Thousands of companies reveal gender pay gaps

From breweries to banks and airlines to accommodation — industries have revealed their pay gaps.

From breweries to banks and airlines to accommodation — industries have revealed their pay gaps. Photo: TND / AAP

Australia’s biggest pay gaps have been revealed for the first time, with airlines and banks exposed for salaries that heavily favour men while one male-focussed industry had a surprising result.

The data, published by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), included 5000 private employers with more than 100 workers in various industries — from breweries and banks to transport and warehousing.

It shows men earned more in 90 per cent or more of mining, electricity, water and waste services and financial and insurance services.

More than 80 per cent of those employers have a gap above 9.1 per cent. The national average is 21.7 per cent, equivalent to women earning $26,393 less than men annually.

There is also a link between more women in leadership roles and lower pay discrepancies, while employers with more women in management roles were 50 per cent more likely to have a neutral pay gap.

Australian airlines including Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin reported a median pay gap of 37 per cent, 43.7 per cent and 41.7 per cent respectively.

Qantas Group chief people officer Catherine Walsh said the data did not mean women were paid less than men to do the same jobs.

Rather there was significant under-representation of women in more highly paid roles such as pilots and engineers, jobs the airline was working to encourage more women into.

“The years of training required for these roles means improving the gender balance of these work groups will take time,” Walsh said.

Banks also reported significant pay gaps in favour of men, including 18.8 per cent at NAB, 28.5 per cent at Westpac and 29.9 per cent at the Commonwealth Bank.

A CBA spokesperson said women reflected 54 per cent of the bank’s local workforce and 44 per cent of leadership roles.

But 71 per cent of customer service and operational roles, which typically have lower rates of pay, were held by women.

“CBA’s median pay gap reflects many factors influencing the gender pay gap more broadly, including the types of roles performed by women, the seniority of those roles and the composition of the workforce,” the spokesperson said.

Major brewer Lion, the maker of XXXX, Tooheys and Four Pillars gin, had a much lower median base pay gender gap of 1.4 per cent (or 8.4 per cent with bonuses and penalties).

The data has been broken down by industry into base salaries and total pay including superannuation, overtime and bonuses.

WGEA chief executive Mary Wooldridge said the data release, made possible by a legislative reform passed in 2023, was a significant step forward in understanding gender equality in Australian workplaces.

“Transparency and accountability is actually beneficial to employees, to the community and to the nation as a whole because gender equality is beneficial on all of those levels,” she said.

“(Pay gap reporting) is something that’s happened in other countries with very positive outcomes, and it’s a useful step in the journey to equality.”

While there was no legal requirement for organisations to reduce pay gaps in their organisation, Ms Wooldridge said employers who failed to act on the data would be disadvantaged.

“Employers can choose how they respond in relation to the publishing of this information, we’re not requiring them to do anything,” she said.

“But I think they fail to act on gender equality at their peril.

“Employers need to understand that this information can really be shaping the decisions of their future workforce.”

-with AAP

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