Women lag on pay raises and bonuses during the pandemic

Yvonne Teo, Vice President of Asia Pacific Human Resources of ADP

The gender pay gap has widened during COVID-19, with Aussie women receiving fewer pay increases compared to their male counterparts. To address this setback in the progress made, HR experts say the answer is not as simple as increasing salaries or flexibility. 

Only 47% of women received a bonus for taking on new roles during COVID-19 compared to 73% of men, according to ADP’s study People at Work 2021: A Global Workforce View.

This alarming disparity exists despite the study finding that men and women were just as likely to take on a new role due to COVID-19-related impacts on their organisations.

The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows the average weekly earnings between men and women has increased to 14.2% in May 2021, from 13.4% in November 2020.

This is the biggest percentage gain since 2014, and in dollar terms, it’s the worst since 2016.

Call for a long-term strategy

While it has been identified that 54% of organisations have taken action to close gender pay gaps, a more robust long-term strategy is needed to bridge the divide.

Australian women are back to earning $261.50 less a week than men on average.

Yvonne Teo, Vice President of Asia Pacific HR of ADP, a leading global technology company in HR solutions, explains that bonuses is just one of many factors that have contributed to an increased gender pay gap since the onset of the pandemic.

“The gender pay gap is an issue that goes much deeper than salaries.”

“There are many factors to consider such as the social dynamics of society, what government support is available and the culture of a workplace.”

“As a HR leader, I’m often asked what businesses can do about an issue that is so interlinked to broader society. As the saying goes, what doesn’t get measured doesn’t get managed. Having real-time, accurate, accessible and transparent payroll data is critically important.”

“It means firms can create greater visibility establish a benchmark to monitor progress.”

However, Teo highlights that narrowing the differences in employees’ pay slips is just a small part of the solution as gender parity needs to form part of every decision a business makes.

“It doesn’t happen overnight. To effectively and sustainably eradicate a pay gap, there needs to be a long-term strategy with targets and frameworks in place that cover the employee life cycle, from talent acquisition and promotions to departure and internal education.”

“Diversity, equity and inclusion needs to be embedded in all operational business facets.”

Kylie Baullo, ADP’S Vice President Client Services for Asia Pacific, and global Board Member of ADPs Women in Leadership, reiterates Teo’s sentiment on looking deeper than salaries. 

“Driving gender diversity at every level of the firm generates the talent pipeline to narrow the gender pay gap.  As we emerge from COVID and navigate through the great resignation, there is a unique window to enable employers to proactively address this situation.”

About the research

People at Work 2021: A Global Workforce View explores employees’ attitudes towards the current world of work and what they expect and hope for from the workplace of the future. 

ADP Research Institute surveyed 32,471 workers in 17 countries around the world between 17 November and 11 December 2020. This included:

  • 15,307 in Europe (France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Swiss and UK) 
  • 3,811 in North America (USA and Canada) 
  • 5,726 in Latin America (Argentina, Brazil and Chile) 
  • 7,627 in Asia Pacific (APAC) (Australia, China, India and Singapore)