Equal Pay Day marks the period of extra days in the current year which women need to work to achieve the same wages that men earned during the previous financial year.
Equal Pay Day recognises how much longer women have to work to earn the same as men in one year. So, for every 12 months that men work, for example, women may have to work an extra 60 days – and the end of those extra days is marked by Equal Pay Day.
We mark this day as a way of drawing attention to the wage gap that exists in most countries between women and men. Our aim is to work towards reducing the damaging and substantial income gap between women and men, and to do this BPW International motivates BPW affiliates all over the world to establish an Equal Pay Day in their own country. Equal Pay Day is a prominent BPW event across Europe, but they calculate the day on a calendar year rather than the July-June financial year that Australia uses. The USA financial year ends in April, so EPD can be at different times of the year across the globe.
Our challenge is to elevate this issue on the public agenda by raising awareness about pay inequity and making ‘wages’ a more acceptable subject of discussion. Only then will our country’s leaders be moved to initiate strategies to address the gap.
The gender pay gap has been typically around 17% for around 20 years.
Every year the percentage is calculated by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and is based on Average Weekly Earnings data. There’s no one cause of the gap, and no one solution. In fact, most of the gap occurs because of unconscious bias. Employers don’t deliberately pay men and women differently – that is illegal; but they might recruit differently, create different position descriptions, have different expectations, or promote differently depending on whether you are a male or female – without even realising it.
Pay equity is important in the extra tax and GDP it would generate in the national economy. Job satisfaction is in part derived from the knowledge that an employee is valued, but unfortunately women are increasingly marginalised in casual employment, in jobs that are not valued as highly as men’s, (ie ‘care’ such as healthcare and childcare), and often restricted by lack of workplace flexibility.
In 2013, women graduates earned $5000 less than their male counterparts from day 1, up from a $2000 gap in 2012. The situation is worsening, despite Australia having the highest rate of educated women in the world (Global Gender Index, 2013).
Data reported in 2015 based on the first year of standardised gender reporting revealed the gender pay gap across all industries was 19.9% when based on full-time base remuneration, and 24.7% when based on full-time total remuneration. The largest gender pay gap occurred at very senior management levels (28.9%), followed by general managers (27.5%) then other managers (24.6%).