Angela Meyer, Gender Equity Lead at Mercer, Co-founder of Gender Justice Collective and Project Gender
Angela Meyer’s outstanding career spans diverse arenas, all with a common clarion call of the importance of gender equality. She is the Gender Equity Lead at Mercer and co-founded Gender Justice Collective and Project Gender. From 2016 – 2020 she was the co- founder and the director of Double Denim.
I asked Ange who were the influencers that led her to her roles today.
“I was born in Palmerston North into a fantastic family, the eldest of four daughters. We were all very close to my amazing father and incredible mother. Social justice was a big component of my growing up as we were part of a multicultural community that spanned refugees to university students. My father was a champion of the underdog and instilled it into all his children. Mum was a feminist and an activist in her own way. She protested against the Springbok tour of 1981, and the Rainbow Warrior. I didn’t know feminist was a dirty word! Growing up in a small town, then going on to study theatre, fashioned my desire to help change narratives and think about other ways of being.”
You have achieved prominent status in the global gender-equality space for many years. What does Gender-Smart mean to you?
“I think of it as Gender Intelligence.
International studies show that women count for 80% of all purchasing decisions. We are responsible for $28 trillion out of a $33 trillion economy. We are the market! But, unlike other comparable countries, New Zealand doesn’t measure the economic value of women. This is despite the incredible work of Global Woman member, Dame Marilyn Waring – Counting for Nothing – which isolates the gender bias that exists in the current system of calculating national wealth.
At Double Denim, we wanted to encourage businesses to do better by women. We commissioned research to analyse the economic and emotional lives of women in New Zealand. We discovered that 87% of NZ women said that they feel unsafe. That is a crisis! “
After Double Denim closed, I turned my sights toward applying an intersectional feminist lens on policy, so in the lead up to the 2020 general election, so I co-founded the Gender Justice Collective (GJC) a group of individuals, businesses and organisations all committed to gender equity.
We undertook a nationwide survey asking women, wahine, trans, intersex and non-binary people what they needed and wanted from their elected representatives and worked with Professor Jennifer Curtin from the Public Policy Institute to create a scorecard to see how committed politicians were to gender equity. It was a world first.
The Greens came out on top. Our survey results also showed that health was a key area of concern. The GJC led the successful advocacy for the formation of a National Women’s Health Strategy. All the work, including two parliamentary submissions – was pro bono! So much work in the gender equity space – advocating, volunteering and more – is off the backs of unpaid women’s labour. And we don’t talk about it.
In 2021, I developed ‘Trade Careers’ – a project to get more women into the trades and, ‘The Table – where Kiwi women talk money’ and co-founded Project Gender with Tania Domett and Erin Jackson. I’m currently working part time as the first Gender Equity Consultant in the financial sector at Mercer NZ.”
Across the spectrum of corporate, arts, government, and more, where is equality lacking the most, and how does that deficiency manifest?
“Gosh, that is a big question! I see it manifesting across all sectors. Often it is an unwillingness to measure pay gaps or put women’s voices at the heart of decision making on things that effect them all the way through to sexual harassment and abuse. All of these demonstrate that women’s concerns, aspirations and potential are important.
At Project Gender we work on social change and creating positive impact through insights research, breakthrough campaigns and real-world innovations. Our kaupapa is to centre the voices of those we are looking to support. One of the initiatives we have worked on is Mako Mama Mangopare – Single Parents Project. In it we dive deep into what single parents need to thrive in New Zealand. We hope to release this report very soon.
We have also released a New Zealand online Sex and Dating Survey (interestingly the over 50s are dating dangerously!) worked with TNVZ to apply a gender lens to programming and have launched a new Gender in Focus Snapshot series. Our innovation arm is currently developing a range of products and services using our insights. Women provide a huge opportunity for brands, businesses, and our country.”
What more could we be doing in Aotearoa New Zealand to move the dial on equality?
“Frankly, as New Zealanders, we have been resting on our laurels; we gave women the vote in 1893, but we are lacking in progress. Australia is kicking our asses! The country has provided a survey and consultation for a national gender equality strategy. Imagine that!
New Zealand needs to make a commitment to prioritise gender equity – with a timeline! No more hand-wringing. New Zealand women are in an economic and healthcare crisis, and we need to get on and sort it out!”
Are males sufficiently engaged in the process? If not, what are some solutions.
“In the recently released Mercer Global Talent Trends report, one of the top areas of concern for employers is talent retention and attraction. One solution to this war on talent is having strong equitable paid parental leave policies. We have to move it away from being just a woman thing; a lot of young men want paid parental leave. Our national scheme is only used by less than 1% of men. Why would they take it up when they see women’s results through the same system? After all, men of quality don’t fear equality.”
Māori and Pasifika wāhine are severely impacted by the pay gap (and in other arenas.) Is there sufficient progress being made to rectify this?
“These inequities go back to colonisation, systemic discrimination, racism – while I tautoko the work that is being done by many in our communities, we need to go faster and to ensure that this mahi is well resourced. NO more consultation for no pay! It has to be a partnership and the solutions must be led and developed by Māori and Pasifika wāhine.
I believe when we create systems that are going to benefit the most vulnerable, we all benefit.”
Could Global Women play a larger role in gender equality? If so, how?
“If we put the needs and wants of New Zealand women at the heart of our work, and we as a collective wrap our support around what they want and advocate for change at the government level, board level, or in our businesses. I think that would be incredible.
Systems need to change. Change the way our businesses are run, our communities operate. We can’t expect women individually to make these big changes.”
Do you have a book recommendation(s) on the current global situation of equality that we could share with GW members?
“The Right to Sex, by Amia Srinivasan, is a series of essays about the politics and ethics of sex in this world animated by the hope of a different world. It’s incredible; it’s sharp, urgent and thrilling!”
And closing thoughts?
“From all our research we know women want joy and connection and fun, and we should hold onto this and embrace it. Make sure as Global Women that we are having fun together, and in our communities; that we find as much joy and connection as possible. Every day is International Women’s Day for me!”