There will be some high-fiving in organisations and government departments around Australia today as we celebrate the lowest gender pay gap in recorded history. According to the workplace gender equality agency (WGEA), women only need to work an additional 62 days a year in order to receive, on average, the same amount of money as our male counterparts. Yes. 62 additional days. Every. Single. Year.
As a member of the half of the human race that must work more, to earn less, it’s days like today that remind me we still have some way to go. Whether you agree with the way the stats are calculated or not, it is hard to deny that women still suffer a penalty in the workplace, just for, well, being women. What’s worse, is that when we shift our focus to Australian home life, we can see, not only one of the main underlying causes of the pay gap, but an even bigger gap in equity when it comes to domestic labour.
So, on the eve of Father’s Day weekend, and on national pay equality day, I’m sharing 3 simple ways Dads can help make a more equitable future for their wives and daughters.
1. Pick up a broom, pick up your undies, pick up the kids from school.
As a working mother of 3 boys I do a lot of picking up, and I am not being completely facetious when I recommend that Dad’s start to pick up more things at home, literally and metaphorically. Taking on more of the domestic load at home is a step towards improved equity for us all. We’ve all nodded in validation when we read about the Household, Income & Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) reports that consistently highlight the unfair division of labour in Australian households.
It took an audit (yes, we did an audit) of the domestic chores that need to get done regularly in our home, to shine a light on the true inequity of said domestic chores. When the writing was on the wall (or in an excel spreadsheet), it was hard to ignore it, and things were able to change.
2. Hire, promote and believe in a capable woman.
WGEA research shows that discrimination and bias in hiring and pay decisions is still one of the main contributors to the gender pay gap in Australia. Giving women opportunities at work helps to level the playing field for women. The motherhood penalty at work is real, and supporting women back into work after having children, paying them what they are worth, and not assuming that being a mother negatively impacts career commitment, remain key enablers to improving not just financial independence for women, but equity in superannuation accumulation and retirement savings as well.
3. Take some time off work to raise your children.
Just like we need more senior female role models at work for our daughters to be mentored and inspired by, we need more Dad’s to become role models as primary carers. 2017 ABS data indicates that only 5% of Dads take primary parental leave, with 95% being taken by mothers. And if you missed the chance when your babies were little, you’ve still got the opportunity to negotiate a flexible work arrangement now so that you and your partner can share parenting responsibilities in a way that supports you both to pursue career and life fulfilment. The caring role becomes more of a two-person relay, and less of a one-person marathon. When we speak with many of the mothers that we work with at shethrives.org who are looking to change the shape of the way they integrate work and home, they share that they’re not necessarily looking for a 50:50 equal split, just a more equitable division of responsibilities at home that takes into account her professional and personal development.
Equal pay day is about more than just money. If Dads would like to see a more equitable future for their daughters, helping to change things for the women in their lives now might be the best place to start.