of the organisation;
  • Designing jobs, workflows and careers that can encompass flexible working;
  • Making sure organisational culture supports both women and men to work flexibly;
  • Supporting pregnant women and mothers to return to work and to continue to be valued members of the workforce with the same opportunities as their colleagues;
  • Reviewing wage setting and pay scales to ensure part-time workers are compensated at the same levels as their full-time counterparts;
  • Putting in place performance evaluation and development criteria that are gender-neutral and do not disadvantage employees working flexibly;
  • Providing salary transparency where possible;
  • Training managers on how to manage employees working flexibly.

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Stephanie Zillman

Stephanie Zillman

Stephanie is the editor-at-large of Dynamic Business. Stephanie brings with her a passion for journalism, business, and new ideas. On her days off, you might find her reading a book on the beach.

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