Reform is essential if Australia ever hopes to achieve gender parity and equal pay in the workforce according to a new report by the Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM).
AIPM CEO Elizabeth Foley says organisations are missing out on millions of working hours as many professional women are disincentivised to return to work following the birth of their children. Foley suggests gender parity could be improved and add a potential 12 million working hours to the economy annually if barriers to childcare could be removed.
Foley said the childcare reforms introduced in 2018 by the federal government presented significant disincentives to women from professional backgrounds returning to work after having children.
“Under the current settings, if combined family income exceeds the set upper limits by just one dollar, the amount provided by the Child Care Subsidy Scheme plunges by at least half and in some circumstances by more than half,” she says.
“These built-in financial cliffs really exacerbate the work disincentives facing younger working mothers, dissuading them from working more than three days a week.
Foley says because it’s often believed that only by working full time can people achieve career mastery, women are disadvantaged and often overlooked for promotions. While those who are promoted are yet to achieve equal pay for equal work.
AIPM’s report identifies a number of areas where reform is needed. Apart from childcare reform, they include building a work culture that values women, closing gender-defined gaps in pay and superannuation, and breaking down the gender dominance (both male and female) that characterise many industries.
“In Australia, only 25 per cent of the ASX-listed executive leadership team are women,” said Foley.
“At that level, the gender pay gap averages 21.3 per cent – meaning women are being paid almost $26,000 less each year than men filling identical roles and carrying identical responsibilities.”
Despite advances, it seems equal pay is a long way off.
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