News | Politics
19 Jul 2024 5:14
NZCity News
NZCity CalculatorReturn to NZCity

  • Start Page
  • Personalise
  • Sport
  • Weather
  • Finance
  • Shopping
  • Jobs
  • Horoscopes
  • Lotto Results
  • Photo Gallery
  • Site Gallery
  • TVNow
  • Dating
  • SearchNZ
  • NZSearch
  • RugbyLeague
  • Make Home
  • About NZCity
  • Contact NZCity
  • Your Privacy
  • Advertising
  • Login
  • Join for Free

  •   Home > News > Politics

    Pay transparency would help close NZ’s gender gap – why is progress so slow?

    Requiring employers to be open about who gets paid what is just one tool for closing the gender pay gap. But the government is showing little sign of seriously tackling the issue.

    Emma Hitchcock, PhD Candidate in Management, Auckland University of Technology, Katherine Ravenswood, Professor of Industrial Relations, Auckland University of Technology
    The Conversation

    New Zealand Parliament
    New Zealand Parliament

    Announcing her government’s plan to disestablish the Equal Pay Taskforce in May, Minister for the Public Service Nicola Willis argued the “process for settling pay equity claims has now matured” enough that the taskforce was no longer required.

    Only a week earlier, New Zealand had praised the taskforce’s work in reducing pay gaps for women, Maori and Pacific people, during the United Nations’ five-yearly review of the country’s human rights record.

    To maintain progress, the UN recommended New Zealand introduce “pay transparency” legislation. Essentially, this would require employers to openly share the pay or pay ranges of different jobs, making gender gaps harder to disguise and justify.

    However, the government has just announced it will not introduce Labour’s pre-election promise to provide mandatory gender pay gap reporting. Instead, it plans a voluntary reporting system for businesses, despite studies showing mandates are more effective.

    Increasing transparency and access to this information would mean employees can find out what others earn – and negotiate accordingly. Many governments are legislating for pay transparency through equal pay audits, pay gap reporting, and gender-neutral job classification systems.

    To that end, the Labour opposition spokesperson for workplace relations and safety, Camilla Belich, has introduced the Employment Relations (Employee Remuneration Disclosure) Amendment Bill, aimed at supporting a path to pay transparency.

    The bill has only had its first reading in parliament. But if enacted, it would stop employers using confidentiality agreements to prevent employees discussing their pay, and would ensure such information was available to challenge cases of pay discrimination.

    Although this is a positive step, we need to be wary of assuming pay transparency on its own is a magic wand to fix the gender pay gap.

    Nicola Willis speaking at a lectern
    Minister for the Public Service Nicola Willis: pay equity process has ‘matured’. Getty Images

    Gender not the only factor

    New Zealand’s gender pay gap – the difference between the median hourly earnings of women and men – is comparatively small, but it is persistent.

    In 2023, it was 8.6% overall, but is worse for Maori (28.6%), Pacific (31.3%) and Asian (34.1%) women. The Human Rights Commission and others have argued ethnicity should be included in pay transparency requirements.

    The past few years did see some gains, however, with pay equity settlements for early childhood teachers, nurses and social workers (among others). The previous government’s 2023 budget also incorporated a “gender lens” to address structural inequalities.

    But the National-led coalition’s first budget in May offered minimal support for gender equality, and was criticised for the impact this will have on women and minority groups.

    However welcome pay transparency legislation might be, then, it has to be seen in the wider context. My research has found pay transparency is a complicated issue, and can only work as one element in a “toolbox” of related policies and actions.

    This is because women face additional, compounding barriers to equality beyond just gender. Ethnicity and socioeconomic circumstances also overlap and intersect with one another to create a more complex picture of inequality.

    Researchers sometimes refer to this as “intersectionality”. My findings suggest pay gaps need an “intersectional lens”, as well as a gender one, when addressing how a lack of pay equity affects different groups.

    Why pay secrecy persists

    As part of my research, I spoke to policy makers, policy analysts and human resource managers who were actively engaged in working on the gender pay gap. I asked whether pay transparency was key to closing the gap.

    Overall, they thought pay transparency was a useful tool, but more complex in practice than people assume. Three main points emerged from the research:

    • pay transparency is an essential component of closing the gender pay gap

    • it is complicated by the many and varied forms of gender discrimination within societies and organisations

    • unless we make the deeper system changes required, pay transparency alone will not eliminate the pay gap.

    In short, persistent pay gaps are underpinned by strong social, economic and historical forces. There is resistance to changing or challenging the status quo, benefiting already privileged and advantaged groups.

    Pay transparency makes it harder to justify some of the biases inherent in this situation. Pay gaps exist, in part, because “pay secrecy” benefits organisations. When workers know what others are being paid, it is harder for employers to avoid addressing pay discrimination.

    But pay secrecy is also enabled by the way organisations report remuneration levels. Real differences can be hidden behind pay “bands” or ranges, and through data manipulation.

    Difficult, detailed problems like these make it likely progress on closing the gender pay gap will be slowed by the disestablishment of the Equal Pay Taskforce, and by removing the gender lens in government budgets.

    In particular, attention needs to stay focused on the systemic gender pay gaps within businesses and other organisations. While change can come from within, it is clear progress is faster with the backing of government policy and enforcement.

    The Conversation

    The authors do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and have disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

    This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.
    © 2024 TheConversation, NZCity

     Other Politics News
     18 Jul: A drop in sales forced a bike business owned by MP Darleen Tana's husband into liquidation
     18 Jul: Queen Camilla celebrates 77th birthday with historic Diamond Diadem
     18 Jul: Food for thought: how NZ’s school lunch programme can add learning and local economies to the menu
     17 Jul: Heated debate over potential changes to insulation and double glazing regulation
     17 Jul: Solomon Islands MP calls for PM to shed light on country's $30 million budget rescue package from China
     17 Jul: Gabriel Attal resigns as France's prime minister, but looms over 'caretaker government'
     17 Jul: The government wants to give local bodies more power – that should include the power to tax
     Top Stories

    Two weeks ago Noah Hotham was not even in All Blacks camp, now he's one of six potential debutants for the test against Fiji in San Diego More...

    A drop in sales forced a bike business owned by MP Darleen Tana's husband into liquidation More...

     Today's News

    Accident and Emergency:
    Chinese Consulate staff are continuing to provide support to those affected by yesterday's bus crashes near Tekapo 5:07

    Joe Biden comes down with COVID as pressure builds, while JD Vance takes the stage on day three at the Republican National Convention 4:37

    Kim Kardashian felt "a little bit desperate" when she had a major psoriasis flare-up before the Met Gala 21:58

    Golfer Ryan Fox is looking to put his inconsistencies behind him when he tees off in The Open Championship major this evening 21:57

    Ryan Reynolds' nine-year-old daughter has seen 'Deadpool and Wolverine' 21:28

    Accident and Emergency:
    A person's been critically injured in a crash in Whangamata 21:17

    Thomas Matthew Crooks looked up photos of Trump, Biden and others before attempted assassination, FBI officials tell senators 21:07

    Tenacious D have put "all future creative plans" on hold in the wake of Kyle Gass' comments about the assassination attempt on Donald Trump 20:58

    Prince William has praised Gareth Southgate as a "class act" 20:28

    Kathy Bates used to "fly home" from jobs if she was criticised 19:58

     News Search

    Power Search

    © 2024 New Zealand City Ltd