The Continued Fight for Pay Equity
Lisa Wilkinson set the internet on fire last night with her shock and immediate departure from Channel 9, reportedly because they were unable to reach a decision in relation to her demands for equal pay.
Gender pay disparity is a real and serious issue in the workplace.
The Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) identify that the current gender pay gap in Australia is 15.3%. It has hovered between 15% and 19% for the past two decades.
Alarmingly, the the lowest gender pay gap between the years of 1997 and 2017 was actually in November 2004, when the gap was only 14.9%. Unfortunately, this means gender pay equality has actually gone backward since November 2004, despite the increased conversation, education and public focus on it.
This is why it is so important for respected and experienced female role models, like Lisa, to stand their ground and demand equality.
The internet was flooded with positive messages last night for Lisa, and a number of other high profile females publically recognised her including Tracey Spicer (another significant advocate for equality in the workplace) tweeting “on behalf of #womeninmedia THANK YOU @Lisa_Wilkinsontaking a stand over #equalpay as a role model for @WIM_Aus” and Carla Zampatti saying “congratulations to a strong and influential woman for taking a stance on equality and trailblazing for all generations of Australian women. @lisa_wilkinson.”
I agree. What a true role model.
Reports suggest that Lisa was paid approximately $1M less than Karl Stefanovic at approximately $2M. To do the same job. And in my opinion — if you were to relate it to performance-based pay — Lisa does the job much better job!
It is so disappointing, that whilst Channel 9 did consider her request for equal pay with her co-host, and came back to her agent with a significantly increased remuneration package — it was still $200,000 short of Karl’s.
Sadly, this happens to women time and time again. Women’s pay continually seems to fall short. And increasingly so for females in senior-level roles.
Not all women are in the fortunate position of Lisa, to be offered another senior role immediately, and so they are left with little option but to put up with the pay disparity in order to keep their job.
Workplace Gender Equality Agency boss Elizabeth Lyons said Wilkinson’s dramatic departure from Channel 9 resonated with the Australian public because “gender pay gaps are real. This is not only an issue for the stars and high-profile personalities but all women. Our data shows that in the free-to-air TV sector, men earn 22 percent more than women on average”.
Ms. Lyons recently suggested that it could be another 50 years before women start to see pay equality, telling a Senate inquiry in July of this year that “recent analysis has estimated the number of years for the gender pay gap to close across a range of countries, including Australia. The analysis estimates that Australia is 50 years away from closing the pay gap, with some countries as far as 300 years away.”
For now — Lisa has certainly put gender pay equity back on the agenda through her firm stance and demands for equal pay from a major Australian corporation. This will no doubt ripple through the media industry, and one can only hope that it will provide females with increased confidence to also stand their ground and demand equal pay for the same role.