Key results from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency’s (WGEA) 2019-20 reporting data are in, with mixed results for the construction industry.
Always one of the industries with a high gender pay gap*, the construction industry is now rated as having the second-highest pay gap at 26.1 per cent – an increase of .1 per cent since 2019. On average, this equates to a difference of $36,361 in total renumeration between males and females. Only financial and insurance services rank higher.
National Chair of the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC), Kristine Scheul, said the report card results are disappointing given how much discussion and work has been undertaken to turn it around.
“That in 2020 we’re faced with an increase in the gender pay gap speaks to how much more engagement needs to be undertaken with our stakeholders,” she said.
“As one of our key advocacy pieces, we’ve been focused on working within the industry to reduce the pay gap below the national average. To have it actually increase is disheartening but we are looking forward to continuing our work with industry to change the trajectory.”
Not all results for the industry were negative however, with flexibility in construction industry workplaces up 9.1pp to 64.6 per cent – being one of the strongest improvements across the board.
There has also been a marked increase to paid parental leave, with the construction industry having risen by 10.7 per cent from 25.2 per cent in 2016/17 to 35.9 per cent in 2020.
“While COVID has recently played a role in fast-tracking flexible workplace solutions, we are happy to see such a marked increase, especially when measured against other industries. The increase in paid parental leave is also a very welcome statistic,” said Scheul.
Across the board, there has been a marginal improvement in gender balance at top levels, with female CEOs increasing slightly to 18.3 per cent (up 1.2pp) and female representation on boards increased by 1.3pp to 28.1 per cent.
Additionally, women now comprise 39.9 per cent of all managers, with 44.7 per cent of manager appointments in 2019-20 going to women.
“We look forward to seeing both these figures increase,” said Scheul. “Not just within construction but across all industries. At NAWIC, we actively encourage all industry sectors to employ women in leadership and decision-making roles so that whole-of-industry policy and cultural change is achieved actively and purposefully.”
The WGEA data is based on 4,943 reports submitted in accordance with the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 for the reporting period 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020.
Over four million employees in Australia are covered in this dataset, which accounts for more than 40 per cent of Australia’s workforce.
*The gender pay gap measures the difference between the average earnings of women and men, expressed as a percentage of men’s earnings. It is the difference between the pay of women and men, on average, across organisations, industries and the workforce as a whole.