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Supporting equal pay for smaller organisations

Our new report, Equal pay matters: Achieving gender pay equality in small-to-medium enterprises, examines the barriers to gender pay equality in small and medium organisations. This report fills a gap in research and policy on gender pay inequality, which until now has focused mainly on large employers. We’re proud to release this report on Equal Pay Day and announce its findings and recommendations are already driving action: the Victorian Government is funding us to develop practical and foundational guidance for smaller organisations to help close the gender pay gap.

31 August 2021

Today – Equal Pay Day – marks the 61 extra days from the end of the financial year that women must work, on average, to earn the same amount as men earned in the year (Equal Pay Day)*.

Being paid fairly and equally for work of equal or comparable value is a basic human right. Regardless of where we work – or our sex, gender, race or age – we are all entitled to be paid and treated fairly at work.

The gender pay gap is an insidious problem and speaks to broader issues of inequality in our workforce and discriminatory attitudes of gender. It tells us women’s work is still not treated as being of equal value to that of men.

Smaller businesses have a big opportunity to close gender gap

Our research has exposed that small to medium organisations face unique barriers to achieving equal pay. The most significant is the limited understanding of the concept of equal pay (including being paid equally for work of comparable value) and the recognition that pay equality is indeed an issue for smaller organisations.

Being underpaid is dehumanising, devaluing and unfair. With about two in three working Victorians employed in small and medium organisations, the gender pay gap is impacting these women’s lives, dignity, financial security, and independence.

There is not a one-size-fits-all approach: what works for large employers will often not work for smaller-scale businesses. Our research found that pay inequality in smaller organisations is driven by:

  • a limited understanding of equal pay and how to apply it
  • internal structures – such as lack of transparency around pay and limited access to flexibility and parental leave
  • external elements – such as harmful gender stereotypes, limited industry standards, as well as increased vulnerability to external changes such as COVID-19.

Our report makes ten recommendations to support small to medium organisations to understand equal pay, why it matters and to take action to achieve pay equality. We also want to address the external environment to enable these businesses to make progress.

Read the report: Equal pay matters: Achieving gender pay equality in small-to-medium enterprises

A pathway to equal pay

The opportunity is ripe to build equal pay knowledge, recognition of the issue and encourage small and medium organisations to commit to change. With funding from the Victorian Government we are developing training resources to support this sector to understand the economic and workplace diversity benefits to embedding equal pay in their operations.

These resources will be available in 2022. Businesses interested to act now can read more about the concept, benefits and pathways to equal pay.

*We recognise the current methodology for calculating Equal Pay Day does not take into account the overrepresentation of women in part-time work or accurately reflect women employed in small and medium businesses or women’s intersectional discrimination. We also recognise lack of intersectional data and acknowledge that the pay gap is even greater for many women, including women of colour and women with disabilities (Women’s Agenda).

Media contact

Aram Hosie
Mobile: 0447 526 642


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Related resources

Equal pay matters: Achieving gender pay equality in small-to-medium enterprises


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