Enough is enough.

The WGEA released its 4th Edition Report on Gender Pay Equality last month. The picture it paints is grim, with the pay gap reaching nearly $1b per week – largely unchanged from the last report 4 years ago.

In my career to date, I have worked with amazing people – of all genders (and gender is >2). It’s unfathomable that we are still talking about fair pay for fair work in 2022. It’s unfathomable to me that my nephews will be paid more than my nieces for the same job.

Change is too slow

A report is all well and good – after all, the right data supports better decision-making. But, in any report, the next step needs to include concrete recommendations. For someone trying to take practical steps, theories and musings are interesting but not enough.

So far, there’s been years of great work elevating the conversation and grappling to make progress. But change has been slow, and in many cases, not at all.

Too often we hear the data from women, but a big part of the change-makers out there are just like me: a partnered white man who’s about the same age as the median professional. And (hear me out!), that gives me a helpful perspective that might get more people like me to be part of the solution rather than advertently or inadvertently extending the problem.

So, let’s go beyond the report and get into some of the practical drivers of these outcomes, and how they manifest in organisations – especially with us blokes. Let’s talk about how to make change faster, in the right direction. Surely no one thinks 4 years without any improvement is ‘heading in the right direction’.

But first, four real examples you should be aware of today.

These are all overheard – through my career, or shared anonymously.

Example 1 – Switching roles or career conversations

“You’ve got great experiences and studies.

What do you want to do next?

That sounds good

How much are you paid?

That’s already very good pay for a young woman.”

Change This: This really happened. From professionals in Human Resources. There’s a gender lens, and an age lens too. If you find yourself in this moment, if you were tempted to say this, just listen. Please.  Don’t tell someone they don’t deserve where they are at. Full stop.

Example 2 – The pay negotiation by gender

Man: I’d like to earn $X

Boss: OK

Rationale: He deserved that, he works hard and has a family to look after.

Woman: I’ve looked at the market data, my performance, loyalty,

I think $X is fair for this role (or pay review round), but I know it can be tough. So, I am asking for $Y.

Boss: Hmm. You don’t want to be perceived as difficult. But you’ve done a great job. I can give you $Y-5%.

Rationale: Wow, she was tough / a {insert negative words here}

Change This: Make the playing field even and scrutinise potential bias in the negotiation process. Hear the person, and the facts, with open ears.

Example 3 – The positioning of gender representation

“Here is the data on female representation in senior executive roles in this company. As you can see, your division is doing terribly here on the left (about 25% representation) and our function is doing great! (about 70% female representation).”

Change This: Functions (or teams or organisations) aren’t ‘good’ or ‘bad’ based on representation alone – lots of different factors go into it. Help to solve representation, and the impact and results it can bring, collaboratively. Could you consider swapping great female leaders into new divisions, a talent exchange of sorts?

Example 4 – Who brings gender data to the table

Hearing people talk angrily, or even just passionately, about data for the group they are in makes it seem self-serving. Pay data on gender pay should be brought as impartially as possible. That goes for other scenarios at work too.

Change This: Bringing this data from women, or always from women, asking them to be impartial and without emotion about this gross unfairness, creates potentially limiting receptivity to the message. At the very least, this data should come from different voices over time to elevate the message.

The landing of all of this – we need to take a different perspective.

Taking a different perspective

To be honest, blokes in the workplace can perform at an average level, talk well, drink a beer and be a good bloke – and succeed. A woman can hit a century in every innings, with a broken arm – at work, at home, day in and day out. And still get materially less.

So, what the hell do we do about this?

For starters, we need men to get involved in the solution and actively make changes in day-to-day work. That means quelling assumptions – don’t think everyone around you is in the same boat. I often hear conversations about men in very senior roles who have a partner at home looking after the household. This should not be assumed ‘normal’.

We rationalise decisions to meet our world view and bias – we should start with a positive gender skew if we want to course correct. At present, gender pay is the most classic example of trying to fix the same problem with the same solutions and being surprised nothing moves. If we wanted to really fix it, we’d follow the lead of some organisations and skew pay rises unevenly to resolve the gap – then put tight controls to try and hold it at parity.

If that seems hard, or you can’t grapple with the ‘unfairness of it’, you might try knowing when not to cede the spotlight onto someone, or when to use your voice to sponsor or mentor women colleagues if you’re in a leadership position. These are conscious choices and concrete actions.

And, while we’re at it, as a childless married bloke, let’s call it out.

We need to fix the radical disincentive for people with kids to earn more by getting reducing relief from the system. That helps no one. It is creating a ‘natural barrier’ for women who want and need to work. And having women that want to do paid work has tremendous upside for every single part of our society.

To land that – we should consider childcare alternatives on a much more n=1 basis, and more work for women should not be in traditional, gendered roles (caring, health), or forced to be unpaid.

Where to from here?

  • We need real talks on this stuff – respectful and workplace-appropriate, yes, but candid.
  • We must respectfully listen to and challenge each other’s assumptions.
  • We must rethink negotiations – systemically, individually. His is not ‘fair’ and hers is not ‘difficult’.
  • We need to challenge male voices to be informed by real experiences of women at work.
  • We need to start revaluing ‘care’ jobs, whether inside or outside the workplace.


  • As leaders, at all levels, we should always make sure that there is zero gender pay gap in our own team. It starts with each of us!

These are the sorts of concrete, conscious actions that can help bring men into the broader solution – and ensure that we’re going beyond the gloomy picture of the data and toward genuine change.

Fellas, if you think a targeted approach to remedy this is unfair, you clearly have been on the unfair side of the gap for too long.