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

Equal pay 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. Our new research report Equal pay matters sheds light on the key barriers small and medium enterprises face in achieving equal pay.

Launched on Equal Pay Day (31 August), Equal pay matters examines the barriers to gender pay equality in small and medium organisations and how the sector can achieve equal pay.

Much of the available research on gender pay inequality has focused on large organisations, but much less is known about the nature, scale or drivers of pay inequality in small or medium organisations.

Industrial Relations Victoria, supported by the Equal Workplaces Advisory Council, engaged the Commission to carry out this research, focused on three objectives:

  1. Improving understanding of gender pay (in)equality in small and medium organisations
  2. Understanding the characteristics of small and medium organisations and the drivers of unequal pay in small and medium organisations, including how the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) has affected equal pay in such organisations
  3. Understanding what factors are likely to motivate small and medium organisations to achieve equal pay and inform the development of tailored educational resources and other measures to advance equal pay.

The report focuses on three industries – the arts, financial services, and healthcare and social assistance.

About two in three employed Victorians work in small or medium organisations. As such, the findings and recommendations in this report address the day-to-day reality, financial security, dignity and future of millions of Victorians, particularly women. The findings and recommendations in this report highlight the need for tailored education and targeted strategies that respond to the unique characteristics and needs of small and medium organisations. Our report provides a framework for achieving pay equality in these organisations and paves the way for policy makers, business, industry bodies, unions and regulatory bodies to work collaboratively to improve gender pay equality in small and medium organisations.

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Related resources

Business guide: Understanding why and how to achieve pay equality in small-to-medium businesses

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The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as First Australians and recognises their culture, history, diversity and deep connection to the land.

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