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Calls for mandatory pay gap reporting in New Zealand

12 December, 2023

Interview by Rosetta Stone, adapted by Kate Walker 

Despite Aotearoa legally requiring equal pay based on gender, women are still on average paid 8.6% less than men. CEO of Global Women, Agnes Naera, says more needs to be done to close the pay gap.

Since 1972, equal pay based on gender has been legally required in Aotearoa, for those performing the same job. 

Despite a steady decrease in the gender pay gap of 0.6% per year, kiwi women are still on average paid 8.6% less than men, according to recent Stats NZ data. For wahine Māori, this figure increases to 14.3% and 15.2% for Pasifika women. 

This means that as of 30 November, women in Aotearoa are effectively working for free until the end of the year. 

Global Women, who advocate and partner with organisations to ensure pay equity and transparency, have launched a new campaign, Eight Percent Matters, which aims to highlight the significant impact pay gap figures have on women’s livelihoods.

CEO Agnes Naera told 95bFM’s The Wire that New Zealand needs to prioritise closing the gender pay gap.

“We were the first country to get the women's vote, why wouldn't we be ambitious to be the first country to have no pay gap?”

Naera argues that society undervalues jobs that are commonly taken on by women, like aged care work. She cites that while aged care workers deal with violent, high-risk patients, they are paid much less than those working at medium to low-security prisons, a male-dominant workforce, despite requiring similar skills and expertise. 

“Work that is done by women is not valued the same way.” 

Naera says women are often economically worse off throughout their careers and when retiring because they are “penalised at different points of their career.”

“I'm at the end of my career and I do worry if I'm going to be financially okay. All of this contributes to how we're going to be economically off when we retire."

“It’s a really sad thing that happens in this country.” 

But she says the economic impacts of the gender pay gap affect everyone, not just women.

“What happens for women happens for families, communities, and this country, given that women make up more than half the population.”

Gender pay gap reporting is mandatory in several countries around the world, including Australia and the UK, but not in New Zealand.

This year, the previous Labour government suggested making private companies with more than 250 employees report on their pay equity, however, this was never legislated. 

Naera says implementing mandatory gender pay gap reporting and ethnic pay gap reporting would help address pay inequality in Aotearoa. 

“You’ve got to have the evidence, then you can hold people accountable to that.” 

Listen to the full interview 

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air