In series 4, episode 16 of the Make it Work podcast, we explored the pressing issue of the gender pay gap in Australia and ways to overcome it, particularly in the context of small businesses.

Gender equality in the workplace has become a pivotal concern, reflecting not only societal issues but also presenting challenges for businesses of all sizes. Let’s delve into the four main takeaways from our conversation and discover actionable strategies for addressing this critical issue.

Understanding the Gender Pay Gap

The gender pay gap has been a persistent issue in Australia, with progress remaining frustratingly stagnant. It’s essential to recognize that the gender pay gap is distinct from equal pay, as equal pay for equal work has been legally required since the 1960s. The gender pay gap, however, encompasses broader issues, affecting organisations at large.

Pay Equity and Transparency

One vital step in closing the gender pay gap is to establish a remuneration policy that addresses pay equity and retention challenges. A transparent and documented process is key, as research suggests that employees are more likely to leave their jobs when they can’t discuss their pay. Utilising resources available on the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGA) website are great for smaller businesses.

Transparency doesn’t stop at policy; it should extend to job listings. We discussed the importance of advertising salary ranges or salary information upfront in job listings. Although pay transparency can be seen as taboo in business, Lachy advocated for greater visibility and fairness in the compensation process.

Unconscious Bias and Self-Awareness

Unconscious bias plays a significant role in perpetuating the gender pay gap. Both Karen and Lachy reflected on their own biases and privilege. Overcoming unconscious bias is crucial, particularly in hiring processes. It’s essential to recognise and address biases that favour people similar to us. This can be done using a simple yet effective exercise of writing down five “I am” statements to identify and address personal biases.

Structured Interviews and Diversity in Hiring

To ensure fairness in hiring decisions and eliminate bias, a structured interview process is invaluable. This approach involves using the same interview script for each candidate and assessing them based on objective criteria rather than subjective impressions. Debriefing with a team member can really help to check for biases in hiring decisions.

Hiring diverse candidates can be challenging due to unconscious bias and complex situations. However, it’s essential to involve everyone in the decision-making process and consider multiple perspectives to ensure fairness and equity in hiring practices. Transparency in HR processes, particularly in relation to pay equity, remains a cornerstone in addressing the gender pay gap.

Addressing the gender pay gap is a multifaceted challenge that requires dedication and a commitment to change. Small businesses can play a significant role in narrowing the gap by implementing transparent policies, fostering self-awareness to combat bias, and adopting structured hiring processes. By recognizing and addressing these issues, we can take a significant step towards achieving gender equality in the workplace and building a more inclusive future.

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