25 September 2017

Committing to reduce the gender pay gap in Australia

By Martin Tricaud, Chief Executive Officer, HSBC Australia

Sunday 5 November. That’s the day that women in Australia will effectively start working for free for the rest of the year.

According to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), the national gender pay gap is currently 15.3% and has been consistently around that level for over two decades.

The agency has found that the pay gap between men and women’s pay is influenced by factors including industry sectors, unconscious bias, access to flexible working practices and the fact that women tend to take greater time out of the workforce, which can impact on career progression and opportunities.

This inequity is clearly bad for women, but it is my belief that it’s also bad for organisations and society as it can reduce people’s independence and choices and create long-term financial insecurity. That’s why I have taken the decision to become a pay equity ambassador.

Women comprise a slight majority of roles here at HSBC Australia but we know that more progress is required to ensure better gender equality. A key part of that is increasing our ambition for the number of women holding leadership roles in the bank.

Another commitment is to regularly review salaries, both internally and using external benchmarks, taking into account factors such as starting salaries, promotions of part-time employees and pay of parents returning from leave. Where we identify gaps, we will take action.

Other steps we are taking to support gender equality include:

  • Providing all primary carers (regardless of gender) with up to 15 weeks paid parental leave with the option to take up to 24 months unpaid leave after the birth or adoption of a child. Parental leave for secondary carers has also been increased from five days to ten days after the birth or adoption of a child.
  • Continuing superannuation payments for staff on unpaid parental leave up to 24 months.
  • Encouraging flexible working practices in different formats for all employees.
  • Introducing Wellness Days – an extra paid leave day for all staff, rising to three Wellness Days for staff who have been with HSBC for more than five years.
  • Tracking the reasons given by colleagues who leave the bank during parental leave, or shortly after returning from parental leave
  • Company-wide female development and support network (‘Ascend’) and sponsorship of the Diversity Council of Australia and the HSBC Women in Finance Mentoring Program with FINSOC.

Our commitment to pay equity of course fits within our broader diversity and inclusion goals. These include guaranteeing that all employees are valued and respected, maintaining a workforce that reflects the diversity of our customers, providing career progression through meritocracy and offering opportunities for career growth regardless of gender.

It is my belief that sustained change is best achieved through the actions of many. I therefore encourage other senior executives in the Australian business community to join me in making the pay equity pledge with the Workplace Gender Equality Agency.