MYOB has released its latest SME Wage Report which has revealed the gender wage gap among employees of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) is sitting at 7.5% in favour of men here in Australia and that women faced disproportionate challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But as Helen Lea, Chief Employee Experience Officer at MYOB adds, there’s still cause for optimism because COVID also brought about “increased flexibility, wages and opportunities all impacting more women than men among the SMEs we surveyed.”
The report is called the SME Success Report: SME Wages and it looks at pay rises, the gender pay gap in small and medium sized businesses and the impact of COVID-19 on women in the sector. Helen said the gender pay gap in wages: “… is a widespread concern across all industries and sectors, so it’s not surprising to see a similar trend among small and medium sized businesses.”
She pointed out the research in the report “reveals the negative impact COVID-19 had on women” and she added this was specifically because they had “increased caring responsibilities and reduced ability to work at their usual capacity during the pandemic.”
“The findings indicate that many small business owners aren’t aware of a gender wage gap in their industry, so it’s a timely reminder to take remedial and preventative actions to identify and eliminate any disparities that may exist,” said Helen.
The MYOB report combines anonymised data as well as a survey of more than 1,000 SME owners and operators.
Here are some extra key points from the report:
- Increasing wages is a priority for 84% of small businesses, and more than half (51%) have increased wages in the last 12 months.
- The gender wage gap among small and medium sized businesses is 7.5% in favour of men, when comparing median hourly wages.
- Twenty-six per cent of SME survey respondents said during the pandemic, more women faced increased caring responsibilities than men. Fifteen per cent said more women were unable to work at their usual capacity – more than double those who reported the same of men (6.4%).
- Women were also twice as likely to face reduced job security, at 13% compared to 7%.
- The survey results showed flexible working practices, accelerated by the pandemic, benefited 11% of women, compared to 5% of men.
- Eleven per cent of respondents also reported the pandemic led to more increased wages for women, compared to 6% for men, and increased opportunities for 11% of women, compared to 6% for men.
MYOB surveyed 1000 SME owners and operators for the report
MYOB used anonymised data – representing more than a million SME employees – as well as a survey of 1000 SME owners and operators for the report.
Helen added: “The gender pay gap is a widely established concern across all sectors, with the WGEA calculating the gap, in terms of average earnings, to be 14.1% in favour of men.”
“On top of established and systemic challenges, the pandemic exacerbated many social and economic drivers that contribute to unequal outcomes for women. These were particularly apparent in the industries most impacted by COVID restrictions, such as hospitality and retail,” she said.
Increasing wages overall is also a priority for 84% of SMEs, and more than half (51%) have increased wages in the last 12 months. As Helen said: “Australia’s small and medium sized businesses are looking to return to a normal operating rhythm; however conditions remain difficult with labour shortages and cost of living putting significant pressure on businesses and employees alike.”
“Despite the challenges, these findings indicate the commitment of SMEs – the country’s largest employer – to deliver wage growth to the 7.6 million Australians they employ. By bringing awareness to the gender pay gap, and providing ways to action discrepancies, we hope to assist the sector to deliver more equitable outcomes for Australians,” she added.
About the report: MYOB engaged Geografia (geografia.com.au) to create the MYOB SME Indices by compiling key data points from MYOB’s ledger, invoices and payroll datasets. The MYOB SME Success Report: SME Wages tracks the SME median hourly wage, with segmentation by gender and industry. The MYOB snapshot survey, commissioned by MYOB in conjunction with McCrindle, was conducted between 27 June 2022 and 4 July 2022. Findings are based on a sample of 1,038 Australians who manage and/or are an owner of a small-medium enterprise (businesses with up to 199 employees).
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