Equal Pay Day Quotes

Equal Pay Day Quotes

Equal Pay Day was on August 25, 2023.

In 1969 Australian women earnt the right to equal pay for equal work. But something is still missing.

On average, women in Australian earn less than men. This is called the gender pay gap. Equal Pay Day marks the 56 additional days from the end of the financial year women must work to earn the same average pay.

Equal Pay Day

Equal Pay Day

Imagine a world where every person is valued for their contributions, regardless of their gender. A world where the principles of equality and fairness guide our actions, shaping a society that empowers everyone to thrive. This vision isn’t a distant dream – it’s an achievable reality, and it starts with us. As Equal Pay Day approaches on August 25, 2023, we have an opportunity to make a profound impact.

In 1969, Australian women celebrated a historic milestone as they secured the right to equal pay for equal work. But even today, a crucial piece of the puzzle remains missing. On average, women in Australia continue to earn less than their male counterparts, a persistent issue known as the gender pay gap. Equal Pay Day symbolizes the 56 extra days that women must work from the end of the financial year to earn the same average pay as men.

This year we are taking a stand to make a difference. So we asked the judges for the Gender Equity Awards what they think and this is the response from Karen Millward.

Karen Milward – owner operator of Karen Milward Consulting Services and Chairperson – Kinaway Chamber of Commerce Victoria Ltd

Karen’s message

It is so important for young girls and women globally to have the courage and confidence to ask for equal pay and a pay rise.  For Aboriginal girls and women, we have the added layer of disadvantage.

We were lucky to be able to gain employment in the first instance in the 1970s but only for blue collar jobs and only after the 1967 referendum to give Aboriginal people the same rights as other Australians.  The thought of working in an office, a bank or the corporate world was not heard of, or accepted by the broader Australian community – only domestic work was suitable.

It wasn’t until the 1980s that the Aboriginal community spoke out about having access to education, going to university and studying in any field available.  Aboriginal people relied on government subsidised and sponsored education and employment programs to ensure our community had access to opportunities other Australians have enjoyed for many decades.  Unfortunately, we still need Aboriginal employment programs and strategies to ensure that our community including Aboriginal women have the right to gain the skills, knowledge and expertise so that they can apply for other roles and senior and executive type roles.

Asking for a pay rise or being able to climb the ladder in any sector or industry didn’t present itself until the early 2000s.

My own experience – I have had jobs in mainstream industries and sectors both in identified and unidentified roles.  Asking for a pay rise or another opportunity was not something I thought of a lot as I just felt lucky I had a job.  I didn’t feel valued as a woman or an Aboriginal woman as I was often told I only got the job because I was Aboriginal not on merit – very hurtful as a young woman to experience that from other colleagues and employees. So I just kept my head down, didn’t cause any waves and did my job and I did it well!

It wasn’t until I started my own business in 2004 that I learned how to negotiate my rates for contracts. Although this was great I often got asked after submitting tenders – ‘can you do the same work as a non-Aboriginal consultancy’.  I was like I just wrote this great tender didn’t I? We want to give you an opportunity as an Aboriginal owned and operated business because we can tick some boxes and we look good that we are helping your community out.

Some future clients also asked me if we give you this contract will you reduce your rates – at least we are giving you the work.  This was from non-Aboriginal women in senior roles – so I was a bit shocked. It became pretty clear that I was not valued for my skills, knowledge and expertise it was a tick a box exercise.  I didn’t confront this properly I just let it go and then things changed but then I had the same thing happen only 6 months ago.

I was select tendered with two other non-Aboriginal consultancies for some work and they chose one of the non-Aboriginal consultancies – they said my fees were too high.  I asked for feedback and they said your fees were too high but I said I would negotiate if asked which was on the front page of my proposal and they said no.

I let it go and then a month ago they approached me to say the work that was done wasn’t acceptable because they couldn’t apply the Aboriginal cultural lens to the project.  I told them to go away. 

After 15 years I put my rates up as people kept advising me too but I didn’t want to because I didn’t think I would get the work.  If client’s just valued the work we do as Aboriginal women, it would go a long way to support our confidence and courage to speak up and out.
Now that I am older and have 19 years of consultancy experience under my belt, I encourage other Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal women not to put themselves in this position – I find the younger female generation are doing this better than when I was younger but more work needs to be done to support our women to thrive and be the best that they can be.

We shouldn’t just be breaking the glass ceiling we need to crack it wide open.

Breaking Gender Barriers

Breaking Gender Barriers

Grant Thornton is a world-leading organisation made up of independent assurance, tax and consulting advisors. Operating within the accounting industry, they have traditionally faced a lack of female participation, which notably declines as senior leaders move to the Partner level.

To drive change, the firm decided on a purposeful and proactive approach to their gender equity goals. Hollie Coleman, National Diversity and Inclusion Lead noted that the Gender Equity Action Plan is to achieve and maintain gender equity at all levels of the career structure within the firm by removing structural barriers to gender equality.

Although the talent pipeline is relatively balanced up to the Director level, the number of women advancing to Partner was disproportionate to their male colleagues. By listening to their people through targeted focus groups and direct feedback channels, they were able to understand the real and perceived barriers to advancing to Partner as a female at the firm. The focus is on driving cultural change, improving internal networks and visibility of female leaders, as well as raising awareness of gendered issues in the workplace more broadly.


Key initiatives

One of the initiatives under the Gender Equity Action Plan is an inclusive sponsorship program where each Sponsor supports a future leader through their career journey by providing active sponsorship, as well as (but distinct to) mentoring and coaching. The program focuses on upskilling sponsors first and foremost, while supporting and encouraging future leaders.

A Gender Equity Network (GEN) group was also set up to support women and gender diverse people by building a strong network of members and allies working together to create awareness and understanding, promote conscious inclusion, advocate for gender equity, and strengthen the pipeline of diverse talent for leadership roles. GEN was established on the basis that gender equity is everyone’s business – today one third of the members of GEN are male allies.

GEN launched GENerator Circles, which are “lean-in” groups of up to 12 individuals in local offices where women can meet to expand and strengthen internal networks, grow skills and confidence, and help each other achieve personal goals. This has helped participants discuss and strategise issues from imposter syndrome, and managing their mental load, to identifying their individual circle of advisors. Whatever the challenge, the circles provide support, empathy, understanding and a safe space to speak. For Daniela Baggio, a Manager in the Corporate Tax team, the initiative has been incredibly positive, “Having a dedicated way to channel interest in gender equity in the firm, and to access the support shared in these circles as part of my normal working day is unreal to me. I have personally benefited so much from being part of our GENerator circle and the deeper relationships I have formed has been helpful for day-to-day work activities.” 

The importance of allyship

Other key barriers to women stepping into Partner level identified were the lack of informed and proactive allies, and the need to build networks to generate business and the team at Grant Thornton Australia has set about to systematically remove these barriers.

The concept of allyship was important to provide understanding, encouragement and support across the organisation. “Allyship at Work” training was piloted to build a greater understanding of gender equity issues, the role that privilege plays, and how men could be better allies at work. According to Jarrod Lean, Partner in Risk Consulting, the training has been very beneficial for him, ”The Allyship at Work training was thought provoking and engaging. I think everyone came out of it learning something, and most of all having more awareness of how to be a better ally. It has changed the way I approach interactions at work for the better, and I highly recommend other allies to attend future sessions.


Business development initiatives

Demystifying business development is a key element of the Gender Equity Action Plan, with one of the major initiatives of the program being the internal and external networking opportunities. The Adelaide office has partnered with a local law firm and a Big 4 bank to provide networking opportunities for professional women to regularly meet, allowing the team to build local networks, form potential collaborations, and share cross-business referrals.

The Sydney Financial Advisory team have also set up a women’s network where they regularly meet to discuss topical issues or hear from guest speakers. Holly Stiles, FA Partner and the Executive Sponsor of GEN says, “We have seen very powerful results from our ’Women in Leadership series, including career progression, increased confidence and higher retention rates. Many women have commented that it has been incredibly helpful to discuss issues and to realise that others share similar challenges. The circles have provided a forum for women to share strategies to overcome barriers in their careers and a network of colleagues who support each other.”

The team at Grant Thornton Australia are proud of their work that aims to systematically remove the barriers holding women back.  They are at the leading edge of action with their Inclusive Sponsor Program, Allyship program, GENerator Circles, business development support and networking opportunities. Other initiatives include 26 weeks of paid parental leave including superannuation on the 26-week unpaid portion, flexibility, support and resources for caregivers, and domestic & family violence support.

All these initiatives mean they are well on their way to achieving their gender equity goal: to create an inclusive environment where career aspirations can be realised regardless of gender, and where women and gender diverse people are as equally represented as men all the way through to Partner level. 

If you would like to learn more about the other finalists then click this link.

Balancing Gender for Optimal Emergency Response

Balancing Gender for Optimal Emergency Response

Meet Dr Faye Bendrups, currently Vice Chair of National SES Volunteers Association. She is well known for her work to increase diversity and improve the workplace culture of the SES. As an emergency services frontline responder for over 17 years, she has served in multiple leadership roles and is proud to have supported numerous women into leadership roles at all levels. Her advice to women considering joining the emergency services is, “You can’t make the change if you are not in the room.”

Many would consider the SES a male-dominated organisation based on a hierarchical military structure. Today that is changing. Dr Bendrups says, “I have advocated for and strengthened the input of women and others from diverse backgrounds.”

It all starts with recruitment where they aim is to have a gender balance across the total force. A key initiative to enable this has been the presence of women on interviewing panels and showcasing them as roles models. Another is the emphasis on providing training to everyone, regardless of their gender. These days, no one is excluded for not having skills so both men and women who do not know how to use a chainsaw or drive a truck are trained to do exactly that.

Once engaged, all recruits are offered training opportunities in a safe and supported environment. Mentors are provided and all recruits are supported to succeed. For example, one young woman recently completed her Cert. 4 in Leadership and was encouraged to lead her unit. She had excelled as a self-starter and always delivered yet did not see her own potential. Through mentoring, she was encouraged to step up. Eventually, she became confident earning the respect of her team as a good leader. In her day job, she has embraced leadership too and her training in the SES was integral in giving her the confidence to go for a promotion interstate. She got that job and continues to progress her career. She is now leading multiple statewide divisions.

Dr Faye Bendrups meeting with General Murgueytio, Chief of Civil Defence, Peru

Dr Bendrups has been a truly inspirational leader. She is one of only a few women nationwide to be trained as an Operations Officer, a Safety Officer, and a Base Camp Manager for bushfire response operations. For her service during the 2019-2020 bushfires, she received the National Emergency Medal.

A particularly influential and controversial project she developed was a survey on Culture and Conduct in the SES. This revealed hundreds of cases of bullying, sexual harassment, coercive control, and other discriminatory behaviours. It led to a complete renovation of SES systems and a determination by the whole organisation to commit to organisational change, greater diversity, and an overhaul of cultural practices.

Being in the SES is not easy as it requires a time commitment of training one night every week as well as time on call. This is particularly challenging for single parents. One unit decided to overcome this hurdle to provide childcare. Whilst getting this approved wasn’t easy, they are proud to be able to provide this opportunity to single parents.

The benefits of inclusiveness were evident to Dr Bendrups when she was the recipient of an Emergency Services Foundation research grant and was seconded to the National Institute of Civil Defence, Lima, Peru. Peru suffers from 400 earthquakes a year and they have developed a unique approach to emergency response. Four times a year, the entire nation stops to participate in a drill. So when the alarm goes off to indicate the drill, everything stops (schools, businesses, even the cars driving along the roads) so everyone can get to their appropriate station. Bendrups found it an amazing experience as she realised emergencies are everyone’s problem and everyone has a part to play.

She has learnt from this experience and is looking to collaborate with councils to establish a series of community action plans in Australia. She recently cited the flood problems we had in Melbourne with the Maribyrnong River overflowing and flooding various homes and businesses as one typical situation in which the community could have played a bigger part. Although she quickly points out, she is not suggesting they all become SES volunteers. What she saw in Peru was the community doing simple, achievable tasks that freed up the emergency workers to concentrate on the complex and critical activities.

Today the SES promotes inclusiveness across the board including race, sexuality, and gender. A sign of this culture of tolerance and trust is that several gay and lesbian recruits have felt comfortable to “come out” with their teams. It is this confidence and trust that builds the team cohesion leading to better outcomes when under the pressure of an emergency situation.

To see the other finalists go to https://genderequityawards.com.au/

Giving Women a Voice

Giving Women a Voice

For Dan Bognar, General Manager at DocuSign in Asia Pacific, giving women a voice is something he is deeply passionate about.

Over his career, this has taken many forms. From mentoring and sponsoring high potential female talent, to creating a safe place for women to work and championing them to raise issues when they have been bullied or harassed, Dan has done it all.

Early in his career, he realised there were many talented young women who had the potential to be great leaders though often lacked the confidence in themselves to see this. He found by demonstrating his confidence in them, finding them opportunities to take on opportunity outside their role and encouraging them to go beyond what they thought possible, they were able to flourish.

One example he shared was of a young woman in the marketing team who became increasingly more uncomfortable as her stakeholder map grew. When asked why she was becoming withdrawn in meetings, he found out it was because she did not feel her voice mattered, that she did not always agree with everyone else and her ideas would not be accepted. Dan, who values a diversity of perspectives & ideas, was able to get her to understand just how valuable her contributions could be in getting the team to a better outcome. Armed with renewed confidence she slowly began to speak up. It didn’t take too long for her to be promoted and she has had a fabulous career trajectory ever since.

As their mentor, female employees have often confided in Dan about situations of harassment or bullying. They go on to share that they only want him to listen and not to act. The women are concerned that if they do speak up, change won’t occur and the worst case scenario is that they will have negative career repercussions a result.  Dan openly admits he is conflicted. As a mentor, he must maintain confidentiality, but as a senior leader he does not condone activities that are counter to the company’s and his own values. He says he is often “aghast at the behaviour of some men”. The only solution has been to address this at the leadership level by being clearer about the values the company stands for and the behaviours which won’t be tolerated.


One situation he described happened after a customer dinner. The morning after, he was approached by the female account executive who confided in him that one of the male customers had manhandled her as she was attempting to leave for the night. It was an awkward situation because the account executive was working on a significant deal with that customer with commercial ramifications for the company. At the same time, this behaviour was contradictory to the customer’s company’s values too. Dan was concerned about ensuring the account executive have a voice and that she could share her story safely. His decision was to get HR and the other senior leaders involved. They all agreed it was unacceptable behaviour and they would back their values and their team member despite the potential negative commercial impact. They wanted the female account executive to feel they had her back, that she was in the driver’s seat and the decision to proceed with any formal complaint was hers.

Promoting a safe environment for females to work is something that Dan is very aware of. He feels privileged to have these confidences shared with him and is actively working to raise the awareness of his male team to the problems of female employees not always feeling safe. “Many men don’t even realise that before women will go to a social event, they think who will I be going with? Am I going to be safe? And how am I getting home? Whereas men only need to consider turning up at the event.”

His overall goal is to embrace diversity in all its forms and break down the barriers, not just around gender, but across experience. disability, religion, gender orientation and more. Dan is continuing to champion awareness with ongoing training on “How to have difficult conversations” & “How to Find your Voice”. There is no doubt his actions will continue to make a difference to his team and enable many women to find their voices.

The Gender Equity Roadmap

The Gender Equity Roadmap

The Gender Equity Road map started here.

It started with a dream to find out what great businesses and individuals were doing to champion gender equity.  Amazingly a vast array of businesses stepped up to share their practices and many humble Individuals who were nominated have shared their stories.  The journey had begun. The process involved 20 diverse judges, 50% women and men, industry experts from all walks of business who invested their expertise. All of this was overviewed by KPMG to ensure the results were unbiased and valid.

We are excited to announce that eight months later we can share the initiatives and the behaviours that are consistently making a difference.

It’s all about people.

Overall, the leading companies are able to look after their people as individuals, with an array of flexibility and resources that are making a difference. Easy to say but hard to imagine so here are some examples.

Cotton On have a mantra of “inspiring, caring for and growing their people is at the heart of who they”. They have a smorgasbord of initiatives that range from: –

  • the Family & You Childcare offered affordably and for piece of mind of their head office team
  • to Returnity, a phased return to work program after parental leave,
  • to Baby and YOU Packs A pack of sleepwear, activewear and newborn essentials
  • to Furry friends’ initiatives for the 4-pawed family members

In the manufacturing industry Jayco have innovated to enable working mothers to work in short shifts around their parenting duties of school drop off & pick-up. The impact for both has been amazing with the mums being able to re-enter the workforce and gain some financial stability. From Jayco’s perspective this shift is incredibly productive. They also sponsor development for women from the factory floor into all levels of management. This has impacted the leadership team which has gone from 20% women to 50% today.

In the legal industry, Coulter Legal are championing flexibility in working at all levels. For example, they have Senior Principal Lawyer in a part time role. Unheard of this industry and it’s not just five days of work squashed into four, they have realigned the KPI’s to spread the responsibility across the team.  Another example is unbiased professional progression, on one occasion they promoted one of their Lawyers to Senior Lawyer while she was on maternity leave.

A number of these organisations actively champion and engage with communities that are discriminated against like Polaron who champion migrant women into their language services businesses.

Accuteque are an IT company started by Caroline Patton with the majority of directors & senior leaders being women, again highly unusual in IT. They promote unbiased recruitment based on their policy of  “we accept people for who they are”. This embraces people of all ages whether returning to work, at the end of the career or starting out.


It’s all about equity

In the sporting industry, which is traditionally male dominated GippSport, they have been at the forefront advocating for Gender Equality implementing a huge breadth of initiatives. They understood that to positively impact the gender imbalance on the pitch they would need to start with their own organisation. CEO Dan Pynton, is incredibly proud of the work they have done to recruit and develop the women on the GippSport team. It hasn’t been easy; they have had to chase down funding and invest equitably in women to address the imbalance that is historical in the community sport sector. As a result, one of their team has completed the Foundation Company Directors program, others have finished the various Government funded Emerging Leader’s program’s and three traineeships have been established.

“It is about equity, not equality,” says Dan.

In a proactive effort to ensure his team was on board with the investment in women, Dan started with training his male staff as allies. Today, GippSport has grown to three times its former size with women’s representation changing from 20% of the team to 60%. This is replicated on GippSport’s Board where 5 of 8 of the Directors are women from a range of backgrounds and professions.


It’s all about fairness

The Construction Training Centre. Created a landmark initiative when they determined to pay an extra 1% superannuation to all their female employees as well as continuing their full super whilst on maternity leave. Driven by the huge gap in superannuation between men and women at retirement, CEO, Phil Diver, felt the initiative was justified. His first challenge was to get his organisation and board onside which involved a number of robust discussions. With the support of the board and key sponsor the late Ron Monaghan, the initiative was approved. (Ron was also the driving force behind having the stolen wages for First Nations people repaid by the Queensland government.)  However, to do so it had to be done lawfully which required arguing the case before the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal. QCAT ruled in favour of the Construction Training Centre and the superannuation changes were approved and implemented. At the time, this decision created some media interest in Queensland and the female staff have been enjoying the additional superannuation for over five years.

It’s all in the words …

In some cases, it’s the semantics that count. Simply changing the parental leave offering by removing the primary & secondary carer status has had a huge impact. It has changed how employees feel, it demonstrates a culture of caring for families and it has had a huge uptake by both male & female employees.

Its all about breaking down the biases

GippSport actively support female leaders across all community sporting groups to succeed. In one example a new president of the Board riders association in Phillip Island was elected and as the second female to hold the role felt “out of her depth”. With the support of the team, she has embraced the role and is now widely recognised as a role model.  

In other activities they champion coaches & other leaders who form non-traditional role models in an effort to break down stereotypes with a goal to reduce domestic violence.


It’s all about inclusion…

Many of these businesses have broadened parental leave to encompass adoption, IVF and even recognising still birth leave needs.

Inclusion starts with finding those excluded or discriminated against. All these organisations have gone out of their way to establish inclusive networks to encourage these individuals to find their voice & overcome their obstacles.

There are many male dominated industries like technology and manufacturing. Certainly businesses with in technology have been innovative with programs such as She Builds AWS Girls Tech Days and Go Girl Go for IT. Others have implemented ones to reskill women in technology so they are employable into this lucrative market.

It takes a village to create change

From an individual perspective we discovered a common trait in all the finalists was their willingness to go above and beyond, to challenge the status quo, & help create the change that was needed.

Leonie Noble was frustrated with government edicts that impacted the fishing industry and determined to “have a voice” . After loads of letter writing the minister came to town and encouraged her to get involved with policy. Today she is still advocating for necessary changes, as the president of the National Rural Women’s Coalition her remit has expanded, she now has a voice for rural women all over the world

Leonora Risse, as a senior economist, has felt women  in economics were persistently being under represented and rarely present in the media. To create change she co-founded the Women in Economics Network (WEN) in Australia in 2017, to tackle this inequity head-on. The outcome has been to the elevating of economic issues that are of concern to women, for instance COVID impact to the gender pay gap, and improving the visibility of female economists in public debate.

It ends with a dream..

Now it’s up to you. Take these ideas and apply them to your industry or business or perhaps challenge the status quo. If we all play a part no matter how big or small we can make difference. It takes a village to raise a child and it is going to take all of us to create Gender Equality.


These stories are told in full on the Recalibrate – Gender Equity Awards website.