By Director Frances Feenstra
The recent news that the Matildas will soon earn the same pay as the Socceroos makes international history.
The Matildas will be the first women football team in the world to receive the same pay as their male counterparts when the Football Federation Australia and the Professional Footballers Association union formalise the agreement in coming days.
Both the male and female teams will evenly share 40 per cent of commercial revenue from ticket sales and broadcast deals despite the majority of the revenue being generated by the Socceroos. And importantly, the prize money will also be split evenly.
The Matildas climbed to fourth on the world stage in 2017 and have continued to play strongly. During the recent Women’s World Cup, they captivated audiences, consistently reaching the knockout stages. But despite this, they received just $1 million compared to the Socceroos who failed to win a single game but were given $8 million, simply for qualifying.
FIFA offered female players $540 million less prize money during the World Cup season than they offered at the men’s World Cup.
While the new deal is great news for our elite women playing footy, it’s worth remembering that Australia’s full-time gender pay gap is still a staggering 14 per cent. Across the spectrum, women earn on average $241.50 per week less than men. The finance and insurance industries are the worst with a 24.4 per cent gap, according to the Federal Government’s Workplace Gender Equity Agency.
The notion of ‘equal pay, equal work’, introduced in 1969, and the 1984 anti-discrimination based on sex legislation has had little impact with the gap hovering between 14 and 19 per cent for 20 years.
When we discuss gender equity, we’re not just talking about decent work practices, women in positions of power or fair pay for footballers. Gender inequality occurs at home, at work, in school, in hospitals and on our screens. While individuals will benefit from gender balance, it benefits us all as it generates prosperity, economic growth and national competitiveness. And it’s why the Matildas’ deal provides such a great opportunity to discuss the issues.
The gender pay gap is influenced by a number of factors, including:
discrimination and bias in hiring and pay decisions
women and men working in different industries and different jobs, with female-dominated industries and jobs attracting lower wages
women’s disproportionate share of unpaid caring and domestic work lack of workplace flexibility to accommodate caring and other responsibilities, especially in senior roles
women’s greater time out of the workforce impacting career progression and opportunities.
When People Measures’ consultants engage with public and private sector leaders around Australia, we are often asked questions which are some variation of a question posed by Harvard Kennedy School Professor Iris Bohnet in her book What Works: Gender Equity by Design: How can we convert good intentions into meaningful action that will better support the next generation of men and women?
So, what works?
People Measures leadership research in partnership with the 100% Project has demonstrated that while any leadership on this issue is better than none, Adaptive Leadership is the most effective leadership style for cultivating an organisational culture that is supportive of promoting women to senior leadership positions. Organisations with greater adaptive capacity are more likely to have a higher number of women in senior leadership positions. Currently women are over-represented in HR and corporate functions with a recent CEW survey finding that only 12 per cent of the revenue-generating "line" roles, which are a stepping stone to the chief executive's job, are occupied by women.
If we had and adaptive leadership culture where more women were promoted across all functions of business, we should see the pay gap diminish.
How do we build greater adaptive capacity?
Continue to invest in developing leaders who are equipped to lead ‘adaptively’
Value constructive conflict. When issues are raised challenges can be identified and discussed and new approaches can be experimented with, no matter how large or sensitive the issue.
Put the spotlight on senior management. Senior management play a crucial role in cultivating an environment of respect and trust that enables change.
Adopt a shared approach to leading and managing. A key attribute of adaptive leadership is that leadership, decision-making and idea generation should be distributed through levels of an organisation.
Promote collective engagement and learning. An experimental approach and a mindset of ‘making progress’ rather than 'fixing’ means that new ways of thinking can be entertained and people feel less need to have the ‘one true answer’.
Become aware of and open to challenging beliefs and values. Our beliefs and values influence our behaviours and collectively they determine the actions we take and the culture we create. Being prepared to challenge our long held beliefs and values is the key to moving to more gender equitable workplaces.
At People Measures we believe that true leadership is not about knowing exactly where you want to end up, or knowing exactly how you will get there, but about being comfortable experimenting. Australia has a problem when it comes to gender equity. It is an old, seemingly intractable problem. We are inviting everyone to experiment together, try some new things, be open to the experience and see where we end up.
Contact People Measures to learn how we can help you become an employer of choice while creating a fairer and more productive workplace.