Seymour Whyte Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director John Kirkwood was recently named a Workplace Gender Equality Agency ambassador for pay equity. Here, he shares his thoughts on the role:
I’m looking forward to my latest challenge—taking on the role of a Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) ambassador for pay equity.
When I started my career in 1975, a female engineer or even colleague, would rarely be seen on any construction or building site. Over the course of my 43 years in construction, it has been good to see this change. The industry is richer, more innovative and resilient because of greater gender diversity. I have had the privilege of working with the smartest, most committed and enthusiastic engineers—many of them female.
In my early career, I assumed that female employees were paid the same as their male counterparts. Shining a light on pay equity, has meant far greater scrutiny on this issue, which is a good thing. As a senior manager today, I understand that employers do not intentionally pay women less than men but unconscious gender biases can impact performance scores, promotion opportunities, and ultimately, pay decisions.
Seymour Whyte strives for equal pay at each job grade (between +/- 2% variance). This is reported on and analysed at each pay review. We currently sit at 4.54% variance, which is largely due to gaps in individuals’ experience within each job grade.
We are working on a number of initiatives to close this gap, including introduction of a competency matrix to guide career development, a mentoring program and training to raise awareness of unconscious bias.
Working with the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, I look forward to achieving the goal of pay equity, not just within Seymour Whyte but across the engineering and construction industry.
Seymour Whyte CEO and MD John Kirkwood (centre) at an International Women’s Day celebration with Brisbane staff