Last updated 17:09, January 22 2016
Public sector organisations are paying men up to 39 per cent more than women, new figures have revealed.
The State Services Commission has released statistics about the gender pay gap in the public service for the first time, showing a significant difference in the average salary paid to men and women at the same department or agency.
The Ministry of Defence and the Crown Law Office had the largest pay gap, with men at each workplace making an average of 39 per cent more than women.
The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority had the next widest gap, with a 28 per cent difference in favour of men, while the State Services Commission itself paid men 27 per cent more on average than women.
The best performer on pay equality was the Ministry of Maori Development, which paid men just one per cent more than women, while the Department of Corrections, the Department of Conservation and the Ministry for Pacific Peoples all had gender pay gaps of less than five per cent.
Only one government agency paid women more than men – the Ministry of Women, where women took home an average of 37 per cent more than men.
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Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei said the large gap at some agencies showed more work needed to be done.
“Women have been underpaid, and undervalued for too long. This is a calculated decision to pay some people less than others, and women deserve to be paid more than what they currently get.”
Turei said the Government’s joint working group on pay equity principles was “a start”, but it needed to set a target to reduce the gap and create policies to make that happen.
“There is so much evidence staring them right in the face telling them to act, [and] this latest SSC report just adds to that.”
The Public Service Association, the largest union for public service staff, said the gap sent a message to women that they were not valued for their work.
PSA national secretary Erin Polaczuk told Radio NZ efforts to narrow the pay gap had to come from the top of government agencies if they were to succeed.
Polaczuk said government agencies needed to ensure there was more transparency around pay rate and the career progression of men and women.
‘DIVERSITY TAKES TIME’
Equal Opportunities Commissioner Jackie Blue said the publication of the statistics was a welcome step towards greater transparency.
“What we measure we can manage…[and] making these figures publicly available means accountability through transparency.”
Blue said chief executives needed to take the lead in addressing the pay imbalance, while women also needed to “back themselves more” and become more skilled negotiators.
An annual breakdown of gender pay gaps in the agencies going back to 2008 shows that some organisations have made headway in reducing pay inequality.
The Treasury reduced its gap from 32 per cent to 18 per cent, while the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet dropped from a 28 per cent gap in 2008 to seven per cent in 2015.
However, the overall gender pay gap in the public service has dropped just one percentage point in seven years, from 15 per cent to 14 per cent. Adjusted for age, seniority and experience, the pay gap dropped to 5.3 per cent.
Government chief talent officer Andrew Hampton said improving diversity in the public sector was an “important focus” for the SSC, but would take time.
Hampton said the public sector currently had the highest ever proportion of female chief executives, at 40 per cent, while the proportion of women in senior leadership roles had increased from 39.6 per cent in 2011 to 44.2 per cent in 2015.
The factors contributing to the gender pay gap were “complex”, with the SSC increasing analysis of diversity in the workplace and creating more initiatives to put more women in leadership positions and make working environments more family-friendly.
THE PUBLIC SECTOR PAY GAP
- 1=. Crown Law Office, Ministry of Defence (men paid 39 per cent more than women)
- 3. Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (28 per cent)
- 4. State Services Commission (27 per cent)
- 5. Ministry of Education (26 per cent)
- 6. Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (21 per cent)
- 7=. Ministry of Culture and Heritage, Ministry for the Environment, Inland Revenue Department (20 per cent)
- 10=. Department of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Treasury (18 per cent)
- 13=. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Transport (17 per cent)
- 16. Land Information New Zealand (16 per cent)
- 17. Customs Service (13 per cent)
- 18=. Ministry for Primary Industries, Serious Fraud Office, Statistics New Zealand (11 per cent)
- 21=. Education Review Office, Government Communications Security Bureau, Ministry of Social Development (10 per cent)
- 24. Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (7 per cent)
- 25. Department of Conservation (4 per cent)
- 26. Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs (3 per cent)
- 27. Department of Corrections (2 per cent)
- 28. Te Puni Kokiri (1 per cent)
- 29. Ministry for Women (-37 per cent)
Figures: State Services Commission, 2015