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Thursday, 4 September 2014

Women generally have to work 15 months to earn the same amount their male colleagues do in a 12-month period.

It’s a concerning economic reality highlighted today on Equal Pay Day. To mark the day (Friday, September 5), BankSA will host an event with the Equal Opportunity Commission and South Australian Chiefs for Gender Equity, where South Australian CEOs will sign a statement of support for the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs).

The UN WEPs are a framework for gender equality, aimed at practical ways of investing, advancing and empowering women in the workplace. In Australia there are currently 16 signatories to the WEPs.

BankSA Chief Executive Nick Reade said last month’s ABS figures reporting an 18.2 per cent National Wage Gap between male and female earnings was staggering, and has called for urgent action from the business community to close the widening gap.

“This wage gap means that Australian women are currently earning just 81.8 cents for every dollar their male colleagues earn, down from an average of 85.1 cents a decade ago,” Mr Reade said.

“When you also consider that female participation rates are 12.3 per cent below male rates, and research shows a correlation between low levels of female engagement and a negative impact on economies, the importance of women’s engagement in the workplace cannot be overstated.”

Employers who address gender equity well will have women in senior roles, flexible work practices, parental leave to enable ‘sharing the caring’, and carers leave accessed equally by men and women.

Mr Reade said business leaders and employers can begin fostering gender equity by understanding the wage gap in their own workforces, and addressing the hidden factors that prevent women from reaching the most senior levels.

“Diversity and inclusion is a high priority for BankSA, with our flexible work options proving to be the biggest contributor to 56.8 per cent of BankSA leadership positions being held by women,” Mr Reade said.

“BankSA subscribes to the premise that you don’t have to be physically located in an office to perform a job, which has opened up career opportunities for our employees who need workplace flexibility.

Flexible work options including job sharing, working remotely, compressed days and aligning work to suit individuals’ personal circumstances have been embraced by BankSA’s workforce. And, with 44 per cent of roles within Chief Executive Nick Reade’s Leadership Team held by women, the organisation has set a powerful precedent from the top.

“Equal pay is not just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do, for our economy, for business and for productivity,” Mr Reade said.

“And for business, it begins with ensuring effective policy and practices exist in the workplace to enable men and women to progress their careers at consistent rates.’’