Government urged to include ethnicity in pay gap measures

It's 'not enough' to talk about gender pay gap alone, says commissioner

Government urged to include ethnicity in pay gap measures

Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Saunoamaali'i Karanina Sumeo is urging the New Zealand government to include ethnicity when addressing the country's pay gap.

Sumeo's call comes after the government announced that it is developing a new voluntary calculation tool to reduce the country's gender pay gap.

The commissioner lauded the tool as a good start but noted that it's "not enough to talk about the gender pay gap alone."

"We must include ethnicity in all pay transparency conversations," Sumeo said in a statement.

The previous New Zealand government made a commitment last year to consider the implementation of reporting an ethnicity pay gap after it attempted to make around 900 entities to publicly report their gender pay gap.

But this plan was scrapped as the new government plans to introduce the new calculation tool.

"If mandated reporting is off the table for now, we are calling on government and businesses to be courageous and continue that important conversation," Sumeo said. "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."

Ethnicity pay gap

The Te Kāhui Tika Tangata Human Rights Commission previously released a Pacific Pay Gap Inquiry that unveiled the extent of ethnic pay gaps in New Zealand.

It revealed that for $1 earned by a Pākehā man:

  • a Pākehā woman earns 89c
  • an Asian man earns 86c
  • an Asian woman earns 83c
  • a Māori man earns 86c
  • a Māori woman earns 81c
  • a Pacific man earns 81c
  • a Pacific woman earns 75c

According to the inquiry, it would take 110 years to close this gap without intervention.

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

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