Gender equality takes a hit as pay gap widens

The gender pay gap widened last quarter from 12.9 percent to 13.2 percent, a seemingly small change, yet one that highlights a step away from gender equality in New Zealand’s workplaces.

The Pay Equality Coalition’s spokesperson Angela McLeod spoke of how it is “time for action from the government.”

At the turn of the millennium, the pay gap was 14 percent, and dropped year on year until 2004,  where it was just 12.7 percent, before increasing to 14 percent again by 2005. By 2012, it had dropped to just 9.1 percent, and even in 2014 the figure was at 9.9 percent. The increase of 3.3 percent goes some way in highlighting the lack of efficacy by the National Government on this issue since their latest election victory in late 2012.

McLeod considers this a trend that must be addressed through the legislature, and finds it striking that nothing significant has been done by the current administration on this issue despite the benefits that pay equality would bring to New Zealand.

She said, “This is symptomatic of the government not doing anything on the issue. It seems to me that it’s simply a lack of political will for change.”

Goldman Sachs revealed in a 2007 research paper entitled “Gender inequality, Growth and Global Ageing” that pay equality would actually boost the female employment rate significantly. The same reported outlined that it would raise U.S gross domestic product (GDP) by 9 percent, the Eurozone GDP by 13 percent and Japanese GDP by as much as 16 percent.

Nordic countries, unsurprisingly, are the global leaders in pay equality, with the top four being Iceland, Norway, Finland, and Sweden respectively. However, globally, women are only earning the equivalent of what men did in 2006, and the World Economic Forum has stated that if we carry on at the current rate, it will take until 2133, or 117 years, until women are paid equally on a global scale.

This article first appeared in Issue 19, 2016.
Posted 2:26pm Monday 15th August 2016 by Joe Higham.