08 Sep 2016

The one big thing we need to do to close the gender pay gap

Equal Pay Day is a reminder that we have a long way to go before we close the gender pay gap in Australia. As a working woman and a leader at National Australia Bank, I am disappointed that the gap is still so wide.

Australia’s gender pay gap for base salary is 23 per cent, according to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency’s most recent data. In the financial and insurance services industry the gap is even worse at 29.8 per cent.

At NAB, our gender pay gap of 25.6 per cent for base pay shows that we have a lot of work to do too. However, we’ve been working on gender pay equity for many years now. We’ve learned some things along the way that have improved our performance, and ensured our pay gap is below the industry average.

I’m sharing what we’ve learned, because it may also help change things in other organisations.

Important steps
In 2012, we completed a comprehensive gender pay audit in partnership with the Financial Services Union. This audit revealed a number of key findings particularly in relation to the impact of parental leave on pay. So we made changes to our Enterprise Agreement to ensure people returning from parental leave have their salary reviewed upon return to the workforce. That commitment is also in the latest Enterprise Agreement that our people voted for last week.

Change must be led from the top. Our CEO Andrew Thorburn continues to be a Pay Equity Ambassador for Australia’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency as part of their national awareness and education campaign. This campaign aims to eliminate gender pay bias in performance, talent management, and pay decisions.

We also actively monitor the setting of pay when someone commences in a role and provide recommendations on any increases after assessment processes. Both initiatives assist leaders to make appropriate decisions on pay.

At NAB we have been measuring gender pay equity for more than seven years. We have received the Workplace Gender Equality Agency Employer of Choice for Gender Equality citation for the eighth time and we’ve applied again this year.

The one big thing
There are a number of complex factors that influence the gender pay gap. These include the tendency for certain types of work and roles to be dominated by one gender, flexibility (or the lack of it) in certain roles and social factors.

From our analysis we know that the greatest reduction in the overall pay gap at NAB will come through increased female representation at more senior levels.

We are committed to ensuring that happens through our recruitment, talent identification, leadership and capability strategies. Part of the solution is having a strong pipeline of talented women to help ensure more women are ready for senior roles.

Equal Pay Day marks the additional time from the end of the previous financial year that women in Australia must work to earn the same as men. This year Equal Pay Day falls on 8 September.

I look forward to the time when we no longer need to mark this day.

Lynda Dean is the Executive General Manager, Performance & Reward at NAB. 

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