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Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Welcomes More Conversation Around Ethnicity Pay Gap

It’s Not Enough To Talk About The Gender Pay Gap Alone, We Must Include Ethnicity In All Pay Transparency Conversations, Says Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner.

The government has announced it will not be introducing Labour’s plan for companies with more than 250 employees to provide mandatory gender pay gap reporting. Instead, it has developed a new tool for businesses to use on a voluntary basis. 

While it is disappointing that the mandatory reporting is not happening, the tool is a good start, says Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Saunoamaali’i Karanina Sumeo. “The pay gap is an issue that was identified in Aotearoa

New Zealand’s recent Universal Periodic Review where other countries reviewed our human rights record.”

“However, it’s not enough to talk about the gender pay gap alone. We must include ethnicity in all pay transparency conversations.”

Te Kāhui Tika Tangata Human Rights Commission has campaigned on pay transparency for almost five years, with the Commission’s Pacific Pay Gap Inquiry revealing the extent of gender and ethnic pay gaps. It found that forevery $1 a Pākehā man earns, a Pākehā woman earns 89c, an Asian man and a Māori man get 86c, an Asian woman receives 83c, a Pacific man and a Māori woman both earn 81c and a Pacific woman gets 75c. The inquiry found that without intervention the Pacific pay gap will take 110 years to close.

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For a Pacific woman, that amounts to $488,310 over a working life. The Commission also recognises that upholding te Tiriti o Waitangi and addressing the legacy of colonisation in Aotearoa New Zealand, including structural racism, will benefit all ethnic communities along with Tangata Whenua.

“These differences have huge impact on poverty, on feeding children, on living a life with dignity. Not just for individuals but for whole communities.”

The previous government had made assurances that following mandated reporting on the gender pay gap, they would consider the implementation of reporting on the ethnicity pay gap. “As pointed out by one of the participants in our inquiry: The thing about making equity voluntary is that no one wants to know, and no one looks…” says Sumeo.

“If mandated reporting is off the table for now, we are calling on government and businesses to be courageous and continue that important conversation. We have to think about more than gender, or we are leaving people behind. For Māori and Pacific people there is a transference of generational inequity. Many vulnerable ethnic and migrant groups receive a significantly lower median wage than non-migrants. We also need that conversation to include disabled people who experience high rates of unemployment and poverty.” 

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