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Gender pay gap is number one issue

Gender pay gap is number one issue

There is nothing like a beautiful young actress speaking out to attract attention to an issue.

Jennifer Lawrence – Hunger Games, Amercian Hustle – is still making headlines after speaking out about how male actors are still paid more than female actors in Hollywood.

Remember that Sony hacking story with all its revelations about what men and women in tinsel town are paid? That is how the young actress discovered she was paid less than her male co-stars in some films.

Other actors including Bradley Cooper (American Hustle) and Emma Watson (Harry Potter) are backing Lawrence’s stand while the great Meryl Streep and Academy Award winner Patrician Arquette (she used her acceptance speech to talk about gender pay equity) are too.

Popular culture has a way of making its way into the workplace so expect gender pay to continue to be a hot button issue for your own female employees.

In fact according to research carried out by the Thomson Reuters Foundation amongst 9,500 women in G20 countries, gender pay equity is the top workplace issue for women in Australia and the US.

The research revealed the top five-workplace issues for G20 women. Other top issues for women in Australia are harassment (four in ten women said they had been harassed at work), men having better access to career opportunities, and working hours.

Just recently the chair of Transfield Diane Smith-Gander said men in Australia need to step aside so talented women can rise to the top.

Speaking after news of a draft bill requiring government boards to have at least 40 per cent female members, Smith-Gander told an Australian Institute of Company Directors lunch that gender equality would take male sacrifice.

A new 12-member board providing business advice to the PM has only two female members.

Smith-Gander says achieving 50:50 on that board and others would take “inevitably qualified and well-intentioned” men giving up their seat at the table.

“They are not going to want to lose their gig and that’s a sad and sorry thing, but that’s just the way it is. This is the problem we’re actually dealing with. Some men are going to have to give up their hard won roles to allow equality.”

Only 20 per cent of ASX200 directors in Australia are women despite a great deal of research showing gender diversity at the leadership level is good for profits.

To end on a bright note, the Thomson Reuters research show millennial women are upbeat about the future of women at work. It appears there is a lot more work to be done to justify that optimism but there are signs we are on the right track.

Personally I was buoyed by the swift action of V8 Supercars organisers to fine David Reynolds’ $25,000 for a sexist slur about the all-female Bathurst 1000 wildcard entry. Good on them.

As V8 Supercars CEO James Warburton said: “Reynolds’ comments were disgraceful and completely unacceptable in our sport…”

You have to bring your words to life when it comes to gender equality. Three cheers also to one of Australia’s most successful wealth management companies after it fired an employee on the spot for harassing women at a recent conference.

I would love to praise them publicly but cannot, as I was merely a fly on the wall. The male CEO though said “when you are trying to attract the best female candidates to a male dominated sector, you cannot tolerate that sort of behaviour even for a second.”


Blogger and coach Kate Southam has specialised in employment and careers for more than a decade.

Kate is a regular commentator on employment matters for a range of media. She has appeared on Sky News, Today, Sunrise, The Project as well as a wide range of radio shows around the country. While at news, Kate’s weekly advice column, Ask Kate appeared online and in more than 100 newspapers. While at News Corp Kate also wrote articles for a range of HR, recruitment and business publications plus a blog on work matters for called Cube Farmer.

More recently she has co-authored a book on job hunting for Wiley and provided articles or commentary to the, Thomason Reuters, the Mamamia network, 2UE, 4BC, 3AW and Kidspot to name a few. She is also a ghostwriter for a number of recruitment, business and HR experts.

Kate started her career as a journalist and has worked for the Sydney Morning Herald, ABC Radio, the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong and as a freelancer in London.

Twitter @KateSoutham

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