Australia’s leading sports organisations have joined forces, releasing a plan to advance equal pay for elite women athletes.
- NRL, FFA, rugby union and cricket bosses among those detailing actions needed to close the pay gap
- The signatories to the report will evaluate and report on their pay equity performance each year for five years
- Tennis Australia and Cricket Australia are cited as groups that have taken steps to try to achieve pay equity
The Male Champions of Change (MCC) in Sport group released their “Pathway to Pay Equality” initiative, detailing the specific actions needed to close the gender pay gap.
It is believed to be the first time internationally that leaders of competing sporting codes and clubs have united on the issue.
The initiative brings together 17 Australian sporting chief executives — including the heads of five AFL clubs, although not the AFL’s chief executive, Gillon McLachlan.
Among those taking part were NRL chief Todd Greenberg, FFA chief executive David Gallop, Rugby Australia chief Raelene Castle, Sport Australia chief Kate Palmer and Cricket Australia chief Kevin Roberts.
Founder and convenor of MCC Sport Elizabeth Broderick — also a UN special rapporteur — said sport played a critical role in Australia’s economy, national identity, social cohesion and community wellbeing.
“Yet equal pay — the most visible manifestation of a genuine commitment to equality — still remains out of reach for elite women athletes across many sports,” Ms Broderick said.
“We believe the inter-connected steps outlined in the report provide the pathway to gender equality and delivering equal pay in sport.”
The report found that there were three key steps in defining pay equity:
- Distinguishing between the payments the sport can directly control and those it cannot (where pay equity only relates to the payments the sport can control)
- Defining the different types of work that athletes perform, such as training, competing, media and community work — where each “work unit” would attract a specific fee (a lump sum, match fee or hourly rate)
- Determining the rate of pay for each type of work, designed so that men’s work is not valued more highly than women, and that opportunities for work are not unfairly skewed towards men
The signatories to the report have committed to evaluate their performance and report annually over the next five years to make sure of maximum progress toward the goal of pay equity and equality.
Pay Equity and Pay Equality
- Pay Equity: Men and women competing in the same sport receiving equal pay for work of equal and comparable value
- Pay Equality: Men and women’s sport are equally valued, providing men and women with access to the same remuneration package
* From Male Champions of Change Pathway to Pay Equality report, 2019
The report outlined the difference between like-for-like pay equity and sustainable pay equality, and found support was required across the “entire sports ecosystem” to achieve pay equality.
“Our goal is to create the operating environments, systems and cultures which will make equality, pay equity and sustainable pay equality the norm rather than the exception, across all elite sport,” the report said.
Ms Palmer said Australia had the opportunity to be a global leader.
“Many of our elite women athletes are among the most successful on the world stage,” she said.
“As a sports-loving nation, we are championing a system-wide re-set in the way we support, pay and reward our female athletes.
“The benefits to our economy, our community and our athletes will be exponential.”
Tennis, cricket role models for pay equity
As an example, MCC Sport pointed to the case of tennis, where Tennis Australia has moved over the last 35 years to introduce pay equality at all major local tournaments, starting with the Australian Open.
“We’ve demonstrated through equal prize money and exposure that women’s tennis has massive appeal and can more than hold its own,” Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley said.
“This is driven by the belief that the best player of a grand slam event — both male and female — should be rewarded equally for their ability to achieve at the highest level.
“It’s an approach that has delivered overwhelmingly positive outcomes for tennis.”
The report pointed to women’s matches being featured on major courts at the Australian Open, the playing of the women’s singles final in prime time, and the commitment of equal resources to male and female tennis performance in Australia, as among the outcomes flowing from the moves by Tennis Australia.
The other main example cited was Cricket Australia’s pay deal in 2017, which introduced an equal base rate of pay for male and female elite cricketers for the first time.
“We want our women’s elite teams to help shape the brand of cricket, drive the game’s growth and continue to deliver international success,” Mr Roberts said.
“On every measure they have done this as athletes and ambassadors. There is no question they deserve pay parity and we developed a model to achieve this.
“We are continuing to put in place the systems and support to ensure we can deliver sustainable pay equality.”
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