Time to address NZ’s ethnic pay gap

28 Aug, 2023
Time to address NZ’s ethnic pay gap
Management Professor Katherine Ravenswood

In July, more than 30,000 Te Whatu Ora nurses reached an historic settlement on pay equity with the New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) and the Public Service Association (PSA).

Following this settlement, the government announced legislation requiring large employers to publicly report their gender pay gaps. The focus now, says Management Professor Katherine Ravenswood, must now be on ethnic pay gaps.

Katherine was recently interviewed in Human Resources Director magazine, where she outlined her concerns. While the pay gap in New Zealand, is around 8%, the gender pay gap has stagnated at around 10% for over a decade. When ethnicity is factored in, the pay gap becomes even wider.

"I think that’s our biggest mistake – that we’re not addressing the ethnic pay gap. Currently the Equal Pay Act is only sex-based...and that's one of the key things holding us back in being amongst the really top countries [in terms of pay equity].”

While Katherine believes the move towards compulsory pay reporting will “normalise an understanding that there is discrimination on the basis of gender”, she hopes that awareness will extend to ethnicity as well.

Ultimately, she says solving these issues at a systemic level is good for everyone.

Katherine says individual employers can make the change now to address and report on gender and ethnic pay gaps. This will be beneficial in healthcare or any occupation or industry that has global workforce shortages, because it will give an organisation the edge when it comes to attracting workers, clearly signalling, ‘We value all our employees’.

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