Australian fashion retailer Forever New has responded to its gender pay gap result of 51.3 per cent that was revealed by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency this week in a national gender pay gap report.

In previous years, the report covered only industry-level data, whereas the latest report unveils unique data for all employers in Australia that have a workforce above 100 people.

In a statement received by Ragtrader, Forever New stated the gender pay gap is not the same as equal pay. 

“While the gender pay gap can be a useful proxy for measuring and tracking gender equality across an industry, there are many factors which can influence the rating at an organisation level,” the company reported. “The results can be misleading without understanding the context. 

Forever New has a workforce of 1,436 team members, with 75% of employees working in retail stores - the majority of whom are female. 

There are 356 head office roles, with 83% of these (296) being held by women.  

“There are 65 male employees at Forever New, 62 of which work at head office, which means the median salary for males primarily reflects head office salaries, while the median salary for females is influenced by a larger number of entry-level and retail positions.

The WGEA report revealed that upon dividing Forever New’s entire workforce into four salary bands - lower ($45,000 average salary), lower middle ($56,000 average salary), upper middle ($64,000 average salary), and upper quartile ($111,000 average salary)—women comprise 84% of the highest pay category, while men represent 16% of this same category.

“Women occupy 89% of manager level roles - this encompasses all managerial roles, spanning both retail (including regional managers, store managers, assistant managers, cluster managers, head of retail, etc.) and managerial positions within head office.

“As a brand, Forever New has policies in place to ensure equal remuneration between women and men and offers flexible work arrangements for females to continue to progress in their careers.”

Plus-size retailer City Chic Collective, which recorded the largest gender pay gap across Australia’s fashion industry of 57.4 per cent, also responded to its results. 

The WGEA report showed 96 per cent of City Chic’s workforce is women. Of those in the upper quartile, 16 per cent are men, with just one per cent of men in the upper middle. Below this is 100 per cent women. 

“City Chic is committed to gender equality in remuneration and, where appropriate, gender diversity in its employment practices,” the company shared in a statement. “Given the nature of City Chic’s business (plus size women’s fashion), a limited number of roles are appropriately open to gender diversity, with the majority of its personnel being in customer-facing sales roles. 

“As at the date of the WGEA data being compiled, men constituted just 4% of City Chic’s total employee base. Men and women that hold equivalent roles are on equivalent pay. 

“This includes all general manager and operational manager positions, 75% of which are held by women.”

Meanwhile, the WGEA results gave Seafolly a median total remuneration gender pay gap of 44.5 per cent. This is despite 97 per cent of its workforce being women. 

In response, Seafolly stated that while the median data point may suggest a disparity due to the smaller number of male employees in full-time roles at its Support Centre, it does not accurately reflect its commitment to equity.

"Addressing the gender pay gap, it's essential to consider the dynamics within our organization. Currently, 74% of our Australian-based staff operate in our 26 retail locations, with the remaining positions based in the Seafolly Support Centre.

"100% of retail-based positions at Seafolly are filled by women, with a significant number choosing part-time or casual work, offering essential flexibility to accommodate various needs. This arrangement ensures that our team members can balance their work commitments effectively while maintaining flexibility to meet personal obligations.

"Shopping for swimwear can be an intimate and personal experience, intertwined with confidence and self-expression. Recognizing this, Seafolly takes great pride in our 100% female-led retail team, who offer unparalleled support and expertise to our customers."

The swimwear brand added that it is steadfast in its commitment to gender equality.

"Seafolly is continuously evolving to cultivate a truly equitable workplace, offering comprehensive benefits such as paid maternity leave and flexible working arrangements to support women throughout their careers and life stages.

"Our dedication to fostering inclusivity and empowerment remains unwavering. Seafolly is committed to championing gender equality and creating a workplace where everyone can thrive, regardless of gender."

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