Delivering pay equity requires a “carrot and stick” approach, and presently there is insufficient stick, the chair of the House of Reps inquiry Sharryn Jackson has said. After 17 months, 150 submissions and 29 pub hearings, the inquiry’s Making it Fair: Pay equity and associated issues related to increasing female participation in the workforce report intends putting that right with 63 recommendations attacking the issue from all sides. “It is clear from the evidence presented to the Inquiry that the gender pay gap in Australia has grown, especially since 1992,” the report’s foreword by Jackson says. “We have gone backwards.” At its heart “is the failure to truly value traditional women’s work – paid or unpaid”.
At the media conference after the launch, Jackson said the report talked of the need for a “carrot and stick” approach to pay equity. Regarding the former, she “applauded” the EOWA’s best practice awards for being “incredibly effective”. But less effective has been the stick and she believe moving the EOWA into Fair Work Aust (FWA) with additional responsibilities around pay equity – including audits – would help drive this. Jackson said the Inquiry had heard from organisations that had conducted a gender equity audit and been “confronted by things they hadn’t expected”. Once these were addressed they experienced “considerable improvements in productivity”. (see More powers under IR and discrim)