An Australian woman would have to work an extra 56 days on average to earn the same yearly salary as a man, and companies are being urged to get on the front foot in addressing this ongoing gender pay gap.

Tomorrow will be the 56th day of the new financial year, and has been dubbed Equal Pay Day 2023 by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA).

WGEA, which sits within the Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet, is calling on Australian companies of all sizes and in all industries to proactively address the gender pay gap.

It comes as new mandatory reporting on gender pay gaps within individual companies is set to come into force next year, with hopes this will speed up Australia’s slow journey towards gender pay equality.

New Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data this month revealed that the gender pay gap between men and women in Australia is 13 percent, a 0.3 percent decrease from last year. This means that women are earning on average $13,120 less in terms of annual base salary than men every year, and for every $1 earned by a man, a woman makes 87 cents.

WGEA CEO Mary Woolridge said that while this slight decrease in the gender pay gap is welcomed, much more needs to be done to reach equality.

“This momentum is a springboard for renewed action for employers to prioritise gender equality and ensure that we continue to work towards closing the gender pay gap,” Woolridge said.

“This year we are calling on employers to recognise ‘what’s missing matters’ in a whole range of situations, and particularly the missing pay for women matters, and we are asking employers to do something about it.”

The average weekly pay for men working full-time in Australia is $1907.10, while for women this figure is $1653.60, equating to a $253 difference per week.

The gender pay gap does not compare the amount people are paid for the same role, but rather shows the difference between the average pay of men and women across organisations and industries.

Western Australia has the most significant gender pay gap in Australia at 22.1 per cent, while Tasmania has the lowest at 6 per cent. Victoria has a gender pay gap of 13.5 per cent and New South Wales’ is currently at 11 per cent.

In terms of industries, the gender pay gap in professional, scientific and technical services is 22.7 per cent, an increase from last year, while the gap in information media and telecommunications is 15.9 per cent, a 1 per cent decrease from 2022.

To mark Equal Pay Day, Australian organisations are being urged to take proactive action to address their own gender pay gaps.

WGEA says this should include conducting an audit to determine the pay gap, reporting these findings to employees, setting goals to reduce this, increasing the number of women in leadership roles and encouraging men to adopt flexible working practices and to take their leave entitlements.

“Employers have a key role to play in addressing the entrenched gender norms and stereotypes that are a barrier to women’s progression or full participation in the workplace,” Woolridge said.

“With dedicated, intentional action to address the gender pay gap in their organisation, Australian employers will continue to accelerate progress to close the national gender pay gap.”

The federal government is also taking action aimed at addressing this issue, and passed legislation in March which will make employer gender pay gap data publicly available on the WGEA website.

Companies with 100 or more employees will have to provide details of the gender pay gap in their workplace to the WGEA, and this will then be made public.

This measure will cover about 4 million workplaces, or about 40 percent of the total Australian workforce.

The public reporting will begin at the start of next year, while from April 2024 organisations will also have to provide additional information on employees, such as age and workplace location, and reporting on sexual harassment, harassment on the ground of sex and discrimination.

From late next year or early 2025, Commonwealth public sector organisations with 100 or more employees will also have to publicly release this information.