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Pacific women paid lowest in New Zealand’s Public Service

Pacific women paid lowest in New Zealand’s Public Service

A pay gap of 21% for Pacific women working in the public service is alarming and needs to be addressed urgently, says Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Saunoamaali’i Dr Karanina Sumeo.

Dr Sumeo was commenting on the findings in the State Services Commission’s “Our People: Public Service Workforce Data 2018” report.

“The pay gap for Pacific women is alarming at 21%. Pacific women continue to receive the lowest increases in pay. It is also disturbing that the report makes no mention of a strategy in the Public Service to address this with urgency.”

“It is simply unacceptable that the Public Service has done little to address this issue since 2008. This is ultimately about improving the quality of life and opportunities for Pacific women, many of whom are living in hardship or poverty,” says Dr Sumeo.,

The trend in the Public Service ethnic pay gaps indicate that not only are Māori, Pacific and Asian ethnicities the lowest paid but are still under-represented in the top three tiers of Public Service management.

“We need the State Services Commission to work on effective policies. As the EEO Commissioner, I would personally welcome the opportunity to discuss targeted actions to see these appalling gaps close.”

The Human Rights Commission supports the section on Rainbow communities in the report for the first time. However, there is a need for the Public Service to be truly inclusive in the collection of data and information across the entire spectrum of Aotearoa’s sex, gender, and sexuality diverse communities.

“The Public Service must provide an environment where people feel safe to bring their whole selves to the workplace,” says Dr Sumeo.

“We would also like to see more meaningful data about disabled people in the public sector workforce. We cannot know how well the public sector reflects the communities it serves if some people are not counted.”

“The Public Service must provide accessible and inclusive environments so that all employees, in particular the Rainbow community and disabled people, feel safe to be included in data and information gathering,” says Dr Sumeo.

The Human Rights Commission is encouraged by the overall decrease in the gender pay gap although by a slight margin, but this is only one of the gaps we need to address.

“We cannot be satisfied with a slight improvement in pay between men and women when the ethnic pay gap, which impacts New Zealand’s diverse community, is still on the rise. How can you solve one problem without having policies to resolve the overall issue?” says Dr Sumeo.

The Human Rights Commission is encouraged by the State Services Commission’s transparency in releasing this annual report to track inequalities within the Public Service.

“We are pleased to see great progress in the number of women in senior leadership roles, also reflected in a recent announcement that 50% of Public Service CEO’s are women.”

“For the top three tiers of decision makers in the Public Service, we would strongly welcome data on diversity and respective pay gaps, to fully enable transparency in tracking workplace inequalities,” says Dr Sumeo.

ENDS

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