'Bulk of the Pacific Pay Gap can't be explained'

Discrimination partly blamed for the unexplained pay gap

'Bulk of the Pacific Pay Gap can't be explained'

About 73% of the pay gap for Pacific males and 61% of the pay gap for Pacific females cannot be explained, according to new research from the Human Rights Commission's Pacific Pay Gap Inquiry.

The inquiry's report, Empirical analysis of Pacific, Māori, and ethnic pay gaps in New Zealand, found that only 27% of the pay gap for Pacific males and 39% for Pacific females could be explained.

Gail Pacheco, New Zealand Work Research Institute's director, said the portion that could be explained is because of observed factors, such as the types of job held by workers.

"We found that Pacific people are less likely to be a manager, and more likely to be in a labour type occupation," Pacheco said in a statement. "Additionally, Pacific men are more highly concentrated in the manufacturing industry, while Pacific women work mostly in the healthcare and social assistance sectors."

For the parts that could be unexplained, however, Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Saunoamaali'i Karanina Sumeo said they are likely due to "invisible barriers."

"This research provides further evidence about what we've long suspected – the bulk of the Pacific Pay Gap can't be explained and is at least partly due to invisible barriers like racism, unconscious bias and workplace discriminatory practices," Sumeo said in a statement.

"It's unacceptable that Pacific, Māori and ethnic minority workers continue to be penalised and undervalued in the workplace based on unfair workplace practices, unconscious bias and racial discrimination," added the commissioner. "This is a breach of basic rights to equality and dignity, and it must end with us."

Read more: New Zealand 'a decade behind' disclosing pay gap data

Sumeo then said that lawmakers and employers need to act on pay inequity in the workplace.

"Our lawmakers and employers need to be held accountable and take action on pay inequity and the unequal treatment of our workers," she said. "We must urgently implement measures to reduce ethnic pay gaps, so every worker is fairly rewarded for the work they do and is thriving in the workplace."

Jo Cribb, co-founder of MindTheGap NZ, also encouraged action on business and government levels, stressing that reporting pay gaps can help end discrimination for various groups.

"New Zealand has fallen behind other Western countries due to its lack of action in addressing the pay gap, we want urgent action both at the business level and with Government to ensure all New Zealanders are paid fairly and without bias," said Cribb in a statement.

"Requiring big employers to report pay gaps can help reduce child poverty and help end discrimination that impacts on the aspirations of Māori, of Pasifika; of other ethnic groups."


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