Salary Benchmark Snapshot | Pay Equity

Here is a snap shot of CXC’s latest Contingent Workforce Salary Benchmark Report, taking a look at some trends in contractor pay rates aligned with gender. 

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Pay equity

When we look at the recent history of the gender wage gap in Australia, the last 10 years have seen significant and sustainable strides towards pay equity.

Legally, it’s a requirement for a woman to earn the same amount as a man when they’re performing the same role at a company. By gender wage gap, we’re referring to the overall value that is placed on women’s work. For instance, the continued overrepresentation of women in roles that society, for whatever reason, pays less.

Progress always seems to be two steps forward, one step back. And regarding the effects of COVID-19 on women’s pay in the workforce, we may be in the midst of a backwards step, as we explore in this section.

In our last salary benchmarking report, we looked closely at the gender pay gap across our contingent workforce. We found that:

The gender gap was at its highest in 2020

In 2021, the second year of a global pandemic, we wanted to further explore the differences in pay between male and female contractors, how this was affected by tenure, age and location, and whether this agreed with what we’re seeing in the wider market. Specifically, we wanted to answer:

  • Had the pay gap widened or contracted over the last year?
  • Are female contractors getting higher pay increases year on year?
  • Do these trends align with the pay differences in project management roles?

Before we answer these questions, let’s have a look at some high-level statistics of our workforce composition:

Contractor pay rates by gender

Contractor age and gender

From the outset, you can see that:

  • Across our contractor base, we have slightly more male contractors than female.
  • There is a higher proportion of male contractors that work longer than a year than female contractors.
  • Female contractors are more likely to be 25 to 35 years old, while male contractors 35 to 45 years old.

Keep in mind, during the pandemic, CXC partnered with a client to onboard, manage and pay a large number of contact tracers, registered nurses and wellbeing officers. These roles are traditionally female-dominated and lower paying. This tranche of contractors may explain the significant pay gap disparity compared to the wider contractor workforce. We look closer at the differences in gender composition by job titles, and their pay rates, later in the report.

In Figure 5, we look at the differences of pay regardless of job, age, tenure or location over the last three years.

Gender pay gap

As shown in Figure 5, while male contractor rates have remained relatively stable over the last three years, female rates have plunged. Male contractors are now paid $288 more than their female counterparts.

In our last salary benchmarking report, we identified that male contractors were paid 22.21% more in 2021, which was the closest the gap has been in the last three years. That statistic was identified midway through 2021; we now see that in the last six months of that year, the gap rapidly widened.

Halfway through 2022, the pay gap is at an all-time high. Will it improve, or get worse, before the end of the year?

Compare this with the 13.8% pay gap between permanent male and female workers, as of 2021. This has risen by .4% since the year before.

The gap widens significantly when we look at the pay difference for part time workers, which is at 30.6%. With women representing casual and part-time jobs far more than men, this group was hit far harder by COVID shutdowns and employee cutbacks.

According to Alison Pennington, Senior Economist, Centre for Future Work: “Not only has the quantity of women’s paid work been reduced compared with men, but the quality of those jobs has been undermined during the post-COVID recovery. Women workers are “snapping back” to a world of paid work that engages them on inferior terms compared with men (lesser hours, security and pay).”

Other indicators of the detrimental effect on COVID-19 on the gender pay gap include:

  • Australia falling to 50th place in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index, from 14th place in 2006.
  • Women experiencing 3 out of 5 job losses during 2020.
  • Pay increases for men in the construction industry outpacing women by 0.9%.

Download our latest Contingent Workforce Salary Benchmark Report to find out more and drill down on the other dimensions that allow us to look closer at the gender pay gap including; industry, location, tenure and age.