New Zealand’s top equal pay employers

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If you’re looking for pay equity, Westpac is the place to go.

The bank won the gold award at the inaugural YWCA Equal Pay Awards for its efforts in the equal pay space, followed by law firm Simpson Grierson and SkyCity collecting joint silver awards and bank BNZ taking out bronze.

The New Zealand Defence Force and Downer NZ warranted special commendations for their equal pay efforts.

Judging panellist Susan Doughty, director of remuneration specialist dsd Consulting, said that the 13% pay gap favouring men in New Zealand was significant and the awards were created to recognise businesses working to change that.

“Rather than taking a punitive approach to organisations and saying, ‘You’re not doing enough, you need to do better’, it was more about saying, ‘Actually, there are some organisations that are doing this. They might be in the beginning stages of this journey, or they might be quite well down that path’. We wanted to celebrate the fact that something is being done.

“Those organisations that are doing something special, let’s take that learning and start turning that back into the business community so that others can learn. It’s one of those things that is a complex area and if you don’t know what you don’t know, you can never make changes.”

She said that Westpac stood out from the other nominees as having “ticked all the boxes in terms of all the things we would expect from a best practice organisation”.

“There was a significant commitment from the CEO and the board towards pay equity and diversity as a programme within the organisation. They’ve done significant analysis, they’ve learned from their issues, they’ve put in actions to make sure that any issues are fixed.

“Then they’ve taken it a step further by communicating that internally and starting to share some of that thought leadership externally. They stood out for us as being an organisation that was really walking the talk. We understand that they’ve actually got a positive pay gap in areas of their workforce now so they’ve done a lot of good work.”

Doughty said that commitment by leadership to pay equity was also evident at Simpson Grierson and SkyCity.

“I’ve got to say that’s a significant factor in any of these organisations getting anywhere with this [issue].”

She said SkyCity was starting to invest in technology that helped them identify issues around how they were making salary decisions and was making sure that its managers were well trained and aware of things like unconscious bias.

Simpson Grierson had done a lot of work around diversity and inclusion and had addressed pay gaps proactively, said Doughty.  

BNZ also had a strong focus on diversity and was starting to look more closely at pay equity.

“All of these organisations are examples where they’re not actually compelled to make any of these changes, they’re doing it off their own bat because they see it as good business sense.”

The Defence Force and Downer NZ were both male-dominated industries and “it takes a brave organisation to tackle this issue in these kinds of industries”, said Doughty.

“They’ve been commended on taking a proactive stance and starting to make some big changes, particularly the Defence Force.”

Doughty said there were a lot of good intentions in organisations when it came to pay equity.

“They are now truly understanding the importance of diversity in its many guises and how it touches throughout the organisation. These companies understand that it’s good for business, it’s good for the bottom line, it’s a good balance of risk. It attracts, engages and retains the best talent so what’s not to love?”

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