Report shows New Zealand’s gender inequality in the workplace

Results from the Human Rights Commission’s Tracking Equality at Work report released today are shameful and show we need to do more to help women in the workplace, says the National Council of Women of New Zealand National President Rae Duff.

The report shows women have higher unemployment and underemployment than men; are underrepresented in leadership roles in the public and private sectors, and make up two thirds of those earning the minimum wages.

“The statistics show women remain underrepresented, underpaid and undervalued. While we have witnessed slow progress in some areas, there has been none or regression in other areas,” Rae Duff said.

“It’s not good enough that the representation of women in senior management positions in the private sector has sharply declined, from 31 per cent in 2014 to 19 per cent in 2015. Women’s representation on private sector boards also lags and sits at 14.4 per cent.

“The National Council of Women is particularly concerned about the most disadvantaged groups. Pacific and Māori women are paid less per hour than European women, and disabled women have lower incomes than disabled men. This is a shame on our country and we need to reduce these inequalities for the sake of these individuals, their families and communities and for our economy.

“It is alarming that around two thirds of minimum wage earners over 25 years are women, which reflects the critical work that needs to be done to get equal pay for work of equal value and for more women to enter a wider range of professions and attain more senior roles.

“On the positive, there does seem to be a current upswing in awareness of gender issues and more employers taking action to ensure their policies and practices around recruitment and promotion, pay and conditions support diversity in the workplace. But it’s clearly not enough and more people need to do more.

“We need decision makers to think harder and care more about gender, ethnicity and people with disabilities when they are developing programmes and policies at the central or local government level, in education and employment settings.

Rae Duff said she welcomed the Human Rights Commission report as data was essential for helping New Zealand to better understanding current inequalities and inform action. It was helpful that the Human Rights Commission had also released recommendations to address the issues the report highlighted.

“We endorse the Human Rights Commission’s recommendations around employment, pay, leadership and discrimination and urge the Government, NZX, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, the Employment Relations Authority and the Ministry for Social Development to act on them.”


The National Council of Women works toward a gender equal New Zealand. It was established in 1896, with Kate Sheppard as founding President. Today it has around 290 member organisations, 260 individual members and 21 branches around the country.


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