Closing the mining gender pay gap through recruitment


Recruitment is a vital part of the equation when it comes to closing the gender pay gap in mining.

Mining may be the highest-paid industry for working women in Australia, but like industries across the board, there’s still a significant gender pay gap. Nationally, Australia’s full-time gender pay gap is 15.3 per cent, with women earning on average $251.20 per week less than men.

In mining the gap is slightly higher at 16.6 per cent, although it has fallen by over two per cent since last year, and it’s far short of the gap in the financial and insurance services industry, which is nearly 30 per cent.

Regionally, the gap in pay (across all industries) is lowest in South Australia at 9.8 per cent and highest in Western Australia, which tips the scales at 22.8 per cent. Gendered disparities in wage occur at every level of business and manifest themselves in different ways.

The good news for companies wanting to tackle the disparity is that there are many steps they can take to close their own wage gaps — from conducting a pay equity audit to analysing how promotions and salary raises are awarded.

However, one of the easiest first steps to take is in recruitment.

Wage inequality in hiring practices does exist

You don’t have to look far to find examples of inequality in starting salaries. The Government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) has found that while gender pay gaps in graduate programs are minimal, men are more likely to receive top graduate trainee salaries. The median gender pay gaps for full-time graduate trainees are 2.9 per cent on base salary, and 2.1 per cent on total remuneration. However, this widens progressively among the top salary earners.

The WGEA’s report found the highest-paid 10 per cent of women in graduate trainee positions receive at least $81,000 in base salary, whereas the highest-paid 10 per cent of males took home at least $88,000 — a pay gap of eight per cent. It’s also noted that men tend to be more aggressive in salary negotiations and therefore are able to secure themselves better rates of pay than women who have equal experience and are applying for the same role.

How can we close the wage gap in recruiting?

Male Champions of Change — a coalition of men of power and influence working to achieve change on gender equality issues in organisations and communities — has some suggestions. Its report, Closing the Pay Gap, specifically looks at recruitment issues and what actions companies can take to improve.

  • Equal work for equal pay sounds like a no-brainer, but companies should set and monitor commencement salaries for work of the same or comparable value.
  • Price the role, not the candidate. Unconscious bias can creep in here, with men sometimes seen as more capable and worth more than a female counterpart. If salary bands are set against data-driven markers, this shouldn’t be a problem.
  • During hiring and salary reviews, ensure managers have the information to make factual, data-driven decisions on remuneration, based on market value and internal rates of pay.
  • Asking candidates what their current salary is can lead to ‘anchoring bias’, and result in the person being offered less than the going rate for the job. Eliminate the question and you eliminate the bias.
  • Ensure you have a recruitment firm that understands your organisations’ commitment to pay equity and is similarly driven, especially in salary negotiation situations.

Closing the wage gap

As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Overall, the gender pay gap hasn’t changed much in the last 20 years. However, the good news is that the mining industry is making significant progress towards wage equality and with leaders and recruiters on board, will continue to achieve positive change.

Whatever someone’s gender, the team at Mining People International will always work to ensure the best possible candidate for the job is the person who gets the job — and is fairly paid. If you need staff, get in touch with Mining People.

Lindsay McPhee
Mining People International