Christine Holgate

Christine Holgate’s ugly gender pay issue

Christine Holgate's pay issue that looks and smells like a big gap for women.

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The appointment of Christine Holgate to Australia Posts looks every bit like an ugly reflection of the gender pay gap in this country. The truth is, that is, even when it isn’t.

The former Blackmore’s chief executive will replace the outgoing Australia Post boss Ahmed Fahour when she leaves the vitamins company in September.

But the main sticking point is that she’ll do so on a salary that makes the 16 per cent difference in the national gender pay gap look insignificant.

Ms Holgate is said to be happy about taking what’s at least a 50 per cent pay cut to her predecessor’s controversial pay packet, on the basis that doing so not only gets her the job but will see her become the first woman to lead Australia Post.

Yes, that’s an achievement to be celebrated but the elephant in the room is whether it’s all happening at the expense of a woman’s worth?

At Australia Post, Ms Holgate will earn a salary of $1.375 million with the potential to earn double the amount in bonuses and potentially collect $2.75 million.

Ms Holgate’s salary at Australia Post will also be less than the $3.6 million she reportedly earned last year at Blackmores.

Compare that to the rather controversial $5.6 million that Mr Ahmed earned last year in his seventh year in the job.

It was a salary that triggered public anger but he denies it’s what led to his resignation.

Certainly it doesn’t appear that money is an issue for Australia Post with Mr Ahmed’s parting salary rumoured to be up to $8 million once bonuses are included.

What these numbers say to women is that the gender pay gap is alive and well, potentially because some of us allow it to be.

Yes there are issues, but there will always be issues with a departing CEO.

In a press conference on Tuesday, Ms Holgate said that “pay has never been the driver” for her wanting to do a job.

Saying it’s not about the pay is something that many women can relate to in Australian workplaces as they give up on better pay to be first in their fields or accept flexible work conditions over pay increases.

News.com.au also reported that her only request to Auspost Chairman John Stanhope was to “pay me what you think is fair”.

Fair for a top business woman is not asking her to take significantly less just to help the company win back the average Joe because the average Jane doesn’t like it.

Over the years Ms Holgate has been responsible for Blackmore’s becoming one of the best performing listed companies in Australia.

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