Tracking Equality at Work research released

Tracking Equality at Work research released

June 28, 2015

It is a human right to be treated fairly at every point of the employment process whether it is getting a job, fair pay, or promotion pathways. Like schools, homes and the community, workplaces are environments in which human rights must live.

The Commission's new Tracking Equality at Work research presents data on four key aspects of work: Employment; Pay; Leadership and Discrimination. The web-based interactive tool allows analysis of equality on any one of these issues by sex, ethnicity, age and disability, over time.  

It is also makes it possible to track the outcomes of a particular group across multiple indicators.  The data demonstrates that inequality at work exists on every indicator and that the pattern of who is most vulnerable is remarkably consistent. Some groups such as women, Māori, Pacific people, people with disabilities and young people get much less of a fair go at work on every measure. 


  • The employment indicators are: unemployment; underemployment, NEET (not in education, employment or training) and labour force participation. 
  • Women have higher rates of unemployment, underemployment and NEET (not in education, employment and training) and lower rates of labour force participation than men. 
  • Young people (under 25) have higher rates of unemployment, underemployment and lower rates of labour force participation. 
  • Young Māori and Pacific women are particularly vulnerable, as are disabled people. 
  • People with disabilities have higher rates of unemployment and lower rates of labour force participation. Women with disabilities are more vulnerable than their male cohort.

Pay gaps

Pay gap indicators are: median hourly pay in the labour force; full time equivalent median annual pay in the public service; annual income of disabled and non-disabled people; characteristics of people in receipt of the minimum wage; and minimum wage exemptions.

  • Pay differences continue between men and women, between ethnic groups and between people with and without disabilities in both the broader labour market and the public service. 
  • A feature of more detailed analysis of pay differences demonstrates the accumulation of vulnerability for some groups compared to others. 
  • Gender and ethnic pay gaps for example compound so that Pacific and Māori women are paid less per hour than European women. 
  • Disabled women have lower incomes than disabled men. 
  • The majority of people on the minimum wage are young people and are more likely to be women. 
  • Pacific people are over-represented in minimum wage jobs relative to their population. 


Leadership indicators are: senior management in the private sector; senior management in the public service; public sector boards; private sector boards. 

  • Equality has not been achieved in any of the indicators of leadership at work.
  • For women, representation at the top table is either progressing at a snail’s pace (in the case of women in the top three tiers of the public service or on boards listed on the stock exchange) or stalled (in the case of public sector boards) or slid backwards (in the case of women in senior management in the private sector). 
  • Information on the representation of people from different ethnic backgrounds in senior management is only available for the public service. That too, indicates under-representation and very slow progress.

Discrimination and harassment 

Indicators for discrimination and harassment are based on complaints made to the Human Rights Commission in the area of employment and pre-employment. Sexual harassment data is also reported. 

  • At the pre-employment stage, disability is the most common ground of discrimination complaint.
  • In work, complaints are most likely to be on one of the race grounds. 

Data about who is most likely to complain is incomplete but it is known that women make more complaints to the Human Rights Commission than men.  

Learn more about the discrimination and harassment indicators here.


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We've just launched an interactive tool revealing the full extent of inequality in the workplace.You can learn more...

Posted by New Zealand Human Rights Commission on Saturday, 27 June 2015

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.

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