E kuhu! Speakers at Global Women’s 1 Day for Change event outline 10 actions to close the gender pay gap

There can be no excuse for a gender pay gap […] We can and will eradicate it.’

This was the rallying cry from Paula Bennett, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Women, at Global Women’s ‘1 Day for Change’ summit on 19th September. The event marked 124 years since New Zealand women won the right to vote and followed recent news that the country’s gender pay gap stands at 9.4%.

Also among the impressive line-up of speakers calling for change were Fonterra Chief Executive Officer Theo Spierings, Spark Managing Director Simon Moutter, Ministry for the Environment Chief Executive Vicky Robertson, and former Prime Minister Dame Jenny Shipley. Susan Doughty, Partner: Talent and Reward, EY, and Nicola Richardson, Executive GM, People and Culture, Genesis Energy, honed in on practical ways to tackle the issue.

Image of 1 Day for Change Summit attendees

The desire and drive for pay equity, reiterated by speakers at the summit, was unanimous. ‘In the workplace men and women are equals and accordingly deserve equal opportunity, attainment and pay,’ affirmed Simon Moutter, Spark NZ MD. Everybody understands why pay equity is important. The focus for the day? How to achieve it.


Here are 10 actions to close the gender pay gap in your organisation:

1. Get the data: facts are your friends

You need evidence to support your case. You need a baseline to measure progress. So create dashboards with key metrics for unbiased reporting. Don’t forget to appeal to hearts and minds; use the facts you find to tell you your stories.

2. Measure the pay gap horizontally and vertically

Comparing salaries by role is a start. But to really make an impact you need to look at whether females and ethnic minorities are over represented in the lower paying roles in your organisation.

3. Review gender pay equity at the same time as performance reviews

Not before, not after.

4. Look beyond the salary

When analysing your pay gap, be sure to look at the total rewards package, including bonus and benefits, and not just salary.

5. Award one-off adjustments…

Although ‘plugging the gap’ is not a long-term solution, it can be useful as a one-off exercise to fix discrepancies in pay. If there are concerns about cost, take the long-term view: you can’t afford not to close the pay gap.

6. And be curious about why there is a gap

One-off adjustments are the equivalent of patching a leaky bucket. To get on top of your pay gap you need to take a step back and look at the big picture. Hiring practices, growth and mobility, the way you work: which of these are contributing to pay inequity? Go beyond a tick box exercise and get underneath the surface.

7. Factor in unconscious bias when recruiting

Challenge your organisational unconscious bias by using blind CVs and ensuring that you have a diverse shortlist for every role. All male shortlist? Try again. Use online software to rewrite the gender bias out of your job description and advertise in different places to the past.

8. Use a merit matrix

A merit matrix factors in performance and ranking amongst colleagues. By keeping all salaries linked to performance and within a given range, your pay rises will be equitably allocated.

9. Push women through the pipeline

If you want to get women into leadership, you have to start early. If you are losing talented women, find out why and do something about it.

10. E kuhu!

No matter where your organisation is on its diversity and inclusion journey, get going now. ‘E kuhu!’ (‘get in there’) was the phrase of the day. In the words of Nicola Richardson, ‘Start somewhere, but just get started.’

Other highlights of the inaugural 1 Day for Change event included panel discussions on engaging our Maori and millennial workforces and how a focus on diversity can make an organisation fit for the future. View the photos and photos from the event here.