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Winning Workplaces for Women Announced

Wednesday 12 November 7.30 am

Four of New Zealand’s leading businesses and one outstanding individual have been named as the winners of the sixth annual Equal Pay Awards last night, alongside proud sponsors; Strategic Pay, Coca-Cola Amatil NZ and Sky City Entertainment Group.

Chorus alongside computer engineer, AUT Senior Lecturer and She Sharp founder, Dr Mahsa Mohaghegh have been recognised as champions of equal pay in the 2019 YWCA Equal Pay Awards.

Their achievements and those of other finalists were acknowledged in video messages at the awards by the Prime Minister, Right Hon. Jacinda Ardern, Minister for Women, Hon. Julie Anne Günter and the Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner, Saunoamaali’I Dr Karanina Sumeo.

Saunoamaali’i Karanina Sumeo said it was encouraging to see our leading businesses make conscious and bold efforts to address gender equality, equal pay and to promote diversity and inclusion.

“So many of our local businesses, both large and small, are identifying key areas that need urgent action by setting targets and measures, sharing their learnings and rethinking their employment processes to embed social responsibility in their organisations.”

“These efforts will continue to empower New Zealanders and ensure basic human rights to equality and dignity are realised in the workplace,” she adds.

The Supreme Award has been won by Chorus who also took the Leadership and the Progressive Awards. Chorus GM for People and Culture, Shaun Philp, said that the company’s success in designing and implementing flexible work and a zero pay gap strategy reflects a whole of organisation commitment. “The Chorus Board and Executive team fundamentally believe that gender pay equity is a central tenet to our broader belonging strategy, which is why we’ve taken an active approach to managing gender equal pay,” he said.

“We subscribe to the philosophy that equal pay is a social justice and an important economic issue. The focus on gender balance across Chorus (and in turn pay equity) has benefited all our employees and the workplace in a number of ways. It is hugely satisfying internally, from a leadership and People and Culture team perspective, to see the progress we are making - it's important we now take a role in the wider business community and share what we are doing to support others to also make progress,” Philp added.

The judging panel were very impressed with Chorus’ internal and external communications which includes publishing their gender pay data in their 2019 Annual Report.

Judging panellist, Kirsten Patterson, Chief Executive of the Institute of Directors, described the Chorus entry as a holistic programme which has achieved tangible results across their organisation.

“Chorus has set a well-defined strategy and is making significant and meaningful progress against the objectives in a measured and transparent way. The Board level leadership for their gender pay journey is commendable and their transparency by providing gender equal pay data in their annual report is an encouraging trend many other organisations could similarly adopt,” she said.

Y Auckland Chief Executive, Dellwyn Stuart says the awards play a critical part in closing New Zealand’s gender pay gap. “Some companies such as Chorus are making great progress in this area – they know that embracing diversity – including attracting and retaining a range of women in the workforce – is critical for successful organisations. The number of new entrants and new sectors represented in 2019 is promising and shows the impact of our past winners who have set and met gender pay targets for others to follow” she says.

The Champion Award which recognises an outstanding individual driving equal pay in an organisation was awarded to AUT Senior Lecturer and Founder of She Sharp, Dr Mahsa Mohaghegh.
Her work addressing the gender imbalance in STEM fields and raising awareness of the importance and value of diversity and equality in technology has impacted thousands. She founded She Sharp as a non-profit women’s networking group in 2014 to provide encouragement, support, and learning for women in the STEM field, and those considering joining it. She Sharp runs 8-10 networking and development events each year for high school girls, female tertiary students and professionals from within the industry.

The On the Journey Award was won by Xero who entered the awards for the first time. Judges praised their rigorous and scientific mind-set in addressing gender pay equity and noted the employee feedback channels were being effectively used to refine and improve their remuneration framework. The judging panel commented that it’s no surprise that Xero dominates the cloud accounting landscape.

Waikato based Wintec won the Innovation Award with their Wintec Industry Sharing Experience (WISE) programme which lets staff and students form valuable partnerships with employers through both industry secondments and industry teaching partnerships. Judge Rob Campbell described their entry as a very good public sector corporate initiative which reflects sound organisational strategy and passion from those delivering.

Auckland Council ‘s Kia Puawai initiative demonstrated the wider social impact of their commitment to improving employment outcomes in South Auckland and won them the Community Award. Its customer services department initiated a highly successful partnership with WINZ Manukau and the Solomon Group to bring local unemployed people into its contact centre workforce. Judges applauded the programme as a significant step change in how women in South Auckland are supported to enter (or re-enter) the workforce and improve the financial position of their families.

On 3 September 2019, Statistics NZ announced that the official gender pay gap was 9.3 percent.
This is the second-smallest gap since the series began 20 years ago. In comparison, the gender pay gap was 9.1 percent in 2012 (the lowest on record) and 9.2 percent in 2018. While the gap has closed over the past 20 years, on average women in New Zealand are still paid less for an hour’s work than men.

Notes to Editors:


The Innovation Award celebrates innovative responses to addressing the equal pay gap. The judges are company director Rob Campbell, Chief Executive of the EMA, Brett O’Riley and Callaghan Innovation Head of People and Capability, Esther Livingston.
Finalists: Frank Advice and Wintec (WINNER)

The Community Award acknowledges that profit-for-purpose or not-for-profit organisations have unique pay challenges compared to the private sector. This year two new judges assessed the award. They are experienced Governance Lead and Director of Change the Narrative, Sally Morrison and the CEO of the Fundraising Institute of New Zealand (FINZ), Michelle Berriman who joined RemNet Committee Member and Chief People Officer of Volpara Health Technologies, Kathryn Greene.

Finalists: Auckland District Health Board, MOTAT and Auckland Council (WINNER)

The On The Journey Award recognises a milestone achievement by an organisation, which has just begun to embark on its equal pay journey. The judges are General Manager – Northern Consulting, Strategic Pay, Michelle Gapes, Head of Communications and Education for Simplicity Kiwisaver, Amanda Morrall, and AUT Vice-Chancellor, Dr Andrea Vujnovich .

Finalists: AUT, Neilson, Yellow and Xero (WINNER)

The Progressive Award commends firms who have demonstrated their commitment to Equal Pay in their workplace and continue to make sustained advances and improvements to address the issue. CEO of the Institute of Directors, Kirsten (KP) Patterson and Susan Lowe, General Manager People and Culture at Coca Cola Amatil were joined by Performance and Reward Specialist, Helene Higbee to judge this award.

Finalists: Auckland Council, Kensington Swan, KPMG and Chorus (WINNER)

The Leadership Award celebrates companies who understand the benefits of workplace gender equality and are leading the way for others to follow. The judging panel is Annamarie Jamieson, People and Culture Director at Stuff, Martin King, Owner and Director at South Pacific Pride Ltd and Claire Walker, Chief People and Culture Officer at Sky City Entertainment Ltd.

Finalists: AIA, Perpetual Guardian and Chorus (WINNER)

The 2019 Champion Award recognises an outstanding individual driving equal pay in an organisation. The judges are Chief Executive of the Ministry for Women, Renee Graham, ANZLF Indigenous Business Co-Chair, Traci Houpapa and one of the country’s youngest tech entrepreneurs Ezel Kokcu of Passphere.

Finalists: Angela Meyer, Double Denim. Gillian Brookes, social entrepreneur and founder of My Kids Village. Mahsa Mohaghegh, Founder/ Director She#, Senior Lecturer at Auckland University of Technology. (WINNER)


The New Zealand gender pay gap is calculated from Stats NZ’s New Zealand Income Survey, using the difference in median hourly earnings of men and women and includes part-time and full-time workers. (The inclusion of part-time workers explains the higher gap when compared to the OECD’s gender wage gap. As one in three New Zealand women work part-time it was agreed to include part-time workers.)

The gender pay gap varies with age and work status and is smaller for people aged under 30 years. In 2019, for those aged 15–19 years the gap was 2.4 percent, for 20–24-year-olds it was 0.9 percent, and for workers aged 25–29 years the gap was 4.2 percent.

The largest gap was for people aged 50–54 years (18.4 percent). The occupation groups with the largest gaps were professionals (16.7) and technicians and trade workers (16.2 percent).


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