Date posted: 07/06/2021 5 min read

The numbers that reveal a strong case for change

The gender pay gap in the accounting sector is real. Fixing it means looking at the ‘why’ and ‘how’ behind the ‘what’.

In Brief

  • A recent survey has found that male CAs in Australia and New Zealand are paid about 40-50% more than women.
  • Almost 7 in 10 female CAs say there is a gender pay gap, but fewer than 3 in 10 of their male colleagues agree.
  • 95% of those surveyed believe CA ANZ should address the issue of unequal pay and opportunities.

Chartered accountants are storytellers. We bring numbers to life, weaving a real-time story about a business’s health, its forecast trajectory, and any opportunities or challenges that could impact the bottom line.

We investigate the ‘why’ and ‘how’ behind the ‘what’; the reasons why the numbers come up the way they do.

So today I’d like to give you some numbers. Then, as a profession, let’s weave the story together.

The reality of the gender pay gap

The numbers are from a new survey of more than 4500 of our CA ANZ members. The survey reports that male CAs in Australia and New Zealand are paid about 40-50% more than women.

However, only 45% of our members believe there is a gender pay gap in the accounting profession. If we look at this through a gender lens, almost 7 in 10 women believe there is a gender pay gap, compared to less than 3 in 10 men.

Of those who say there is a pay gap, the key reasons cited include women’s responsibilities caring for children or the elderly, followed by the fact that senior positions are mostly filled by men.

Almost half the women surveyed have taken career breaks to provide parental or other care. Two-thirds of those who took a break say it impacted their career.

What we are seeing is that for junior positions, women’s pay is generally equal to or sometimes even higher than men’s. But as CAs continue in their careers, we see fewer women rise to senior positions. Men, in turn, start earning more and the pay gap widens.

We also tried to see whether the number of hours worked made a difference. We ran a like-for-like comparison on the same number of hours worked by men and women. The gender pay gap remained.

So, what can we do about it?

Diversity is good for business

The business case for diversity and inclusion in the workplace has been acknowledged over the past 10-15 years. We know that having differing opinions and diverse perspectives delivers greater innovation, more creativity, better problem solving and profitability.

McKinsey research shows gender-diverse companies are 21% more likely to experience above-average profitability and 27% more likely to create longer-term value than companies that are not gender-diverse.

The numbers in our survey also paint a picture of hope. When we asked if people believed men and women should be compensated equally for similar work and experience levels, almost all respondents said ‘yes’.

“The numbers in our survey also paint a picture of hope.”
Dr Nives Botica Redmayne FCA

Therefore, I encourage you not to see the survey as one report in a long line that outlines a gender pay gap, but challenge yourself to take that next step and ask, ‘what can I do about it?’

Finding solutions

We are asking that question ourselves here at CA ANZ, about what difference we can make as a profession and as a workplace. And we know there is support: 95% of those surveyed acknowledge it is important for CA ANZ to address this issue.

So, these are the numbers. For me, they outline a strong case for change and a strong case to take a stand and take action. We look forward to doing just that.

Read more:

Mind the gap: Surprises in the 2021 CA ANZ Remuneration Report

Here’s what senior chartered accountants say is needed to make wages truly equal.

Read more

Full results of the 2021 CA ANZ Remuneration Report

What chartered accountants are being paid in 2021 by location, by job, by gender and more.

Read all the findings