In a review of gender pay gap reporting across six countries, Australia and the United Kingdom were found to be lagging behind the rest of the world.
Published by King’s College London, the Bridging the Gap report looked at 11 indicators of gender pay gap reporting systems in Australia, France, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and the UK.
Australia ranked last with a score of 4 out of 11, equal to the score received by the UK.
“After nearly four decades of gender equality reporting in Australia, many organisations have gender equality policies in place, but evidence suggests that many policies are ineffective,” the report said.
The researchers noted that Australia’s Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 provided evidence of gender inequality and that acknowledgment of the problem would be limited without this legislation.
“However, the legislation is not sufficient to achieve significant change due to the absence of any mandate for positive action,” the report concluded.
Spain was the top-ranked country in the study with a score of 8.5 out of 11, followed by France with 8, South Africa with 5.5 and Sweden with 5.
Researchers from The Australian National University also released a companion report specifically looking at gender pay reporting in Australia.
The report looked at policy solutions that would allow Australia to “unleash the full potential” of its pay gap reporting legislation.
“Australia has a thorough, detailed and functioning reporting system. The process is there. But if the legislation is a machine, it is running on power saver mode,” said report co-author Dr Miriam Glennie.
“By pulling a small number of levers, Australia has a chance to ramp up progress on reducing the pay gap in the short to medium term.”
Among the changes suggested by the report are publishing the gender pay gaps of individual organisations, setting minimum performance standards that will require organisations to reduce the pay gap, and sanctioning organisations that don’t meet the standards.
“Without action, we remain a country that is stuck in low power mode while others outpace us,” said co-author Dr Anna von Reibnitz.
“We have the opportunity to ramp up support for the economic security of women, and we should take it.”