City bridging the gender pay gap

City of Sydney CEO Monica Barone, Lord Mayor Clover Moore and Director Workforce and Information Services Susan Pettifer. Image courtesy of City of Sydney
City of Sydney CEO Monica Barone, Lord Mayor Clover Moore and Director Workforce and Information Services Susan Pettifer. Image courtesy of City of Sydney

In a new policy move, the City of Sydney will soon start paying superannuation for up to 52 weeks for staff on parental leave.

The new policy is outlined in a Lord Mayoral Minute about the City’s gender pay gap which was endorsed by Council on 29 October 2018.

The Lord Mayor said the Minute showed that the City continues to be a national leader on gender pay equity.

“The City of Sydney is the first local government organisation to monitor and publicly report on gender pay equity. Our latest review revealed an overall gender pay gap of 7.5 per cent in favour of women – meaning on average we have more women employed in higher paying jobs, organisation-wide,” the Lord Mayor said.

“When men and women are compared in equivalent roles, there was a gender pay gap of 1.7 per cent in favour of men, which is an improvement of 1.1 per cent on 2017’s result and brings the City closer to pay parity. The gap is significantly lower than the national average of 14.6 per cent.

“Achieving gender equity is a critical issue, not just because it is the right thing to do, but also because it’s linked to improved national productivity and economic growth.

“But while important gains have been made around the world, no country has yet achieved full equality for women. In fact, the World Economic Forum predicts if we continue to move at the same pace, it will take 217 years to reach gender equality in the workplace globally – or at least five more generations. So we need change to happen faster.

“That’s why at the City we’ve made it a priority to look at what else we can do to close the gender pay gap, starting with the gap between men’s and women’s superannuation.

“It’s unfair that women are penalised by lower superannuation benefits when they retire because they take time out to look after children. It’s why we’re addressing the gap as a way for the City to continue attracting and retaining talented women who plan to have children during their career and to help address the economic inequities women face.”

City of Sydney CEO and Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) pay equity ambassador Monica Barone said the City would extend the superannuation benefits offered to employees on parental leave from 18 weeks to 52 weeks.

“On average by the time of retirement, a women accumulates half the superannuation of her male counterpart. This is in part because women are more likely to take extended leave to raise and care for children, including paid and unpaid parental leave,” Ms Barone said.

“Following in the footsteps of other leading organisations, we are extending parental leave benefits for superannuation to ensure women who take extended leave to have children are not financially disadvantaged.

“This new benefit will match the best offers made by both public and private organisations across Australia.

“It’s part of our ongoing efforts to improve workplace flexibility, offer enhanced leadership opportunities for staff across the organisation, and build our management capability to lead a diverse and inclusive workplace.”

According to a Diversity Council of Australia survey of its members, only around 10 per cent of organisations pay superannuation during unpaid parental leave periods.

Under the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012, non-public sector organisations with over 100 employees must report annually against a number of gender equality indicators, including remuneration. While councils are not required to report, the City started monitoring and reporting publicly on gender pay equity in 2015–16. The City’s reporting is reviewed by independent firm Mercer Consulting.

According to the WGEA, Australia’s national gender pay gap is currently 14.6 per cent. For public sector organisations, the gap is 10.5 per cent, and for private sector organisations it is 18.4 per cent.

The gender pay gap is the difference between women’s and men’s average weekly full-time equivalent earnings, expressed as a percentage of men’s earnings. The gap is influenced by a range of interrelated work, family and societal factors.

Pay equity is achieved when women and men receive equal pay for work of equal or comparable value. This means that women and men performing the same role at the same performance level are paid the same amount.

The City’s gender pay equity review is guided by the WGEA’s reporting framework for private sector organisations.

City of Sydney staff can currently access 52 weeks of parental leave – 18 weeks on full pay (or 36 weeks at half pay) and 34 weeks of unpaid leave.

Source: City of Sydney

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