Tracking Equality at Work

Tracking Equality at Work Report (2011)

The world of work has changed dramatically in our lifetimes. Globalisation, economic recession, technological advances, security of tenure, the rise of knowledge work and the decline of manufacturing, the growth of casualised and precarious work, the demographics of work and changes in gender roles are just some of the factors impacting on modern workplaces. What remains unchanged though, is that both employers and employees overwhelmingly say they want fairness at work.

New approaches to equality are emerging world-wide. The focus is moving from equal opportunities to equality of outcomes. It will no longer be sufficient to tick a box to say that equal opportunities programmes are in place and that workplaces prevent discrimination. In many jurisdictions now, workplaces are being asked to demonstrate that the workplace is equal and legislation is being introduced that is outcomes-focussed. Tracking Equality at Work is intended to provide new methods to track and advance equal employment opportunities in New Zealand.

What's new

  • The first set of Equality at Work Indicators developed in New Zealand to track progress towards equality at work
  • A detailed overview of labour market participation
  • A focus on the youth employment crisis, arguably the most significant economic and social issue faced by New Zealand society
  • A new look at the gender pay gap and a new Pay Equality Bill designed to reinvigorate political and public discussion about this systemic inequality, and
  • A set of recommendations for the Human Rights Commission and for the Government to push on with strengthening equality at work.


The Commission believes that to push on with equality in workplaces and to assist employers and employees, the following needs to happen. These recommendations represent the top areas for action that will advance equal employment opportunities in New Zealand.

For the Commission

  1. Monitor and report on the new equality indicators to track progress in achieving equality at work in New Zealand.Recommendation
  2. Promote the Pay Equality Bill with Government, other political parties, trade unions, employers and the broader public, and prompt political and public discussion about realising the right to gender equality in pay.
  3. Promote the new equality framework with New Zealand businesses and employers to reinforce the case for greater equality, diversity and equal treatment at work.
  4. Advocate for the promotion and protection of equality at work with trade unions and community/stakeholder groups.
  5. Continue efforts to eliminate discrimination and barriers to employment for disadvantaged groups through increased monitoring, further development of guidelines and tools, and advocacy to prevent complaints.

For the Government

  1. Develop a national youth-to-work strategy that includes a plan for every young New Zealander that has cross-party support and sufficient long-term funding security. The strategy must be responsive to the needs of Māori, Pacific and disabled youth.
  2. Renew efforts to ensure that public sector departments exhibit exemplary EEO practice and are properly monitored. Urgently review the role the State Services Commission plays in providing ‘good employer’ advice to Chief Executives and monitoring EEO in the public sector.
  3. Amend the Employment Relations Act 2000 to include a positive duty to be a ‘good employer’ to the private sector, in addition to the statutory obligation in the public sector.
  4. Ratify the outstanding two core ILO standards 87 – Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise and 138 – Minimum Age; and support the development of new ILO standards including for domestic workers.
  5. Improve labour market information at the regional and sub-regional level and the provision of labour market information for disabled people.


In New Zealand’s largest-ever study of work, the National Conversation about Work, over 3000 employers, employees and job-seekers broadly said they enjoyed their work, cared about the people they worked with, were proud of the services and products they delivered and loved the challenges of working life. For many, work defined them and was a critical aspect of self identity and self esteem, not just a pay cheque.

The vast majority of employers were responsive to employee needs and many treated staff as extended family rather than as units of labour. Universally, there was a strong commitment both in practice and in spirit to the idea of a “fair go” at work and to equality. Tracking Equality at Work picks up where the National Conversation about Work left off.

The report

Tracking Equality at Work: 2012 (PDF)