Pay people the same amount for doing the same job. It’s a simple
principle. Seems commonsense. Certainly fair. It’s even the law. But
is it happening?
Well, believe it or not, there are still people out there who think
it shouldn’t be happening. Last year AbbVie talked about the gender
pay gap on social media, and some of the responses were frankly shocking.
‘Of course women get paid less, they do less work and are usually
less educated and qualified.’ Or how about this one ‘Women don’t mind
getting paid less, they are mothers. That’s their first priority.’ Or
the inevitable, ‘Get back in your kitchen..!’
But in their own way, the more moderate responses were even more
distressing. Many people believed that there was no such thing as a
gender pay gap in modern Australia. It’s not like it’s still 1914, the
argument goes. Back then a woman could be paid a third of what a man
would receive for doing the exact same job. No, it’s 2020, and the law
says that everyone must be paid the same wage for the same work.
And yet, the gender pay gap persists. It is insidious. Employers
don’t consciously set out to pay women less than men. But somehow,
they still do. Unconscious gender biases creep in, influencing
decisions about hiring, performance ratings, promotions and pay
decisions. It’s so unconscious that many companies don’t even realise
that they have a gender equity pay gap. Workplace Gender Equality
Agency data shows that only four in ten employers actually analyze
their payroll for pay gaps, and of those only 13.9 per cent report the
results to their board.
This is the reason why at AbbVie we analyse our pay data regularly
across all demographics. Unconscious bias can sneak in whenever there
are difference such as gender, race, religion and disability.
At AbbVie we have a strong focus on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.
In recent years, extensive research has been conducted about the
impact of diversity and inclusion ( by organisations such as PWC,
Deloitte, World Economic Forum, McKinsey & Co., LeanIn, HeForShe).
The benefits of inclusive organisations include: higher employee
engagement, better problem solving, more creativity and innovation,
better access to new markets, diverse groups of customers and
consumers, as well as to a wider talent pool, and ultimately, better
business performance. This focus was a big part of what drew me
personally to AbbVie. And I can already see that this is a big part of
So, when AbbVie looked at our pay gap, what did we find? Turns out,
we too have a gap. It is only a small one—7.5%—but we were surprised
when we ran the numbers and saw it. It was tempting to just dismiss it
as a minor anomaly, one due to natural causes or the way the data was
collected. After all, AbbVie takes pay equity seriously, and we have
fantastic gender balance, especially in senior positions, so we
couldn’t be doing too bad, right?
Wrong. That’s the same kind of insidious justifications that make
the pay gap so persistent.
So now we have a plan to address it and we actively measure our
progress, as even a small gap needs to be address as the crevice can
quickly widen if we don’t.
That’s why I put my hand up to sign the WGEA Pay Equity Pledge and I
am a proud Pay Equity Ambassador. So why not join me and the other pay
equity leaders and put up your hands as well?
The Pay Equity Pledge
“We recognise gender bias can creep into performance, talent
development and pay decisions to create like for like gender pay gaps.
That’s why we analyse and monitor our talent management data,
including pay, by gender and take action.
We also set the expectation among people managers that they address
gender bias in their decision making.
We do this because we know we can’t attract and retain the best
people and improve workplace productivity if there’s any unfairness or
perception of unfairness in our workplaces.
We encourage all business leaders to take the first step.
Equal pay is in your hands.”