In for the long haul: Closing the gender pay gap

Closing the gender pay gap will not be fixed by short term measures only and employers will need to accept that they are in this for the long haul, according to a recent study.  

Strategic Pay’s report Pay Equity: Analysing the gender pay gap in New Zealand says that the economic impact of the pandemic has the potential to exacerbate the gap, and if employers take their eye off the ball now, nothing will change.

The report highlights some key issues in relation to gender pay gap analysis and figures including that the overall gender pay gap only reveals some of the picture and the devil is truly in the detail.

It says that a key to the gender pay gap is occupational and vertical segregation – i.e. the type of roles in which women are employed.

“From our experience there are several broader human resources and employment practices that employers need to investigate and address if they really want to close the gender pay gap in the longer term:

• Ensuring that the pay levels for roles are related to the actual level of responsibility and skill required in the role, not what the market pays for similarly titled roles.

• Ensuring that regardless of part-time or full-time status, gender, ethnicity or age, that relevant development opportunities and reward options are available and accessible to all employees.

• Ensuring clear career pathways and development opportunities are available to all.

• Encouraging women to put themselves forward for development and promotion.

• Establishing a culture that enables flexibility no matter what your status, including employment, marital, family, sexual orientation, age, etc.

The report also includes gender pay gap and gender representation commentary across different seniority levels.


Executive Management / CEO of medium to large organisation: This level constitutes big jobs in big organisations with males making up 90 percent of this group.  The overall gap again rises to 15.5 percent, led by the not for profit sector which has a gap of 18.3 percent. This is the largest gap observed at any level.

 In contrast the public and private sectors’ gaps have decreased to be reasonably close at 4.5 percent and 6.1 percent respectively. 

Are we observing the result of the increased transparency and scrutiny at this level in the public and private sectors, the report asks.


Senior Management / CEO of small organisation: The Strategic Pay report says this level includes senior managers in medium and large organisations and CEOs of small organisations. At this level, there is little evidence of a gender pay gap in the not for profit sector but the gap increases noticeably in the private sector to 15.9 percent in fixed remuneration. 

The public sector shows a small decrease in the gap to 6.1 percent. “As observed at lower levels, this would appear to be due to benefits of greater value being received by males than females. Also at this level, as with the lower levels, males receive around 30 percent higher incentive
payments as well,” it says.


Technical Specialist to Mid-Management Group: Once again, the gap is highest in the private sector at 14.2 percent and surprisingly high for the NFP sector at 11.2 percent. In contrast, the gap is considerably lower in the public sector at 6.5 percent.

Strategic Pay’s analysis suggests that the NFP sector is paying male technical specialists and middle managers more than their female counterparts. It says there are also relatively more males at this level (nearly twice the representation there than at the general staff level), and the overall gap is therefore higher than for the overall NFP sample.


General Staff Category: At this
level, representing support and entry level technical positions, the private and public sectors show a gender pay gap, however there is no gap in the Not for Profit sector. But, on the other hand, the NFP sector has low male representation at this level with males making up only 16 percent of the NFP sample.

The Strategic Pay report says the private sector shows the widest gap at this level. “The gap can in part be explained by our data which shows that males receive more benefits, most notably vehicles and car allowances.

 “In contrast some accommodation for the preferences of females may be apparent with females at this level receiving around eight percent more in parking allowances than males.”

Strategic Pay found a 10.3 percent gap in the public sector “which is surprising given its focus on closing the gender pay gap (this includes the local government and health sectors)”. 

“At this level in the health sector there are a significant number of female-dominated caring roles, which our research indicates tend to be paid lower than roles of a similar size in other sectors.”

In local and regional government, significant differences in fixed remuneration levels may in part be explained by benefits involving car parking, car allowances and provided vehicles.   

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