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Today at the National Press

Club - a special gender equity

forum. 40 years after

Australia's first equal pay

case, women still earn just 84%

of what their male counterparts

get paid. A panel of

government, business and

academic figures, including the

status of women minister Tania

Plibersek will today discuss

why there's still a pay

disparity.

Ladies and gentlemen,

welcome to the National Press

Club and today's National

Australia Bank address. It's a

great pleasure to host

something a bit different

today. Not that the subject is different, we've been talking

about it for decades but we

don't seem to have made the

progress that many people think

we should've and certainly many

people hoped we would. For

obvious reasons, there are

people who know far more about

this subject than I do and one

of them is Misha Schubert, my

distinguished colleague from

the board of the National Press

Club and the political

correspondent of the 'Age' in

Melbourne, and she is going to

moderate today's event. Please

welcome Misha to tell you how

it's all going to be run.

Thank you very much, Ken.

Can I add my welcome to you all to the National Press Club

today for this very special

forum on gender equity issues.

We're very pleased today to

have amongst us Liz Broderick

the sex discrimination

commissioner and Anna McPhee

who heads the agency for equal

opportunity for women in the

workplace. Unfortunately, Sam

Newman was not able to make it

today. (LAUGHTER) But we will

be thinking of him. Before I

begin, we'll have a moderated

panel debate at the outset and

then draw in our work

journalists who will hopefully

put our distinguished panel

under the grill. And the

background to this issue is as

Ken has said a very

long-running one. On 16

December 1972, just a couple of

months before I was born, the

front page of the 'Age' for

whom I now work carried the

banner headline "Victory for

women in equal pay case." The

day before the full bench of the quaen Commonwealth arbitration commission had

handed down the second of its

land mark judgments which

enshrined in Australian law the

principles that women should be

paid the same wages as men for

doing the same work, a shock

leap forward in our history!

And for work of comparable

value. In the three-stage

battle, unions pushed first for

the basic principle to be recognised, then pursued a test

case to eliminate the

persistent 25% pay gap between

men and women's wages and

finally reopened the national

equal pay case represented by

barrister Mary gau dron, to

extend the principle to ensure

that women performing

predominantly women's work

would get the same pay as men.

Fast forward 35 years and it

remains illegal for an employer

to pay women less than men for

performing the same job but

what has refused to disappear

is the gap between the average

earnings of men and women. The

gap has opened again in recent

years. We'll spend some time

with our panel in a moment

discussing why that's been the

case and what, if anything,

should be done about T but

first, to set the scene and to

convey the government's

thinking on this issue, we are joined by the federal minister

for the status of women, Tania Plibersek. Tania has had a

long-standing interest in

innovative public policy,

dating back to her life before

being elected to the Federal

Parliament. Those who've known

her for quite some time might

even assert she is a wit of a

wonk. We're keen to hear

prescription for what

government can or should do

about the gender pay gap. Would

you please welcome Tania Plibersek. (APPLAUSE) Thank

you very much for that

introduction, Misha, I think! Fortunately we're living in

world where being awud of being

a policy wonk is no longer a crime that

crime that you get booed off

stage for. I want to start

acknowledging that we're

meeting today on the land of

the Ngunawal people and pay

respect to their elders. I

thank Ken for his introduction

and for his invitation to be at the National Press Club for the

second time in a fortnight.

It's always great to be up here

being questioned by some of the

best and brightest in the

country! We're very lucky today

also to have Liz also to have Liz Broderick the Sex Discrimination

Commissioner, Anna McPhee, the

head of the office for equal

opportunity for women in the

workplace, and Julia Burns, the

head of the office for women,

here with us. You all know that

women earn on average about 50%

less than men. Data source and

income measures vary, but on

almost every measure, women are

earning less than men. The

impact of that long-term

inequity is that we now have a

generation of women who are

retiring with on average less

than half the retirement

savings of men. It's a serious

issue for our nation. It's not

just a historical problem. The

generation of women who are

entering the work force today

continues to face a career of

lower earnings. From the moment

a woman enters the work force

she is likely to earn less than

her male colleagues regardless

of her career, industry or

level. There are exceptions to

this, but they are few and far

between. Male graduates are commencing employment on a

median salary of $45,000 a

year, while female graduates

are starting work on about

$3,000 per annum less. We know

that the causes of pay inequity

are complex. Firstly, women's

employment is concentrated in

lower-paying industry sectors

and occupations. The huge pay

gap that's opened up in Western

Australia, for example, is due

to the mining boom and is

largely driven by the fact that

men are more likely to work in

the mining sector and in

related fields. Secondly, women

are more likely to take time

out of the work force to raise

children or to care for ageing

or other dependent relatives.

Caring is good, our community

relies on carers, but the

economic costs to those carers

go beyond immediate lost

earnings, to lower lifetime

earnings and lower retirement

incomes. Thirdly, women's

skills are sometimes

undervalued. With women still

being paid less than men for

doing essentially the same job

in some areas. Our equal

opportunity for women in the

workplace agency released workplace agency released a

gender income distribution of

top earners report on pay

disparity at senior levels of

the top 200 companies on the

Australian stock exchanges. It

found that female CEOs earn two

thirds of the median wage of

male CEOs and female chief

financial officers and chief

operating officers earn just

half the median wage of their

male equivalent. So you're

talking about the top earners in in the top companies in

Australia. That's not about

gender segregation in the work

force or seniority or

responsibility. That gap is

caused by something else. We

don't know what that is. The

challenge for the government is

to act where we can. We know

that pay equity for women got worse under WorkChoice and we

have to redress some of the

drivers of that growing pay

gap. The Rudd Government will

restore a fair and balanced

industrial relations system. We industrial relations system. We are providing support for women

in a number of ways, including

through our national employment

standards, 12 months of unpaid

parental leave for each parent

or if the family prefers, one

parent can request an

additional 12 months leave

which the employer may only

refuse on reasonables with

business grounds. A parent may

request flexible working

arrange mejts until their child

reaches school age, which the

employer may also only refuse

on reasonable business grounds.

I'm sure Mark will have

something to say about this

later. Bargaining. No more

AWAs. We know that AWAs were

behind some bad pay results for

vulnerable workers, including

many women. Also, the Australian Industrial Relations

Commission must have regard to

and promote the principle of

equal remuneration for work of

equal value in the award modernisation pro session of the collective agreements will only be approved only be approved where they

leave employees better off

overall than the safety net of

the modern award system and the

national employment standards.

Women on collective agreements

earn higher average rates of

pay than women on awards or

individual AWAs agreements and

the gender pay gap is narrower

under those collective

agreements. In terms of unfair dismissal, employees who've been unfairly dismissed will be been unfairly dismissed will be

entitled to bring a claim for

unfair dismissal subject to

minimum qualifying periods.

We're working also on easing

the pressure on working mothers

and their families by

delivering better quality, more

affordable, more available

child care. The establishment

of an office for work and

family, and the Productivity Commission examination into

paid maternity leave. The equal

opportunity for women in the

workplace agency will continue to work with business and to work with business and I've

asked them to focus on pay

equity issues in their work.

The Australian Fair Pay

Commission has commissioned

research into factors

influencing gender pay equity

in Australia and in particular,

with a particular focus on

low-paid employment. Next week,

will see a budget delivered

that I hope and I believe will

encourage greater participation of women in

of women in the work force. The State Governments have been

plugging away at this issue for

many years and they've been

doing it with not much support from the Australian Government,

and I'm pleased to announce

today that the Australian

Government will become party to

the Commonwealth States

Territories and New Zealand

ministers' conference on the

status of women national pay

equity working party. This is

the body that the previous

government stood aloof from,

and I'm happy to say that we have signed up to that

recently. We want to use the

best minds of our government and all of the evidence

available and we're looking forward to working with the

States and Territories on that

issue. Since being appointed

the minister for the status of

women, I've asked my office for

women to focus really on providing much more substantial

policy advice, including in

this area. I want the research skills and the information

available to OFW to be used to

assist my colleagues to get

better results on pay equity.

There's no simple way of

addressing this issue. It will

require a whole of community

approach. It will require the

input of business and the

community more generally. And

to start off that process last

week the office for women

hosted a round-table with

people from the community,

academics who've worked in this

area and others, to discuss

ways of progressing gender pay

equity. I'm looking forward to

leading many more of those

active discussions to focus on

the result that we want to

achieve, which is a smaller pay

gap between men and women. I

also want to say that pay

inequality or pay inequity determines to a large extent

who does a lot of the work at

home. The unpaid work. And I

think in many ways, discourages

or prevents fathers from

playing a more active role with

their families, and

experiencing the fulfilment

that that can bring. It opens

up much broader questions about

care and unpaid work in our

community, and how we value

carers. Pay equity's

fundamental to the strength of

our economy. Recruiting and

retaining skilled female

workers is a solution to the

skills shortage and a benefit

to the Australian economy and

workplaces more generally, and

most importantly, equality

between men and women is a

principle that lies at the

heart of a fair and just

Australia. And a productive Australia. And it's one that

the government's committed to supporting. Thanks.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you very much, Tania.

Now, of course, this wouldn't

be much of a debate at all if everyone agreed with each other

so we're delighted that Professor Mark Wooden the

deputy director of the

Melbourne Institute of applied

economic and social research at

the University of Melbourne has

agreed to join us today. He has

written extensively about trends trends and issues in the

workplace over his long career

and two months ago you leapt

into print with an opinion

piece arguing essentially that

whilst there was a sizeable

gender pay gap in Australia, governments can't really do

much about it and that just

because some occupations seem

better rewarded than others,

provides no case for

intervening in the market. Why

not? Thank you, Misha. My take

on this is that the - there are

a number of reasons for a number of reasons for the

gender pay equity gap. The

minister has touched on a

number of those. But the

biggest one counts for easily

the majority of this, is the

lesser rates of career

progression among women

compared to men. Again, the

minister talked about that

briefly. When you look at for

example the unskilled, there

really is no gender pay gap, OK, amongst people

OK, amongst people on low pay.

The gaps start to emerge as we

move up the income spectrum,

and look at high-paid

occupations. And essentially,

it's because the earnings we

earn - our earnings power grows

as we accumulate experience and

skills, and the simple fact is

that men on average accumulate

these things at a faster rate

than women do. One of the

problems - childbirth, so there

are career interruptions that

occur there and that is

something that the government

can help with and of course we

all know about what's happening

with maternity leave at moment

so that's moves afoot there and

the other area is just simply

that men work longer hours on

average so you tend to find

that high achievers and it's

the high achievers the high achievers where these

big gaps occur, are working

these 50, 6 #0, 70 hour work

weeks. Not always! (LAUGHTER)

Is that all?! Exactly. So then

we have a look at gender

segregation amongst politicians

and we tend to find it's not so

many women as men presumably

though that's changing

gradually. The question is:

what can we do to presumably

promote women more rapidly in

their careers? Now, that leads

down the path of affirmative

action I guess. But in

Australia at least what I

understand affirmative action

to mean is really equal

opportunity and I think we do have equal opportunity by and

large in our workplaces. If I

take my employer, University of

Melbourne, it's continually

winning awards as employer of

choice, for equal opportunity,

but the facts are that the

proffesoriate is overwhelmingly

male and remains so and while

that remains the case, there

will be a gender pay gap.

Professors and senior lecturers

are paid the same but fewer

women are getting to the top.

It has a lot to do with the

women are not prepared to put

in the 50 hour work weeks. What

can they do about that? Affirmative Affirmative action will not

work because what you need is

inequality of opportunity. The

programs to have promote women

over men irrespective of what's

the better person for the job.

I think that's actually illegal

at the moment, is it not,

minister? So that's not going

to happen. I don't think it's

consistent with the values of

Australians. The other thing

people talk about is making work for family work for family friendly. If we

can make it easier for women to

combine family and work, then

maybe they can pursue careers.

There is an element there that

will help. Particularly with

career interruptions. But at

the end of the day, it's not

going to turn so many women

into pursuing these long-hours

jobs. You only have to look at

an economy like Sweden, which

is widely regarded as having

the most family-friendly

policies in the world, yet

their gender pay gap is very

little different from here and

in fact, in terms of females

cracking into the boardroom,

very few Swedish women are in senior management positions,

far less than in America, for

example, which is not known for

its family friendliness. Well

ale some back to some of those

points. Unions and businesses

have at times worked together

and at times have significant

differences with each other

about how these issues should

be pursued. When unions were

leading those charges industry

often took the opposite view.

Heather Ridout, you have taken

the reins of a major industry

lobby. Why has industry

traditionally been hostile to

these developments and is there

any evidence that that's

changeing? As a woman who works

more than 50 hours a week,

there has been a huge change of

view by industry over the

years. A couple of weeks ago,

we put we put a joint opinion piece

together in the 'Age', your

paper, on paid maternity leave.

It's a good thing. I remember

when Pru Goward was in Liz's

job and Scott Scott Scott and

myself and her, we had another

go at maternity leave. As a

result, the baby bonus was

introduced. We can claim some

of the credit for that the

interesting thing about that

debate was there was a view

that all women should get it,

not just working women. Women

didn't serve themselves well in

that debate but that's for

another time. In terms of

business's approach to this

thing - business is really

growing up against it. A lot of discrimination against women is

unconscious. They don't realise

a lot of it is happening but

they then have to make a

conscious decision to review

their pay and remuneration

structures with that front of mind. That means looking at

just not pay, but overtime

access a whole lot of bonus

arrangements, so those sorts of things have to be looked at.

The other thing that I think

business has to have a big look

at at is part-time work, which

I had when I had very young

children, but we need to give

those women access to promotion

and to training and skills

development. And that needs to

be an active strategy by

business, and I think a lot of

them are actually learning

that. In the manufacturing

sector, which is a big part of

your membership, there is a

much more conscious approach on

this issue. That's a very conservative industry. And

companies like General Motors,

answers treatmently progive

company in this ae, even though

they only employ 10% of women

in their factories. I think

business is getting over this

divide. They need smart women.

GM want smart engineers A lot

of them are women. I hope in my

small way, as a leader of a

very traditional but very Hyny

bright industry organisation,

we can set a good example. We

introduced maternity leave into

my group when I took over and

more than 50% of our senior

advisers are now women and the

senior echelon, about a third.

Them are now women. And I think

- and that will change. I think

more women assume leadership

positions, these things will

change. If I hadn't assumed

that job, I suspect it would

not have changed in our own

organisation that much. So we

need to get more critical women

at the top, critical mass of

women at the top, and business,

I think, given skills shortages, given the emphasis

on talent, I think, will - it

can happen. But I'm very - I'm

not sanguine unless we actively

manage it at will. Because

that's basically what we've

seen in recent years. Just let

education deal with it. It

won't . And a N women in this

room and myself had the great pleasure last year to host the

women's leaders network of APEC

and there are a lot of Russian

women there. They said women

are more highly educated than

any man in Russia, but the pay

equity issues are huge over there. And it's

there. And it's the same in

Canada. More women than men who

are graduates but they're still

not in the professions where

they get access to highly paid

jobs. So don't just think

education will solve the

problem. There has to be active management. Thank you very

much, Heather. (APPLAUSE)

Two years ago n an

Two years ago n an innovative project designed to

be rather unusually transparent, the National

Australia Bank and the Finance

Sector Union joined forces to

audit gender pay equity across

the NAB operations as part of

their enterprise bargaining agreement. Ilona Charles you're

a senior executive with the

NAB. Your company has faced the

music and found a gap of 63%, I

think it is. On the face of it

an eye opener but that's on par

with the whole finance sector

as I understand it. What will

as I understand it. What will

you do about it? (LAUGHTER) Very complex

issue! Yes, we did take a

leading position on doing the

audit and deliberately were

transparent. I don't think it's

something that you can lose on.

I think it's really important

that we are not directly

discriminating against our

women in our workplace and the

audit found that we were not

directly discriminating based

on like for like roles. Yes, we

on like for like roles. Yes, we do have a rather large average

pay gap which is consistent

with the industry and not

satisfactory quite frankly and

we do need to do something

about it. Similar to what Mark

said, the issues are complex

and they'll take some time to

work through. The prime

findings that we came out with,

one was around where women are

in our workplace. So 60% of

NAB's work force are women.

Mostly in our teller positions,

part-time positions. Most of

the men are in our senior

management and CEO roles. We do

have a few senior executive

women, one of which I am, but

I'm in HR. So it's a support

function and many of our senior

women are in support

women are in support functions.

So job segregation was actually

the biggest issue that we found

and that is not easy to fix.

Heather's point, we need to

start to get a critical mass of

women into our revenue generating parts of our business and that needs to be

role modelled by our men and

our women in terms of how we recruit, the systems that we

have in place and a whole range

of things, including flexible work

work practices. For us, it's a

cultural change journey. It's

not an issue of discrimination.

We have an abundance of

family-flexible work policies.

We have - we're not breaking

the law in any sense. However,

it's really difficult to

actually get the role modelling

happening and for our time to

want to work up into those

senior positions that are very long hours. We have

long hours. We have to remove

those barriers to enable those women to get into those

roles. (APPLAUSE) Thank you

very much. On a day when the

Productivity Commission has

begun its hearings into paid maternity leave in Australia

and after weeks of budget

speculation about whether various family payments and

baby payments might be means

tested, I'm sure our press

might have a few questions. Our

might have a few questions. Our

first question is from Mark

Netherall with the 'Sydney

Morning Herald'. Thank you,

Misha. Ms Plibersek, do you -

can you undertake that the pay

gap under the Rudd Government

will close, and if so, can you

nominate the single greatest

influence that will help that?

It's our intention that over

time the pay gap with close. I

think that changing the

industrial relations system to

support the interests of more

vulnerable workers will be

potentially the most important

part of that. I think some of

the things that Mark was saying

earlier, I guess represent some

of the barriers that we have to

overcome. I think the

description that Mark gave of

universities and how most of

the proffesorial positions end

up being filled by men, that's

not just a matter of women's

broken working patterns or caring responsibilities. I

think that reflects something

that is a challenge for us as a

community and that is that

senior people employ people

like them, and you see that in

organisations all the time,

that people employ younger

versions of themselves. That's

not something that we can fix

from government. But it is

something that we need to be

aware of as a community, and

dale spender told a good story at International Women's Day on

a panel we had on that day

saying she had a friend blo was

doing the pay negotiations for

a very senior person in a

university, a very good woman

they wanted to come on board,

and she took the first pay

offer that was paid to her, and

dale's friend who was employing

her saying, I was sitting there

wishing she had pushed me for

more money. As our opening

offer we would've paid her much

more than that. And Dale made

the point that that's not how

the negotiation should work. If

they value her well enough to

seek her out and offer her a

job, the university management should be considering what people in like positions at

their university are being

paid, whether they are men or

women. So there's's attitudal

things like that that we need

to change. This other issue of

long hours equalling

productivity, I think, is something that we

... (LAUGHTER) That we need to

think about in Australia as

well. I think that a lot of

people waste a lot of time at

work. And not me, obviously. (LAUGHTER) But some

people I have heard do. And if

we support a long-hours culture

that says unless you are

working 60 or 70 hours a week,

we're not just doing a disservice to women, we're

doing a disservice to men, too,

and to their families. And to

their young children. We know

that a significant proportion

of men in Sydney spend more

time now commuting than they do

with their children every week.

That idea, that high performers

are in the office, you know,

till 9 o'clock at night and

every weekend on the weekend as

well, I think that's something

we need to challenge and I

think that modern managers are

breaking up work in different

ways, because they valued the

skill set of a person, they say

"You are good at this part of

this job, I understand your

requirement is that you don't

want to be here 70 hours a

week, so I will give you this

part of this job and I will

hive off some of the rest of

it." Again, that's not something that you do from

government, but it is a culture

change that we need in our

community so that managers

understand that it is possible

to do some jobs that are

important jobs, difficult,

complex, technical jobs,

whatever, three days a week,

not five days a week or six

days a week, as many people are

working at the moment. So that

issue of managerial creativity

is a very important one as

well. Our next question is from

Sarah Smyles from the

'Age'. It's a question for the

minister and also Heather.

Yesterday Wayne Swan said he

thought paid maternity leave was a good idea, first to the

minister, do you also think

this is a good idea? And

looking at some of the schemes

... That's a tough one! Yes,

I do think it's a good

idea. (LAUGHTER) Looking at

some of the schemes that are

being discussed at the moment,

do you think Australian women

should be settling for what the

ACTU's proposal is the bare

bones, 14 weeks on minimum

wage, or whether or not they

should be pushing for the best possible scheme, for example,

the one that's been proposed by

Julie Perry? I'm not going to

pick a scheme. We've only had a

couple of days, really, of

public hearings. We've got

until February, when the Productivity Commission

reports. I don't know what other information will become

available in that time, what

other proposals will be made. I

think that it's very important

to support people at the time

when they have young babies.

It's a difficult time

financially. We want to keep

people attached to the work

force if we can by giving them

leave and the ability to return

to their jobs. I think that

country that have good

provisions - in the area of

maternity leave but also child

care, early childhood host,

have better participation rates

for women. We need good

participation rates for women.

Our economy depends on it. So

yes, I think that we need a

system of better support for people with very young

children, but I don't want to

pick a model today. We obviously do support a

government-funded paid

maternity leave being

introduced and have done so for

some time. I think, though,

even though that may seem a

minimum scheme, when you

complement it with the national

employment standard issues

around unpaid leave, etc., and

the increases in that it's all

part of that, and also I think

the whole issue of child care.

It doesn't matter how long your

maternity leave is. If you

can't get your children looked

after at a quality level when

you want to go back to work and

the OWA did some work on this

and almost half of women said

they would work more if they

could get better access to

child care. Frankly when you're

a mother with babies, dropping

them off somewhere that's not

comfortable with, spending all

your money, all the money you

earn on child care, which I did

for a number of years, it's tough. You really have to be

committed to working and I used

to think, why am I doing this?

It's really hard yakka. So I

think we need to get in place a

proper paid maternity leave

provision and I think that's a

thin edge of the wedge, the ILO

standard of 14 weeks on the

minimum rate of pay seems to be

a reasonable place to start of

the we need to complement that

with continued improvements in access and quality to child

care, for all women. And I

think then we start to build

up, together with the unpaid

leave arrangements under the

national employment standards,

the right to request part-time work is also important, which

will be part of the standards.

You have to be conscious that a

lot of businesses support this

in principle and in practice.

But it's not straightforward

for a lot of small companies to

have to manage this sort of

thing. And we can be all very

ideal listic, everyone should

be able to request part-time

work but it is rather difficult

for small places to do this.

The unreasonable hours case run

by the ACTU and the family

provisions case run by the ACTU

a couple of years ago was very

instructive when you read the submissions to that we put in

21 affidavits from companies

and they were all trying hard,

but it's not easy so we have to

be very balanced about T but

there is no silver bullet T has

to be a systems approach. Can I

also what Alana said, we need

more women in line positions

where the money and the power

lies. Women are getting into

too many support roles like

legal counsel, HR. That won't

achieve the breakthroughs that

are required. As for the women

not asking for as much as the

bloke, in the end, she will

leave that work, because

someone will bid her away. But

women have to stick up for

themselves a bit better. I

think that woman needed to

equip herself better when she

equip herself better when she went into that negotiation.

Hopefully it won't happen to

her twice! Susannah Dunkley

from AAP. A lot of talk ahead

the budget is how the

government will focus on ways

of helping mothers re-enter the

work force and other family

friendly measures. I would like

to know what the government

will do for women more broadly,

and improving the status of

women, and also, is there scope to have

to have a national inquiry into

the gender pay pay gap? Is it

time? Um ... we - I'm not

going to speculate on anything

that may or may not be in the

budget. The treasurer has said

pretty clearly that a target

will be improving improving

work force participation but

beyond that I will not

speculate on the budget. Our

key areas in the status of

women portfolio, which I think

your question is going to more

broadly, is this area not just

of the pay gap, but generally

of financial security and

independence for women, and pay

equity is one part of that.

Retirement incomes is another part of

part of that. All of the things

that contribute to women being

able to make choices about, you

know, whether they work, how

much they work. Have a decent

quality of life in retirement,

even if they happen to have got

divorced along the way. The

other main area of focus for us

is the area of violence against women. We'll

women. We'll shortly be

announcing the membership of

our national council on

violence against women that

will develop a plan of action to reduce violence against

women in Australia. We still

have unacceptably high rates of

domestic violence and sexual

assault in this country. Some

people think that these issues

have been solved in Australia.

They certainly haven't. So they're the two main areas

they're the two main areas of

focus for us. Next questioner

is Virginia Haussegger from the

ABC. Thanks, Misha. I've many,

many questions, but I will

stick to one. Heather, you're

one of the few women that

people like me, journalists,

often quote and hold up as a

shining light of one of the

very few women that have broken

through, and unfortunately, it

is just a handful, not

thousands of you. Which is

thousands of you. Which is very

disappointing. But if we put

aside the career disruptions

and absence from work because

of caring for families and

child rearing, and if we put

aside choices of professions,

but if we look at that top

level of earners after the EOWA

report came out, that shocked

most of us to learn that

most of us to learn that right

at that very top level, job for

job, CEO for CEO, women earnt

much less, considerably much

less, than their male

counterparts. If we look at

that and then look at bottom

level with graduates and again

Anna McPhee is often quoted the

grad stats that show there is a

$3,000 disparity between men

and women, from day 1 of

graduating, from day 1, if we

take the bottom and the top, what is it

what is it that you think women

are doing if we put all those

other variables aside, what is

it that they are doing to work

against themselves? Are we our

own worst enemy 'cause we don't

ask for more, we don't demand

more? Do you see women at the top perhaps working really

hard, assuming that they will

be well rewarded and not asking

when they should in fact be demanding? I think there's a

lot in that. I think women do

believe that if they work hard,

believe that if they work hard,

do a good job, the rewards will

come, and there's a lot of

evidence to suggest a male in a

similar job will look at what

his boss is doing and say "I

can do that" and urnl gets

promoted too early. A woman

will say "I will work hard" and

they end up being promoted a

lot later. Women aren't their

best advocates. We need to

start to educate our girls much

more around that. I think with

the CEO issue, it's also

boards' responsibility often to

appoint these CEOs A lots of

boards, we still haven't had an

awful lot of breakthrough in

terms. Number of women who are

chairing public companies, the

number of women on boards is

still one0 two on average, so

boards appoint these people and

set the salaries in many cases

and I think that's an issue

that needs to have some focus

on it. At the graduate intake

level, I think it's an affront that girls are being offered

these lower salaries.

Certainly, I don't know why it

should happen. If it's a

different job or a different

industry, you can net these

sorts of issues out, but I

think that's a strange

statistic that smacks of some

discrimination. But I think

women are getting more

confident. Education will help

T won't guarantee T but I think

women do need to be much more

active in their rights. If you

are a CFO and you're finding

that you're not competitive,

you really have to put your

hand up and ask, and in our

organisation, women are just as

assertive about their rights as

men and it's really good. You

know, it takes a long time,

Virginia, to break down that natural hesitation, that it

will happen for me, I have

never had to ask for anything,

it will happen because I work

hard and do well. Well, you

know, a lot of people get

promoted abouf who aren't as

good but much better at asking.

But it's tough to do it. It

doesn't come naturally to many

of us. I just wanted to make

aned a gisal comment. I think

that saying what are the people

who are getting the salaries

doing wrong really - I know

you're asking a provocative

question, but I think it has the question the wrong way

around. The people who are

determining those salaries are

not being fair as managers but

they're also not being smart as

managers, because we know that

the main reason people change

jobs is they're looking for

more pay. So the people that

you value, that you've trained

up, that you've invested in,

will go somewhere else looking

for higher pay, because as a manager you haven't been smart

enough to offer them what

they're worth. It's such a

waste of time and energy on

everyone's part if you make the

person responsible for the pay

gap the person who is suffering

the pay gap, instead of saying,

what are we doing as managers

that replicates, that continues

this system? Can I just quickly

draw Mark back in on that

point? If women aren't being

their own best advocates, is

there a case for structural changes in the workplace and in

bargaining to try to overcome

that cultural difference? I

don't really have a view on

that. I don't know how you

implement that sort of thing in

a bargaining environment. How

you manage it. And the big

difference is occurring in the individual negotiations.

They're occurring on one-on-one. So

one-on-one. So how do you

manage that? How do you, as a

government, sort of control

that? I don't really have any

insights. But as an employer,

don't you think "I am losing

people, it's taking me ages to

retrain." Every new person I

employ, it costs me a year's

worth of their salary to

replace them at those senior

levels. If I'm a bit smarter

about this, I will be able to

keep my good people"? A lot of

employers think like that and

they do the sums and they've worked that through which is

why a number of them offer paid

maternity leave and many other

arrangements on bargains, I

agree with Mark a lot of the

issues around individual

contract negotiations, but in

collective bargaining for many

years the women's issues didn't

come to the drop. The

trades-based unions are

male-dominated unions. They go

in with a set of claims.

There'd be a lot of family

friendly issues, maybe fifth or

sixth, by the time the first

round of discussions were over

they'd gone through to the

keeper. So, you know, again, the system hasn't always served

women well and you know that,

Tania. Or they'd offer to

bargain them away. Exactly! And

I think that's an issue that

with the new collective

bargaining arrangements and the - virtually ever enterprise

- virtually ever enterprise

agreement we're doing has

family-friendly work issues now

in it. But a lot of the old

facilitative clauses had to be

voted on by all the people in

the bargaining unit. So if a

woman wanted to start and

finish early or something, all

the blokes had to vote on

whether she was allowed to do

it. Absolute rubbish and that's

in one of the major awards in Australia

Australia which we have an

interest in. There's a long way

to go on both sides. Divide on

this issue. Our next question

is from Stephen scots from the

Financial Review. I have a question for the minister and anyone else who would like to

jump N I was wondering if you

could give us a rough guideline

about how much a woman has to

earn before she's no longer

part of a working

family? (LAUGHTER)

family? (LAUGHTER) And

related to that, is or can

there be - should the

government be doing something

to help women at the very high

echelons of the work force,

those CEOs and CFOs who earn

much less than their male

counterparts? Should the

government, for example, be

regulating or encouraging audits like that conducted by

the NAB? I think I'm gonna let

the first part of the question

pass me by, because I don't

quite understand it. The

question about what governments

can do at the very senior

levels that were picked up in

that equal opportunity for

women in the workplace agency

report into the ASX top 200 top

earners, I think that the main message from that

message from that was that

companies are going to lose terrific talented people if

they don't get their acts

together. Having that

information allows people who

are going into what are

essentially one-on-one

negotiations to push their case

better, I think. It is

difficult for governments to intervene

intervene at that top level. I don't think it's where our

priority should lie. I think

our priority should lie in

ensuring that people who are on

collective agreements, who are

ordinary wage earners, are part

of a system that's fair. I

think there is - the government

shouldn't really be focused on

that group as such compared to other groups

other groups that are in a much

more needy position. But I

think they have to create a culture through officers like

the OWA and the office of women

that a lot of this information

is around. Also, women, the

chief executive women's network

is a network I'm a part of.

They do a lot of very good

work. They have a tool kit they make available to companies to

do a lot of this sort of area. Women need to

Women need to be actively part

of these networks and they'll

soon find out what the story

and how they're doing against

their peers. Often that's part

of the issue. Men are very good

at working. Women aren't so

good. But that network is

proving to be a very important

one, I think, for women CEOs

and the CFO ones are growing as

well. So I think over time,

that issue will

that issue will hopefully -

they'll converge, but women

need to get armed with the

information, I think, and the

confidence. I just have a quick

comment to follow up. I think

it actually doesn't matter what

level you are in the

organisation, there are still

some things that I think

through government policy can

help in terms of the gender pay

equity. If you look at child

care or maternity leave, it

actually doesn't matter what

level you are in the

organisation, those things are

actually critical to your

earning potential. So I agree

with what's been said around

the focus is not necessarily

going to be on those most

senior women but there are

policies that I think impact

women at all lefts and not just

women, but parents parents in

the work force. So that's the

only other thing I would say.

One of our traditions is to

have visiting groups of school

have visiting groups of school

students attend and act as

interrogate ors themselves.

We're luck y to have a school

here today. My name is Elsie

Coffee. I'm 16 years old. My

question to the panel is: can

you suggest a date when genuine

equality will be achieved in the Australian work force? (LAUGHTER)

And if not,

why? (LAUGHTER) I think it will

be when you're Prime Minister,

my friend! When no child lives

in poverty! (LAUGHTER) Well,

it's a great aspiration to

have, and we should interest it

as an aspiration, and we should

work towards it, but Nirvana's

very rarely reached. We might

become more equal than men. Now

that would be an ambition! (Laughs) I have a different

take on it. I mean, it is an

interesting question, but you

use the word equality, and I

think take - I take you it mean

equal wage Sos we'll have zero

gap. Unless we have a massive

change in society, I'm not sure

women will want that. The

reason - the only way we can

achieve this is if we have lots

of role reversals, lots of men

behaving like women and lots of

women behaving like men today.

So the minister talked about -

the minister talked about the

role in the home. I think

ultimately that's where the

differences start and emanate.

It comes from in the home. At

the moment, what the

traditional structure is, the

man goes out to work, the woman

stays home and does all the

housework. With that sort of

model, it's always going to be

a case of, it's efficient for families to structure their

arrangements that way, they'll

make much more money doing it

that way. If we - what's got to

happen is you have to have more

families where the the man is

the prime carer, opts out and

the woman takes on a mail role

but I don't think women in

Australia want that I don't

think that women in where in the world want that the other

thing we have to take into

account is that since we had

equal pay, the Jen dear pay gap

has hardly changed. It's been

static between on an hourly pay

basis, between basically 85 and

889% the whole time. It doesn't

matter whether we had the accord, it doesn't matter

whether we had enterprise

bargaining, or WorkChoices,

albeit so brief. It's very,

very difficult to move that. So

anyone who makes a claim that

they're going to achieve a

significant reduction in that

gap into the 95%, let's say,

that's a big call. There's no

economy in the world that's got

there at least in the western

economies. But there's another

way of looking at it that's not

role reversal but role sharing.

That actually gives women

access to - and not just gives

them access, but sustains them

in the higher-paid jobs when

they've also got caring

responsibilities. But also,

gets men to share some of those

caring responsibilities for

their own families, so that

both the paid work in the

family and the caring work in

the family is more evenly

distributed. I'm not saying

that that should be imposed

upon people, but I think that a

lot of families would like an

arrangement like that if our social institutions supported

such an arrangement. Shared

care is a fine aspiration. The

problem is ... It only happens

after divorce in Australia at

the moment, I think.

(LAUGHTER) Those households

that go the share cared route

end up being penalised in terms

of earnings. That's the

problem. So if you're concerned

about earnings ... That's not

the natural order of things. It

doesn't have to be like that.

We weren't born like that. It's

not immutable. It's not

unchangeable. Again, I would

like to come back to the point

the minister made and the crowd again got dismissive, which is

this issue of high hours. All

high achievers in all walks of

life, be it sport, be it

entertainment, be it business,

be it

be it politics, work long hours

or put in long hours into their

activity. Be it volunteers. I

will look forward to the day

the Prime Minister is down to a

100 hour work week let alone a

40 hur work week. I will see

how long he lasts! There are

some roles you obviously can't

split. If you're a doctor on call in the Emergency

Department of a major hospital,

you're not going to have family-friendly working conditions. I think everyone

accepts that. But there are

some roles that can be

structureed in a different way,

including some very senior

roles, and they're not now,

because we don't think

creatively about how that work

can be structured. I think

it's changing, though. I mean,

I think, you know, younger

women are getting married, they

expect their husbands to take a

fair share of the load, and you

see guys with their babies

these days, they're very

different than they were 30

years ago. So there is a

... They know which end is up!

I agree with Mark. They do! And

they know how to change a

nappy, all the good stuff! But

the younger generation have a

different attitude than many of

us had to that. And tried to do

everything. This idea of a

superwoman, I totally dismiss

it. I think it's a ridiculous

thing. Women just manage a lot

of things so there's no such thing as women being

superpeople. They're just

normal people struggling with a

a lot of loads. That kind of

thing I thought was really bad

for women. It was a really

negative kind of label to put

on us who had managed to have

children and work. It made us

out to be something special.

We're not. We're just people

who struggle along. But I think

these days a lot of the younger

guys are much more involved in

their families and my daughter,

she wouldn't stand for half the

nonsense I did. (LAUGHTER) It's

good! Before she became Sex

Discrimination Commissioner Liz

Broderick worked at a major

Sydney law firm and pioneered

some revolutionary new flexible

work practices there. Do you

have a question for a

mantle? I'm sitting there with

so many things I need to say I

will keep it very short. I want

to say I've been on a nationwide listening tour,

really from the abattoirs in

South Australia to the

long-grass camps in Darwin. And

this issue of pay equity is a

strong resonating theme. I have

had women, particularly older

women, who have had compounded

years of pay equity, almost

sobbing in front of me, telling

me their story of their retirement savings or

retirement savings or lack of

retirement savings, or really

disparity in retirement savings

between women and men. And I

think, look, it's terrific that

it's on the government's

agenda. The fact is, all the

issues that we've talked about

today, flexible work, women's

leadership, women progressing

in their careers, pay equity,

all those things, they will not

happen just over time. They

will not fix themselves over

will not fix themselves over

time. They need to be actively

managed. And I think it's the

complexity of the problems that

often mean that we haven't been

in the past able to find

solutions, but I think we need

to start biting off chunk-sized

pieces and progressively

improving things. If I could

just looked at flexible work u

because that's one area I've

been advocating for many years,

as a credible al tern

as a credible al tern to

full-time work, not as a

secondary path, but job

redesign at the heart of that

so putting in place a working environment where jobs come in

all shapes and sizes, and

senior jobs come in all shapes

and sizes. Because really,

where are the CEOs? There are

the people in public life?

Those people at the most senior

levels in our community who are

modelling different and

innovative working

innovative working practices?

Because I think once we start

to do that, we will start to

secret kal mass of women, and

men with caring

responsibilities, at the most

senior levels of our - each

area of activity in our country

and we won't be doing it the

same way as we're doing it now. Hopefully we won't be doing

100-hour weeks. We will be

doing it totally differently.

But what we need to do is

But what we need to do is

really to accept the challenge,

step up, actively manage, and

move forward. To that extent,

this is my question for the

panel: sorry! (LAUGHTER) Which

countries in the world are

doing this well? Do we know of

any country that is doing it

well and if so, what are the

conditions that exist in that

count