Mind the gap

NEW Vincent councillor Jonathan Hallett has asked  for the city’s gender pay gap to be included in the city’s annual reports.

The difference between men’s and women’s average full time earnings is about 20 per cent in the private sector and 12 per cent in the public sector, according to the government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency.

The gap hasn’t significantly narrowed in the past 20 years and it’s worse in WA than in the rest of Australia.

Cr Hallett says legislation requires companies with more than 100 employees to report their gender pay gap, and since Vincent has more than 400, it should have the same level of accountability.

• Cr Jonathan Hallett wants to find out if Vincent council has a gender pay gap issue. Photo by Steve Grant

Cr Hallett, a lecturer at Curtin Univeristy, says: “I work in research, and it’s really hard to address things unless you have good information about it, so getting local governments to report on workforce profiles is a good way to analyse if there are issues.”

Vincent council CEO Len Kosova supports the move and has begun analysing the city’s workforce gender pay data with a view to including it in this year’s annual report.

He says the city plans to introduce “a new, contemporary workforce plan that will include measures and future targets relating to employee mix, including gender”.

Low-paying

Cr Hallett wants to go a step further and make the reporting of the gender pay gap mandatory for all local governments.

Men’s Rights Activists often dismiss the gender pay gap as a myth, or claim it’s because women choose easy, low-paying jobs, or are too meek to ask for pay rises.

But research by Harvard University found that if women attempted to negotiate their salary during interviews, they’re more likely to viewed as non-team players, while men who negotiate are viewed by employers as “bold leaders”.

Women also have problems just getting an interview: in a study by recruitment firm Hays, they sent out 1000 identical resumes—half with a male name and half with a female name—and found that the men were more likely to get interviews.

Cr Hallett says that company culture plays a big part too, and if an industry doesn’t have many female role models it’s less likely to attract women.

There’s a dearth of women in top executive jobs that skews the pay gap: (looking at ASX 200 companies, there are more CEOs and chairpersons named “John” than there are women), and when they do get senior management roles they get paid less than men.

Vincent’s CEO and four directors are male. Cr Hallett’s motion will be voted on next week.

by DAVID BELL

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