Affirmative action needed to address trends impacting public sector workforce

Affirmative action needed to address trends impacting public sector workforce

December 13, 2016

The Human Rights Commission has welcomed a report published by the State Services Commission saying it demonstrates the further need to encourage and support a more diverse workforce in the public sector.

The State Service Commission’s Human Resource Capability report, released today, gives an overview of the size and composition of New Zealand’s public sector workforce as well as information on remuneration, workplace health, qualification levels and diversity and inclusion.

Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Dr Jackie Blue says the report gives a very clear insight into the status of our public sector workforce.

“The State Services Commission is to be commended for their commitment to providing this data, allowing them to better identify trends that are impacting their workforce. However, now is the time for affirmative action to be taken to address those trends.

“While we are pleased to see that the overall gender pay gap has reduced from 14 percent to 13.5 percent, gender pay gaps by department give a mixed view with some departments having a worsening picture. We agree that it is still too high and the long-range forecast would indicate that it will be several decades before it is eliminated.”

The data also shows a lack of improvement in the ethnic pay gaps and highlights the need for more to be done to improve outcomes for the whole workforce.

“The focus now needs to be on how to use this data to deliver tangible change for our most marginalised -  particularly women and Maori, Pacific and Asian peoples, who are still disproportionately under-represented in senior roles compared with their composition in the general workforce.

“The 2016 average annual salary difference between a European male and Pacific female is $25,871 or a gap of 31 percent, a figure which highlights how vulnerabilities compound. Pacific and Asian ethnic pay gaps, in particular, warrant increased scrutiny in that they are increasing in contrast to the Maori pay gap which is decreasing,” Dr Blue says.

“Of additional concern is the gender pay gap for employees in 25-29 year age band, which has doubled since 2014 to 4.1%, a gap and will only widen and balloon over their career, if not kept in check.

“We have the means to track progress but now there needs to be a concerted effort to ensure that we see enduring positive improvements as a result, particularly for the target groups identified in the state sector legislation – Women, Maori, Ethnic minorities and the disabled.

“If we are to truly reduce the gap in New Zealand, both public and private organisations need to develop and actively implement policies and practices at all levels, which encourage people to upskill, and seek managerial opportunities.”

Dr Blue is keen to see disability employee data published and hopes that the Working Group looking at this will soon complete their work towards a standard for the collection of disability data.

Human Rights Commission

The Commission works for a free, fair, safe and just New Zealand, where diversity is valued and human dignity and rights are respected.