Closing the gender pay gap in SMEs

29 June 2022

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (EOHRC) has launched a survey of businesses to help close the gender pay gap in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

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The Commission’s Equal Pay Matters report highlighted that SMEs face different challenges on addressing the pay gap.

Given about two in three employed Victorians work in small and medium enterprises (SMEs), the pay gap impacts a significant number of workers.

To help combat this, the Commission was funded by the Victorian Government in 2020 to undertake research to help bridge the pay gap. It has now been funded to co-design practical education materials to help support SMEs become equal pay leaders in the workplace.

To help inform the next steps around delivering the educational and practical guidance materials, the EOHRC is asking businesses employing 2-50 people to complete a short survey to learn more and provide feedback. The survey will run until 11.59 Monday 11 July.

Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner Ro Allen said: “We found that the biggest barrier to gender pay equality in SMEs was limited understanding of the concept of equal pay and how it affects SME workplaces.

“We also identified a range of internal structural and cultural drivers of gender pay inequality in SMEs, as well as external drivers, such as persistent harmful gender stereotypes and social norms, limited industry standards and benchmarking frameworks, limited unionisation and external economic and social forces such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

“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 SMEs.”

Based on workshop findings, EOHRC is developing materials such as informational videos and interactive activities and e-learning modules to help SMEs understand:

  • The concept of gender pay
  • Common drivers of gender pay inequality in SMEs
  • Compounded barriers faced by different cohorts of workers
  • The benefits of gender pay equality in SMEs
  • The legal obligations of SMEs to ensure equal pay

All products will be free and targeted at business owners/managers and decision makers at SMEs.

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