Gender pay gap improves in mining

Australia’s mining industry has closed the pay discrepancy gap between genders, according to a federal government report.

The government-backed Workplace Gender Equality Agency’s latest gender equality scorecard tracks pay discrepancies across various sectors of the Australian workforce.

Under the rules of an act introduced by the government in 2012, non-public sector employees with 100 or more employees must submit an annual report tracking six gender equality indicators.

Mining lowered its gap in total remuneration to 14 per cent for 2017–18, a slight improvement from the 14.7 per cent recorded in 2016–17.

This meant that of the 19 surveyed industries, mining had the seventh lowest overall gender pay gap.

Mining also posted a base pay gap of 10.6 per cent, faring well against the closest comparable industry in the report, construction, which showed the highest base pay gap of the surveyed industries at 24.3 per cent and second highest total remuneration gap of 29.4 per cent (an increase on the previous year).

Despite these improvements, the mining industry ranked low in terms of overall female representation.

Of the surveyed industries, mining and construction have the lowest overall composition of female employees, at 16.7 per cent and 17 per cent respectively.

However, the mining industry was one of only two industries (along with administrative and support services) where women were not under-represented in management roles relative to the number of women in the industry overall.

For example, while female workers were found to make up just 16.7 per cent of the mining industry overall, 17.2 per cent of mining management is female. This representation was up 0.9 per cent from 2016–17 figures.

For point of comparison, the construction industry only had 12.1 per cent female management.

The report also found that the mining industry was among the industries most likely to take action after being notified of a pay gap, with 75.9 per cent of companies having taken action to improve.

Mining also showed fairly strong results for gender equality strategy, with 64.3 per cent of mining companies having these policies in place compared to 56.4 per cent across all industries.

Fortescue Metals Group chief Andrew Forrest last month reiterated the importance of female representation in a recorded video acceptance speech at the Prospect Awards in Sydney. Five of Fortescue’s nine board members are female, including chief executive officer Elizabeth Gaines.

“If you don’t have those different talents coming on to your board, you are going to go monologue – you are going to think in a monologue,” Forrest said. “That would be dangerous.”