Men in Australia earn 22% more than women: report

STORY: Some of Australia's top corporations including Commonwealth Bank, national carrier Qantas Airways and energy giants like Woodside Energy have gender pay gaps bigger than the national average of 22%, the data revealed.

The average total remuneration gender pay gap for 2022/23 was 21.7% in favour of men, while the difference in median base pay was 14.5%, the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) said. Only one-third of companies have a median gender pay gap between the target range of -5% and +5%.

At the other end of the scale, the gap at supermarket operator Woolworths, one of Australia's biggest employers, was just 5.7%.

Several countries have been taking steps to force companies to report the difference in earnings of male and female staff. Britain in 2017 made it mandatory for all companies with more than 250 employees, resulting in the gap reducing over the years. The European Union enacted similar legislation in 2021.

[Katy Gallagher, Australia's Minister For Women]

"But you know, there is a substantial problem in this country when you've got essentially two thirds of businesses with a gender pay gap in favour of men. And we need to be honest about it, it's not about shaming, it's not about naming, it's not about saying men should be paid less, it's none of those things. It's about driving that change that we need to see in organisations to make sure that women are getting a fair crack at opportunity and that we are closing the gender pay gap over time. It's complex, there's no silver bullet, but this is part of the response."

[Mary Wooldridge CEO, Workplace Gender Equality Agency]

"But when you look at every industry across the board, the gender pay gap is in favour of men. It is a complex issue and in that in terms of the profile, even in the highest companies and in industries like construction and professional services, the financial services industries. Some gender pay gaps are actually close to zero while others may be at 30, 40 and 50%. So it's doable, change is possible, it just takes that motivation and it takes that action."