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IWD 2024: The role of technology and data in paving a future of equity and progress
Thu, 7th Mar 2024

On this year’s International Women’s Day, there has never been a more crucial time to look unflinchingly at the role technology and data can play as a catalyst for meaningful change.

Case in point: the gender pay gap.

If there was ever any doubt that the gender pay gap still exists, data released late last month from the Australian Government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) should put that to bed. Not only does the data show that two thirds of Australian businesses with staff of 100 people or more have a gender pay gap that favours men over women, but also that dozens of those organisations have a pay gap of over 50%.

It’s easy to become disheartened by the complexities of the problem. But at ELMO, we believe that equipping organisations with the tools and data they need to make informed decisions is the way forward.

Pay initiatives that move the dial

One of the primary issues holding organisations back from gauging the effectiveness of their efforts to close the gender pay gap is the arduous nature and complexity of the reporting process. Measuring the gap once a year as a statutory requirement doesn’t provide the continuous feedback that organisations need to ensure their initiatives to close the pay gap are actually moving the dial in the right direction.

The first place to start is an organisation’s remuneration review. Many organisations go through this process using multiple spreadsheets shared between finance teams, department heads and managers. Add in gender pay gap analysis - and it’s an almost impossible juggle for companies using spreadsheets. They will be unable to predict the impact of the salary reviews and whether the proposed salary increases would help to reduce the pay gap or exacerbate existing inequalities.

As an organisation of more than 400 employees, ELMO understood these issues only too well.

Last year, we fully implemented our own remuneration software. The use of technology and data-driven reporting gave us more authority to address the topic of the gender pay gap and identify change in three key areas.

Firstly, we were able to identify the areas within the organisation with the largest gender pay gaps, the knowledge that is needed in order to make focussed change rather than less effective blanket initiatives.

Secondly, the reports offered a deep dive into incentives and benefits, an area where gender pay gaps often persist. Looking beyond headline-based salary numbers, organisations can pinpoint disparities and design targeted interventions.

Lastly, the remuneration software had rules-based controls embedded to ensure that suggested remuneration changes were gender agnostic and in line with our remuneration policy. Because when remuneration decisions are solely left up to individuals, unconscious bias can creep in.

From words to actions: the economic imperative to closing the gender pay gap

We’re taking the use of technology one step further this year with the recent launch of our Gender Equality Reporting tool, designed to empower conversations on workplace equality and reduce the onerous process of annual WGEA reporting.

We’ve developed the tool in response to feedback that organisations were struggling to meet their gender pay gap reporting obligations in a timely and accurate manner. Rather than an arduous once-a-year event, they will now be able to monitor their metrics throughout the year. This process of continuous feedback will help identify the initiatives that are truly making a difference when it comes to closing an organisation’s gender pay gap.

The moral argument for closing the gender pay gap is a given. We believe the debate now needs to shift to the economic imperative because not closing the gender pay gap may be costing companies more than they think.

ELMO’s research shows that 48% of Australian women would consider leaving their organisation if they discovered it had a large gender pay gap. While walking out may not be realistic in these tough economic times, the research showed that women are also more likely to ‘quiet quit’, with one in five saying that they wouldn’t try as hard if they found out their organisation’s gender pay gap significantly favoured men.

A disengaged workforce is one of the hidden costs of the gender pay gap - a cost that will deliver a significant blow to the productivity and bottom line of every business.

Now is the time for action

The next round of WGEA reporting is due on 1 April. Now is the time for organisations to get on the front foot with a detailed audit to truly understand their pay gap data and what’s driving the inequality.

By shedding light on gender pay gaps, offering actionable insights, and empowering organisations to make informed decisions, technology becomes an instrumental force in driving us towards an equitable future.