Discrimination is the biggest reason for the gender pay gap in Australia. Here's what can be done about it.

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  • Gender discrimination is the single biggest factor in causing the gender pay gap in Australia, according to a new report from consulting giant KPMG.
  • The report found gender discrimination accounted for 39% of the gender pay gap in Australia.
  • KMPG also listed ways to address gender discrimination, such as having pay transparency and increasing shared parental care.

Gender discrimination is the biggest reason for the gender pay gap in Australia — and much can be done about it, according to a new report.

The gender pay gap is often misunderstood to mean two people being paid differently for the same work, or work of the same value. That actually refers to equal pay.

The gender pay gap, however, is a measure of the difference between the average earnings of women and men in the entire Australian workforce, according to The Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA).

In Australia, there is a 14% gender pay gap for full-time employees — a difference of $241.50 per week, according to WGEA.

Research from global consulting and accounting firm KPMG has found that gender discrimination continues to be the biggest factor that contributes to the gender pay gap (39%). Gender discrimination is the unequal treatment of a person based on their gender.

The new KPMG report, She’s Price(d)less: The Economics of the Gender Pay Gap, was developed for Diversity Council Australia (DCA) and WGEA and looks at the factors that contribute to gender pay gaps.

It highlighted that “stubborn gender stereotypes” about the roles men and women play in paid work and care continue to drive the pay gap.

Lisa Annese, CEO of Diversity Council Australia, said structural inequalities and rigid gender-norms continue to diminish our capacity to provide pay equality across the economy.

“We need to challenge ideas that the vast majority of caring responsibilities and housework should fall to women,” she said in a statement.

The next biggest contributing factor to the gender pay gap was occupational segregation i.e. the unequal distribution of women and men in certain positions.

It highlighted that women are over-represented in lower paid jobs and underrepresented in managerial positions — but you already knew that.

Another factor? The impact of part-time employment and unpaid work.

The report said there was an economic, as well as social, imperative to close the gap. In 2018, KPMG estimated that halving the pay gap could result in an additional $60 billion to GDP by 2038.

“Solving the challenge of Australia’s gender pay gap is not only fair and sensible, it’s an economically responsible endeavor,” KPMG Australia chair Alison Kitchen said in a statement.

KPMG also identified some ways in which the pay gap can be closed.

For employers, it’s about addressing discrimination through hiring and promotions processes, having increased pay transparency, increasing flexible work and of course, ramping up the amount of women in leadership positions.

However, Libby Lyons, Director of the WGEA, said action shouldn’t just fall to employers.

“We cannot rely solely on the actions of employers if we are going to close the gender pay gap,” she said.

“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.”

To that end, KPMG also mentioned other factors that can help address the pay gap such as increasing childcare availability, or making childcare more affordable, increasing shared parental care and breaking down social norms regarding what roles and industries are appropriate for men and women.

There is still a long way to go to address the gender pay gap, but acknowledging where the issues are first is a great way to begin.

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