HR and Health & Safety
Some practical solutions to the gender pay gap

With research showing the gender pay gap has not moved in the past decade, it’s time businesses stepped up to rectify this inequality, says Diversity Works New Zealand CEO Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie.

Closing the gender gap, which sits at 12 percent, requires an integrated approach from Government and the business community, she says, and there are a few practical steps employers can take immediately which will have a positive impact.

Measure ‘the gap’
Track the data – it can be as simple as setting up a spreadsheet. Measure your overall gender pay gap annually. Also look at it within key groupings (e.g. men’s and women’s relative pay positions within a grade or between comparable roles, male and female graduate and newly qualified starting salaries, hourly rates of part-time workers versus full-time workers in comparable roles). Then analyse to identify where pay inequity lies.

Make a commitment         
Be transparent about the existing gender pay gap, what you want to achieve, by when, and who will be accountable. Be explicit about gender pay equity in your remuneration policy, and ensure the CEO or equivalent makes a statement committing to closing the gap.

Structure your remuneration review process 
Set percentage increases for remuneration reviews based on agreed measures of performance, and have a review panel to cross-check and challenge proposed increases through an equity lens before they are approved and implemented.

Correct pay inequity
If your data shows that the remuneration of women in your organisation is not in sync with their male counterparts, then make the necessary salary or wage adjustments.

Eliminate the parent penalty
Review employees’ pay when they return from parental leave if they have missed a pay review cycle and give them the increase – apart from being the right thing to do you’re retaining their expertise and saving on recruitment costs! Consider continuing to pay the employer’s KiwiSaver contribution while your employees are on parental leave – a couple of gaps in KiwiSaver contributions during a career can make a big difference to wealth at the end of a career.

Support women in your pipeline
Actively support your female employees in their career development and encourage them to apply for higher paid senior positions and technical roles.

Tackle unconscious bias
Train your HR staff and managers to understand unconscious bias and how to mitigate it, especially during the recruitment, promotion, performance evaluation and remuneration review processes.

Reward performance not presence
Insist your senior managers are role models for work-life balance. Work out how to accommodate flexible workplace practices in every role within your organisation.

Share the care
Support the men in your organisation who are sharing the care of their children or their elderly parents. Encourage male employees to take parental leave to look after their babies, sick leave when their parents are unwell, annual leave to attend school camp, and to leave on time to do day-care pick-up. As men share more of the juggle on the home front, women will share more of the higher paid jobs.

For more information on the current gender pay gap in New Zealand, employers can refer to Statistics New Zealand’s Measuring the Pay Gap publication, available online, or the Ministry for Women’s Empirical evidence of the gender pay gap in New Zealand research report released last month.

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