Good afternoon, and thank you for coming along today. I’d like to acknowledge Chris Till and the Human Resources Institute for hosting me.
This is my first major speech as Minister for Women and that seems quite appropriate given that tomorrow is International Women’s Day.
In just about every speech I have given since taking over my new portfolios I get someone from the audience ask me if there is a Ministry for Men. My answer is simple. When we have closed the gender pay gap and women aren’t predominantly the victims of domestic and sexual violence I will look to close down the Ministry for Women.
Today we are going to dig deeper into the gender pay gap – unfortunately there is still a lot of work to be done. I’d like to acknowledge Margaret Retter, the Acting Chief Executive at the Ministry for Women, Professor Gail Pacheco whose research about the Gender Pay Gap I’ll be discussing today.
I asked to be the Minister for Women, it is a privilege to be an advocate for women and I think there’s much we can achieve. And I think that alongside being the Minister for State Services I can actually get a lot done around pay equity and pay equality in the Public Sector. As Minister for Police I work as part of the team working towards reducing domestic violence victims – but that’s another speech for another day.
I want to talk to you today about the Gender Pay Gap. Closing the Gap is one of my top priorities as Minister. I reluctantly accept that it won’t change overnight. But it is simply unacceptable that women who are as productive and contribute so significantly to business and the economy are paid less than men. There are some historical reasons for pay equity where women’s work was simply valued less than men’s contribution to the workforce. I want to thank the unions and business for working with government to design a set of principles that mean we can work our way through some of the claims. As I announced last week we are working with unions to apply the principles in some cases already, and the negotiations on Terranova are ongoing and as such something I can’t talk about.
So let’s talk gender pay. For the past decade the Gender Pay Gap has stayed about the same at around 12 per cent. That’s women earning 12 per cent less than men.
So why is it that for an entire decade we haven’t been able to close the gap?
The Auckland University of Technology, on behalf of the Ministry for Women carried out some research which is being released today. I have to say – the findings of this study are actually really disappointing.
The last time research was done – back in 2003 - it identified a range of factors that contributed to 40 to 80 per cent of the Gender Pay Gap. They’re the traditional factors that we all know about. They include the differences in occupation and industry of employment, differences in the amount of work experience between women and men, and women’s qualifications relative to men. But what this report, in 2017 has found is that those are no longer the biggest factors in why women are paid less than men. In fact – those traditional reasons play a very small role, around 20 per cent can be explained for these reasons. As Professor Pacheco will tell you, between 64 to 83 per cent now can’t be explained.
Over the past decade women have gone away and addressed some of these factors. We’ve become more educated. Fewer girls than boys leave school without any qualification. 50.7 per cent of school leavers with NCEA level 2 or above are girls. Sixty per cent of people who gain tertiary certificates and diplomas are women. Sixty per cent of people who gain bachelors and above are women.
Not only have we risen to the challenge of becoming more educated, women are being encouraged into areas like science, technology, engineering and maths which have traditionally been male dominated, we’re participating more in the labour market, we have the fourth highest participation rate in the OECD. We’ve starting moving more in male dominated occupations.
But despite all of that, up to 84 per cent of the reason for the Pay Gap, that’s right, 84 per cent, is described as ‘unexplained factors.’ That means its bias against women, both conscious and unconscious. It’s about the attitudes and assumptions of women in the workplace, it’s about employing people who we think will fit in – and when you have a workforce of men, particularly in senior roles then it seems likely you’re going to stick with the status quo – whether they do that intentionally or just because “like attracts like”. It’s because there is still a belief that women will accept less pay than men – they don’t know their worth and aren’t as good at negotiating.
You are a very important audience. You are a powerful group of people, you do the hiring. You are involved in setting pay rates. As Chris Till said in his introduction, 80 per cent of your membership are women.
I’m here today to tell you that it’s no longer acceptable to keep ignoring this issue.
I’m not here to tell you off, or put the blame on you. We need to look for solutions. We need to consciously work together to put this right.
It will take a concerted effort to reduce the gender pay gap. Our former Finance Minister, now Prime Minister, Bill English is a good example of someone striving to do better for women. When he was Minister of Finance he had to approve board appointments. He’d receive lists that were mostly, if not entirely men. So instead of taking the attitude “that must be all there was out there” and the word of Treasury that these were the only qualified candidates, he’d send the list back to Treasury and wouldn’t consider making appointments until he had women to choose from. And sure enough – once Treasury was challenged they always found good women candidates. He would still always choose the best person for the job – he just insisted on having the best to choose from. Forty eight per cent of his board appointments as Finance Minister were women.
That’s the sort of attitude we should all be taking. When you go to hire someone – do you put forward a list to your employer that has gender balance? Do you question why women aren’t putting themselves forward for roles that they’re clearly capable of doing? Do you encourage women to have a shot at it? And do you encourage your employer by putting women forward to them. Do you actively seek women out when they’re not coming forward themselves?
As I’ve said, this is about finding solutions. We know that women are less likely to go for a promotion than men, we know that women will look at a job description and will only apply if they meet a hundred per cent of the requirements, men will apply knowing they have skills for 60 per cent of the role. That’s frustrating for me and not good for your business as you may have a potential applicant who can do 80 per cent of the role but you are going to choose from the bloke who can do 60 per cent.
Yes, as women we can do more to help ourselves, of course we can – everyone can, men and women, CEOs, HR managers, teachers, parents and current employees.
When I worked in recruitment I used to challenge women to put themselves forward, to step up. The question I always used to get women to ask themselves when considering a role was ‘why not me?’ When they look at the other male candidate who’s not as qualified but willing to go for it anyway – do they think he will do a better job than them? Does he deserve the promotion, the pay increase?
I’ve been the woman fighting for a promotion – you may have heard I did it quite recently – going for the deputy PM role. In my teens and through my 20’s I was plagued by self-doubt and low confidence. Not anymore. I knew I was the right person for the job. I also knew some would question me about being the Minister for Women. I would be “too something” for just about everyone. Too stroppy, too weak, too old, too young, too feminist, not feminist enough. That one is interesting. Feminism means different things to different people these days. I am very comfortable being a feminist. I don’t judge others who sit in different places on the spectrum – they of course get to judge me, but that is called politics.
I’m now a mentor to some in parliament, and some that want to get into parliament. I believe women should support each other and mentor each other along the way. It might surprise you to know this, but even as Deputy Prime Minister I still sought out a mentor, outside of politics, to provide me with support and advice. Asking for guidance and leaning on others occasionally is not a sign of weakness but in my view a sign of strength.
Women need to be supported by employers when they try to do this. Research shows that women are no longer afraid to negotiate but it isn’t as well received by their bosses as when men do. They might get a small pay rise but they won’t move as high up their pay band as when men negotiate. Attitudes need to change. Judge her on what she contributes to the business or organisation, not on her gender. I can hear the gasp from some indignant employers. They will staunchly declare that they are not biased and that they actively promote women. They may of course be absolutely right, I tell them they should do a gender pay gap audit within the business and publish the results if they are that confident. The public service recently did this by department. It means we are open and can continue to make positive gains for women.
So let’s take a look at some of the positive examples from employers about what they are doing to change their behaviour and encourage women because there is some really great work being done in both the private and public sectors.
I am really enjoying being the Minister for Police. They’ve set a target of 50 per cent of police recruits being women. They’ve launched a TV show called “Women in Blue” to highlight police as a career for women. They carry out unconscious bias training and a Women’s Advisory Network Steering Group advises the Police Commissioner and Police executive on the best ways to improve the recruitment, retention and progress of women.
Treasury has recognised that it can only deliver a high living standard for New Zealanders by listening to the viewpoints of all Kiwis. So it’s running a gender and ethnic diversity programme. It checks for gender equity during all performance and pay discussions. It runs training for unconscious bias for all staff. And it has blind recruitment in the graduate and internship programme.
Within Government we’re doing things like making Careers New Zealand part of the Tertiary Education Commission. There will be more and better advice to all young people about their career prospects. We’ll make sure girls and women know exactly what they can achieve and encourage them towards careers they might not have thought possible.
In the private sector I’m told that companies like Fletchers, OPUS, Beca, Xero, Vodafone and Dimension Data are all actively encouraging women in their workforce through recruitment and retention policies, flexible hours, apprenticeships and marketing their industry to women. It’s fantastic to hear those stories.
Last month we saw Kate McKenzie become the Chief Executive of Chorus. She’s the only women CE at a company listed on the NZX 50. The only one. Come on New Zealand business – we can do better than that, we need more women CEs.
So what can we do? There are some practical solutions. The first step is recognising where there’s a problem. Organisations don’t set out to create a pay gap. A gender pay audit might be a good way to find if there is a problem. Look at your recruitment processes. Look at whether women are being promoted into positions they deserve, are you shoulder tapping people when they’re worthy of promotion? Often women are being recruited but not retained or progressed to senior management.
I’m here today to set down a challenge. If we’re going to change this. If in another decade we actually want the 12 per cent gap to have reduced – then it starts with all of us, including you and your attitudes. Let’s look at ways of how we can improve the gap.
Our challenge is to hire a person based on merit, to give women as many opportunities as men and to pay them what they are worth.
It’s 2017. So employers it’s time to remember three things.
It’s not about what you can get away with.
It’s not about what she is willing to accept.
It’s simply about paying her what she is worth.
Thank you for hosting me today and now invite you to ask some questions.
Women’s Minister Paula Bennett has today expressed disappointment at the findings of new research which shows bias and perceptions about women in the workplace are what’s driving the Gender Pay Gap.
“The Gender Pay Gap has remained static for a decade now at around 12 per cent. This new research shows that the traditional reasons for women lagging behind, including the types of work they carry out, family responsibilities, education and age are not the main reasons,” Mrs Bennett says.
The research, undertaken by Auckland University of Technology for the Ministry for Women, shows that traditional factors only account for about 20 per cent of the gap. The rest is “unexplained”, which is likely to be perception about behaviour, attitudes, and assumptions about women in work, including bias- both conscious and unconscious.
Over the past decade women have become more educated. Fewer girls than boys leave school without a qualification, they achieve higher in NCEA and 60 per cent of tertiary graduates are women. New Zealand is consistently one of the highest in the OECD for women’s participation in paid work, and more women are working in fields which have previously been dominated by men.
“I engage with businesses all the time and I know employers don’t set out to create a pay gap. They want to treat staff fairly. It would be great to see employers to look at doing a gender pay audit. I’d also encourage them to look at whether women are being promoted into positions they deserve, implementing solutions including rigorous recruitment processes, and clear career progression criteria.
“The Government is leading work to reduce the gender pay gap in the public sector. In November the Government agreed to accept the recommendations of the Joint Working Group on Pay Equity, Government also publishes Gender Pay Gap data by department. Through our actions we aim to encourage employers to address the issue in the private sector,” says Mrs Bennett.
“Those doing the hiring and carrying out pay negotiations should know that it’s not about what you can get away with. It’s not about how much she’s willing to accept. It’s about what she’s really worth.”
The full gender pay gap research is available on the Ministry for Women’s website at http://www.women.govt.nz.
Tourism Minister Paula Bennett today announced $2.49 million in Tourism Growth Partnership funding for new tourist attractions in Rotorua and Southland.
“These initiatives will provide real benefit to their regions, creating new tourism offerings and more local jobs,” Mrs Bennett says.
“Tourism is now our biggest export earner, delivering $14.5 billion and an estimated 188,000 jobs to communities around New Zealand. The industry has experienced strong growth over the past few years and we will continue to help the sector attract high value visitors to explore our regions year round.
“Funding for new projects is complemented by the Government’s $12 million tourism infrastructure fund, providing support to districts that have a limited ability to respond to visitor growth. We expect a new infrastructure funding round to open soon.”
The successful projects are:$810,000 to Skyfly Limited for a zip-line canopy tour through native forest in Rotorua $630,325 to Rainbow Springs Kiwi Encounter for a new state-of-the-art kiwi facility in Rotorua $550,000 to for stage 2 development of Classic Motorcycle Mecca in Invercargill, including a new exhibition space and experiential components $500,000 toward the Curio Bay Tumu Toka Natural Heritage Centre and Experience in the Catlins in Southland.
A total of $23.54 million has been invested in 33 projects since the inception of the Tourism Growth Partnership in 2013.
State Services Minister Paula Bennett has welcomed an agreement with unions which will see the Government’s new pay equity principles applied for the first time.
In November the Government announced it had accepted the recommendations of the Joint Working Group on Pay Equity. The Principles were developed by the Joint Working Group on Pay Equity to make it easier for women to file pay equity claims with their employers, and assist employers in addressing those claims, rather than having to go through the courts.
These legal changes are not yet in effect but the State Services Commission, on behalf of the government, and the Council of Trade Unions on behalf of unions, have agreed to apply the principles to current pay equity claims.
The first claims that will be progressed are:the PSA’s claim for social workers employed by the Ministry of Social Development (and from 1 April 2017, the Ministry for Vulnerable Children Oranga Tamariki); and the NZEI claim for education, behaviour and communication support workers employed by the Ministry of Education.
“It’s great to see the principles being used in this way and I would like to thank the unions for the pragmatic and collaborative approach they are taking to progressing these claims,” Mrs Bennett says.
The Government will amend the Equal Pay Act and the Employment Relations Act to implement recommendations and a Bill is expected to be introduced this year.
“There will no doubt be things we learn as we apply the new principles in a real life negotiation process. This experience will help to refine and improve the changes to legislation that will be required to formally give effect to the principles.
“Pay equity is a priority for this Government. Occupations that are mostly made up of a female workforce shouldn’t be lower paid just because this work is and has been mainly undertaken by women,” Mrs Bennett says.
An $870,000 support package will promote tourism in Kaikoura and other upper South Island districts impacted by last November’s earthquakes.
The funding will help bring in more international visitors for the 2017/18 peak season following a challenging summer, Tourism Minister Paula Bennett says.
“We remain 100 per cent committed to the people of Kaikoura and the top of the South Island following last year’s devastating earthquakes,” says Mrs Bennett.
“Kaikoura District saw a fall in visitor spending after the earthquake, and though it recovered somewhat in December 2016, it was still only at half normal levels and has remained relatively flat since then.
“Funding of $650,000 will go to Kaikoura to enable a strong and early marketing push for the 2017/18 peak season. It will also support work to attract more domestic visitors now, with the majority of the region’s tourism, retail and hospitality establishments open for business.
“Marlborough’s tourism industry is also expected to take a hit during the autumn and winter months, with State Highway 1 remaining partly closed south of the region. Funding of $150,000 will be used to encourage domestic visitors to continue to visit the region.
“A further $70,000 will be made available to promote common Top of the South touring routes to the international travel trade, as these have changed following the earthquake.”
The funding sits alongside a $350,000 tourism relief package for Hanmer Springs and the Hurunui District announced in late 2016.
Tourism spending over the summer high season continued to grow in most regions, providing jobs for regional New Zealand, Tourism Minister Paula Bennett says.
According to the latest Monthly Regional Tourism Estimates released by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), the fastest growing region in the year to January 2017 was Nelson, which increased 14 per cent to $344 million, followed by the West Coast up 13 per cent to $495 million, and Otago up 11 per cent to $3.5 billion.
In the month of January 2017, the fastest growing regions were Tasman, up 19 per cent to $62 million, and Northland (up 14 per cent to $152 million) and West Coast (up 14 per cent to $71 million).
“Domestic and international tourism creates immense value for New Zealand, with tourism employing over 180,000 people in 2016,” says Mrs Bennett.
“Tourism operators, employees and New Zealanders should be congratulated for capitalising on the opportunities tourism provides. Last week the International Visitor Survey showed spending reached $10.1 billion in the year to December 2016, confirming that the tourism sector is hugely important to our economy.
“Government will play our part in supporting the sector and managing the challenges that come with a booming industry. If you look at our fastest growing regions, we’ve funded the Grey District Council $500,000 for parking and toilet facilities in the Cobden Aromahana and Foreshore area, Far North District Council has received $120,000 for a stand-alone wastewater system in Broadwood, and we’ve provided Central Otago District Council $250,000 for public toilet and treatment systems.
“Government also invests in infrastructure across the board to support visitors, including $17.2 million for fibre in Marlborough, Nelson and Tasman, and a forecasted $221 million for roading improvements in the top of the South Island.
“There is more work to do. The earthquake last November heavily affected the North Canterbury region, and though we are starting to see tourist spending recover slightly, it’s important we continue to market the area internationally, and encourage New Zealanders to keep visiting.”
Key facts for earthquake affected areas:Tourism spending in North Canterbury, which includes Kaikoura and Hurunui Districts, saw an 18 per cent fall in the month of January 2017 (to $38 million) compared with January 2016. International visitor spending in North Canterbury fell 20 per cent in the month of January 2017, while domestic visitor spending fell 17 per cent over the same period. In areas adjacent to North Canterbury: Marlborough fell 1 per cent in the month of January 2017; Christchurch grew 2 per cent; and South Canterbury grew 17 per cent.
Further information from the Monthly Regional Tourism Estimates can be found here: http://www.mbie.govt.nz/info-services/sectors-industries/tourism/tourism-research-data/monthly-regional-tourism-estimates
Climate Change Minister Paula Bennett says China and New Zealand have experience and expertise to share about responding to climate change.
Mrs Bennett today met with China’s top official for climate change, Mr Zhang Yong, Vice Chairman of China’s National Development and Reform Commission, at Premier House in Wellington.
Mrs Bennett and Mr Zhang held the first Ministerial dialogue under the New Zealand-China Climate Change Cooperation Arrangement Memorandum signed by the two countries’ leaders in 2014.
“China is a key player in the global response to climate change and the implementation of China’s commitments under the Paris Agreement will be critical for its success,” says Mrs Bennett.
“Mr Zhang’s extended visit to New Zealand so soon after the Paris Agreement entering into force underscores New Zealand’s standing within the international climate change community and the prospects for greater bilateral cooperation.”
Mrs Bennett says the dialogue built on positive discussions she had last November with senior Chinese representatives at the COP 22 climate change negotiations in Marrakech.
During his stay, Mr Zhang is meeting with the Auckland City Council, visiting the world-leading New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre in Palmerston North, the NZ Forest Research Institute in Rotorua and Te Mihi Geothermal Power Station North of Taupo.
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Communities around New Zealand are continuing to benefit from steady growth in international visitor spending, which reached $10.1 billion in the year to December, Tourism Minister Paula Bennett says.
The latest International Visitor Survey results from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) released today shows that visitor spending is up 4 per cent over the same period in 2015.
“Last year we welcomed 3.5 million visitors to our shores. Tourism is our biggest export market and is hugely important to our economy. It’s great to see today’s release of the International Visitor Survey confirming that spending from international tourists remains strong,” Mrs Bennett says.
“International visitors coming to New Zealand for a holiday spent the most for this period with a total spend of $6.4 billion, up 10 per cent compared with the previous year. It was great to see strong growth in visitor spending from South Korea, which increased 82 per cent from 2015 to $299 million.
“It’s positive to see the industry still achieve a 4 per cent increase in visitor spending after record growth in 2015. We want to maintain these numbers while still ensuring these tourists can have a great visitor experience.
“There is a range of work underway to support the tourism sector to attract the right mix of visitors around New Zealand’s regions, and ensuring visitors have a great time. This includes funding for regional infrastructure projects, an education campaign for visiting drivers, and ongoing work to assess options for meeting future infrastructure needs.
“The earthquake last November had a limited overall impact nationwide on tourism expenditure. The effects of lower visitor numbers and spending was limited to the regions that suffered damage, especially Kaikoura. We are continuing to provide support to the North Canterbury region, such as the Employees Support Subsidy scheme and the restoration of the Kaikoura harbour and transport routes.”
Results from the International Visitor Survey are available here: http://www.mbie.govt.nz/info-services/sectors-industries/tourism/tourism-research-data/ivs
Emitters are now on their way to paying the full cost of their carbon emissions in New Zealand, says Climate Change Minister Paula Bennett.
“As part of our ongoing work programme to reduce domestic emissions we have started the three-year phase out of the one-for-two emissions trading scheme subsidy,” says Mrs Bennett.
“This subsidy allowed some businesses to pay one emissions unit for every two tonnes of pollution they emit. Last year the Government announced we are phasing the measure out over three years to give businesses time to plan and adjust.”
The initial 50 per cent unit cost increased to 67 per cent from 1 January, and will rise to 83 per cent from 1 January 2018. All sectors in the ETS will pay the full market price from 1 January 2019.
“It is vital for businesses that we have certainty in our long-term response to climate change. Following the second stage of the ETS review this year we will set a clear long-term direction on how the ETS will help meet our ambitious emissions reduction targets,” says Mrs Bennett.
“Meeting our Paris Agreement targets will require more than business as usual. Alongside the ETS review, we have established three expert groups to help get more trees into the ground, reduce agricultural emissions, and adapt to the environmental impact of climate change.
“We’re also investing $2 billion on public transport, setting targets to increase the number of electric vehicles year on year until 2021, investing $20 million a year in agricultural greenhouse gas research and providing $200 million for international climate-related support.”
Recommendations from the second stage of the ETS review are expected in mid-2017 when the review is scheduled to conclude.
Police Minister Paula Bennett has today announced a new easy-to-remember phone number will be launched for non-urgent police calls.
“It’s important that people can contact the police at all times of the day and night, whether the matter is life-threatening or less serious. We want our police force to be easily accessible and for the entire community to feel connected to them,” Mrs Bennett says.
“There are currently more than 300 local police phone numbers and some aren’t manned 24/7. More than 1.8 million calls are made to local stations a year and satisfaction levels for those that ring are much lower than for 111 emergency calls.”
The number will be available from next year and will cater for calls that aren’t appropriate for 111 including reporting low-level or historic crime and giving information about suspicious activities. Those with emergencies should continue to call 111.
The number, which will be revealed when the service goes live next year, will be easy-to-remember, such as three digits or an 0800 number.
“A centralised, 24/7 service centre will significantly improve public access to police services no matter where in the country a member of the public is calling from. A non-emergency number has already been successfully introduced in Australia, Canada and the UK.
Non-sworn officers will be recruited and trained to take calls as part of the Safer Communities Package announced by Prime Minister Bill English today. The operators will be based in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch alongside the 111 call centres.
“We know people get frustrated when they can’t easily reach their local station for non-emergencies. This service will improve accessibility for everyone and lead to Police building trust and confidence with the public.
“Having just one number to remember that’s always available will increase public confidence. Staff answering the calls will be able to assist people themselves, divert them to a local police station if appropriate, or put them through to the 111 operators if it is an emergency.”