Why would there be any discrepancy between what men and women in the same law firm are paid? There would be no rational explanation for it.
That was the thinking of Michael Greene, the managing partner of Sydney law firm Henry Davis York, for many years. Conducting a pay audit and discovering that a gap did in fact exist in his firm, to the tune of roughly 20 per cent, is what changed Greene's previously held position.
It's also what prompted a correction to eliminate the gap - irrational or otherwise.
The fact I can recall Greene's frank admission, almost word for word without consulting my notes or the web to jog my memory, 3?? years on says something about its significance.
It was disclosed to a room of journalists and diversity experts at an event hosted by the NSW Equal Employment Opportunity Practitioners' Association and it still stands out in my mind. Why?
Because a problem was identified and addressed.
It wasn't dismissed as too hard or too complicated. It wasn't relegated to a special committee to rectify at a later date or a roundtable to dissect. It wasn't deemed too insignificant to address nor was it considered beyond the realm of human capability to overcome.
A pay gap between men and women was identified - at every level of the firm - and it was fixed.
How can something as seemingly intractable, stubborn, complex and multifaceted as the pay gap be fixed?
Easily, as Henry Davis York's Greene showed.
It requires diving into data (which most large organisations in Australia already have to hand as a result of reporting to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency), conducting an analysis and being willing to correct any discrepancy. The tools to do this are free and readily available.
But in 2015-16, just 27 per cent of the 12,000 organisations that report to WGEA undertook such an analysis.
These organisations employ around 4 million people, a significant chunk of the workforce, and three-quarters of them haven't taken the first step to achieving pay equity.
It shows the pay gap isn't intractable because it's impossible to fix: it has remained intractable - in part - because too many employers have lacked the will to address it.
It's worth considering in light of the Tax Office's release of tax data this week, which shows, once again, the discrepancy between men and women's earnings in Australia is stark.
According to the Tax Office, the average total earnings for men working full-time is $89,221 while for women working full-time it's $72,212.
Those overall figures are high-level but drilling down further doesn't improve the picture.
Women represent just one in four of the richest 10 per cent of earners, and almost three in five of the poorest 10 per cent of earners. Across many fields - even sectors dominated by women - men remain better paid than women.
The reasons for this are many and varied: there are undoubtedly structural issues at play. But the fact remains that some of the pay gap isn't merely structural - it's habitual. And it's possible to change.
As someone immersed in the workplace gender equality space for a number of years I have been to more events than I could possibly count. Big events, small events, panel events, conference events and roundtable events. Many, many, times over.
And I have only been to one where a leader stood up and admitted there was a problem in his organisation - a problem he admitted he hadn't recognised for years - and explained how he took action to rectify it.
My theory is the number of events in the space would dwindle in direct proportion to the number of leaders willing to do this.
The time for talking is done, it's time for action and analysis. If you work for one of the 73 per cent of employers who haven't conducted a pay audit, ask them why not. It seems without prompting, they aren't going to take the first step. If 4 million of us start asking, we might just have a shot at shrinking the pay gap.
Georgina Dent is a journalist, editor and TV commentator with a keen focus on women's empowerment and gender equality.