4 Quick Facts: Unpacking WGEA data on women in Australian Banking and Finance

By Kath Deakin - PhD Candidate, Centre for Social Impact, Faculty of Business and Law, Swinburne University of Technology

07 Apr 2020

Originally published 4th March 2020, reposted with permission from Kath Deakin.

Over the past decade we have started to form a clearer statistical picture of the gender workforce composition in Australian finance and insurance.

Knowledge is power so here are some quick facts about our industry and gender equity drawn from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency – Data Explorer.

We’ve made some progress…

  1. More women
    The WGEA Data Explorer shows that  our sector today is clearly somewhere women want to, and are, working. Financial and Insurance Services is a ‘feminised’ workforce made up of 54.7% women (the average across other industries is women representing 49.7% of the workforce).
  1. Employers of Choice
    Companies in our sector are increasingly putting in place gender equity strategies and polices. In 2020, 23 companies in the Financial and Insurance Services category received the Employer of Choice for Gender Equality Citation awarded by the independent Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA). The only industry with more citations was Professional, Scientific and Technical Services.

However, we shouldn’t be complacent. We still have some way to go.

  1. Largest industry pay gap (eek!)
    Our sector consistently ranks as the industry with the largest gender pay gap: a 29.5 percent average total remuneration  gender pay gap for full-time employees in 2019 (Australia’s national gender pay gap is around 20.8 percent)[i].
    The overall gap has reduced since reporting to WGEA commenced, decreasing from a whopping 36.1% in 2014 for our sector. However, in 2019 the gender pay gap widened for those women in key management role to 23.1% (was 14.5% in 2018) and also for women in non-management sales roles to 28.4% (was 25.7% in 2018).[ii]
  1. Leadership balance
    Overall, we are seeing more women move into leadership roles in Australian Financial and Insurance Services with women representing approximately 41% of all managers in our sector in 2019. However, only 9.5% of CEO/ Head of Australian Business roles are occupied by women, compared to the already low average across all other Australian industries of 17.1% holding these leadership roles.[iii]

Remember too, these gender pay and leadership gaps exist whilst the financial and insurance services sector has a highly feminised workforce.

Source: Workplace Gender Equality Agency(WGEA) 2020 – https://data.wgea.gov.au/overview

‘Get to know your data’

Statistics only tell one part of the story and need to be couched in context.  The data does however help prompt important questions: How do we compare to other industries? What we can do better collectively?

Transparency of data can also help us individually. Non-public sector companies with 100 or more employees report their gender equity measures annually to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency. Perhaps it’s worth getting to know the data about your company before your next career move?


Kath Deakin is a PhD Candidate, Centre for Social Impact, Swinburne University of Technology currently researching Australian bank workplace gender equity.


[i] Total remuneration includes full-time base salary plus any additional benefits – bonus payments, performance pay, superannuation, discretionary pay, overtime, other allowances and benefits, for example share allocations. It is important to consider total renumeration calculations (over base salary calculations) given bonus payments and share allocations are a significant feature of Australian banking employee benefits.

[ii] Workplace Gender Equality Agency 2019 ‘Gender Pay Gaps: Financial and Insurance Sector’. https://data.wgea.gov.au/industries/27#pay_equity_content

[iii] Workplace Gender Equality Agency 2019 ‘Workforce Composition: Financial and Insurance Sector’. https://data.wgea.gov.au/industries/27#gender_comp_content