Pay Equity: Resources & Reading

9 July 2019

The issue of pay equity has been on the agenda for Australian governments and business for decades, but pay disparities remain a persistent problem in many workplaces.

The latest statistics (Parlour Census Report 2001–2016) indicate that within architecture in Australia, the gender pay gap for full-time workers begins at a surprising 5% disparity for graduates, but steadily rises over time, topping out at 15.8% for 55–59 year olds.

Here we list the best resources and reading material to help you consider the issues and achieve equitable pay in your practice.

Fair Work Ombudsman

Fair Work’s Best Practice Guide on Gender Pay Equity is a good place to start. While there is a focus on the pay disparity between men and women, it’s clear that eliminating pay inequity and discrimination helps to create fairer, respectful working environments for all. Fair Work lists the many reasons why pay equity makes good business sense:

  • creating a motivated, happy and productive workforce
  • becoming an employer of choice
  • attracting and retaining the best and brightest staff
  • improving staff retention and thereby reducing turnover costs
  • fulfilling a business’ legal obligations
  • inspiring consumer confidence
  • preventing negative public relations issues arising from legal proceedings or allegations of gender pay inequity
  • avoiding a costly discrimination complaint
  • attracting government contracting opportunities
  • achieving fairness and respect in the workplace

Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA)

Pay equity is part of the WGEA mandatory reporting system for businesses with 100 or more employees. The organisation also promotes pay equity through its annual ‘Employer of Choice for Gender Equality’ citations, a leading practice recognition program that aims to encourage, recognise and promote active commitment to achieving gender equality in Australian workplaces.

The WGEA also produces a range of excellent resources, including an extensive Guide to Gender Pay Equity, which aims to help businesses diagnose the status of pay equity in their organisation, set goals and take practical steps to implement change.

For smaller operations, there’s also a brief fact sheet on Pay Equity for Small Business, which offers a three-step guide to correcting any pay disparities in your practice.


The first of Parlour’s Guides to Equitable Practice focuses on Pay Equity. It offers simple suggestions to assist practices in evaluating, establishing and maintaining pay equity, and to help employees seeking to achieve gender pay equity. It also makes suggestions as to how the profession as a whole can assist in addressing the issue.

For a first-hand account of a practitioner using the Parlour guides to assess and challenge their own practice’s record on equity, see A look behind the drapes – auditing Redshift’s equity practice.

Pay Transparency – further reading

Pay transparency is a strategy often cited as one of the means to tackle pay inequity. It’s a popular topic in business circles, with some HR professionals touting the benefits to company culture and building trust between employer and employee. Others suggest that creating clear connections from skills and performance to pay scales can prove a motivating factor for many employees.

Though companies with pay transparency have been celebrated in the press in recent months (as below), it’s not always an easy policy to implement and can backfire if not managed well.

“Implementing Pay Transparency” 

Jeff Link provides an overview of how architectural practices can use salary transparency as a tool to boost equity, achieve pay parity, and build trust among employees. Published in Architect, the article includes advice from architects and an organisational management researcher on how to establish and implement pay transparency systems within architectural practices.

“Some firms may choose to disclose pay range by title and experience level, the percentage of employees at different levels, and how bonuses are calculated. This approach, he explains, may be well suited to a studio where collaboration is valued, as it minimizes salary envy and, in turn, increases willingness among employees to assist their colleagues. Other firms might opt to outright disclose earnings by name. The key … is to implement a system that clarifies how people are getting paid.” — Jeff Linke, Architect magazine, 28 June 2019

“Pay Transparency to Transform the Workplace”

Writing in the Australian Financial Review, David Marin-Guzman identifies pay transparency as a key aspect of the future of work. (This article is behind the AFR paywall.)

“Despite employers fearing pay transparency will cause disputes, a majority of talent professionals said the practice streamlined negotiations, ensured fair pay and allowed recruitment interviews to focus on other things.” – David Marin-Guzman, Australian Financial Review, 11 April 2019

“Pay Transparency is the Solution to the Pay Gap: Here’s One Company’s Success Story”

Kim Elsesser’s article on Forbes outlines one company’s experiences of successfully implementing pay transparencies and the benefits that followed in terms of staff development, career progression and motivation.

“Pay transparency doesn’t just help with diversity, it helps all employees in the organization. Openness and honesty about pay and how pay is determined can help employees to set and achieve their goals. Negus-Fancey describes, ‘People have a lot more clarity about how they can move up in the organization, horizontally or vertically, and that is going to help them think more intelligently about their career, and gives them power they haven’t had before. As a result of pay transparency, we’ve all been spending much more time thinking about career development and how we can help people understand the different skills they need to acquire to operate on a different level in the organization.’ By offering clear, objective data on how to advance in their organization, employees are motivated to succeed.” — Kim Elsesser, Forbes, 5 September 2018

“The Pros and Cons of Salary Transparency”

Bennett Conlin discusses the advantages of pay transparency, but also canvasses the problems that can arise when first implementing transparency. The article on Business News Daily concludes that introducing pay transparency must be carefully planned and managed, with clear and honest communication and sensible payroll structures.

“Being transparent about salary opens your business up to the possibility of frustrated employees. There’s no perfect system that’ll appease everyone, which makes adequately explaining pay discrepancies a priority. Pay transparency requires a plan. If you share salary information, be extremely clear in how you came to those salary determinations.” — Bennett Conlin, Business News Daily, 30 September 2018



Also see Cassandra Keller’s excellent article How to Achieve Pay Equity, published this month on the ACA website.