New Zealand’s equal employment opportunities ‘totally pathetic’

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It was recently reported that the Human Rights Commission wants to give women and minorities extra assistance to boost equality in employment.

According to Stuff, a new report has revealed that women, Pacific people and people with disabilities are the most disadvantaged in New Zealand in terms of pay, employment and leadership opportunities.

The report stated that women occupy just 14% of positions on private boards, and 19% of overall senior management roles.  

Jackie Blue, the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner, told Stuff that the statistics were “totally pathetic”, and called upon the Government to implement a strategy to increase the number of minorities in senior leadership positions.

She added that New Zealand should follow the lead of Australia, where companies are obliged to report on their gender diversity policies.

However, she said that New Zealand was not ready for a quota system to be introduced.

“Obviously you want to bring people along with you, not make them do something they feel resentful about,” Blue said. “You need to get their hearts and minds.”

She also expressed frustration with the rate at which New Zealand’s equal employment opportunities were moving.

“Maybe it should be like the Sword of Damocles hanging over people – if you don't get your act together, we'll make you do it.”

Statistics showed that the public sector was outperforming private organisations, with 42% of board and senior management roles being held by women.

Blue called on Government departments to strive towards increasing this rate, suggesting that each Government department should annually publish plans to close gender or ethnic minority pay gaps – and said that this would reveal which organisations are falling below par.

“We know there are some really progressive departments...and others that are doing really poorly,” she said.

She suggested that “special measures” could include internal targets, more balanced recruitment boards, transparent promotion pathways and training to identify unconscious bias.

The Equal Employment Opportunities Commission’s online report analysed equality across four key aspects of work: gender, ethnicity, age and disability.

It showed that men are earning more than women, and Europeans more than any other ethnicity.

Middle-aged white men had an average hourly rate of $28.77 – two thirds more than Pacifica women of the same age, whose average hourly earnings are $17.32.
The report also found that two in three minimum wage workers aged over 25 were women. 

According to Blue, the Government should be aiming to implement equal pay for work of equal value by 2020.

“There needs to be an absolutely obsessive focus going forward to improve their work indicators,” she said. “No one can be left behind.”

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