Businesses choosing to report their pay gaps without being forced to would truly be something to toast this Christmas 

Opinion: Caffeine and scorched almonds.

That is what is holding me together at present.

But the end of the year is near, so close I can already smell our Christmas tree decaying in the lounge next door. 

There are some presents under the tree already including some carefully wrapped rectangular boxes with “Mum” scrawled on them. Presumably more scorched almonds.

These will of course be well received. 

But only if they are the milk chocolate ones. None of this new salted caramel crap for me. No one should have been allowed to tamper with perfection. 

I would be even happier if we unwrapped news that the Government had decided that organisations should report their ethnic and gender pay gaps. 

That women are paid less, sometimes for doing the same job as men, has been talked about for a while. That there are substantial pay gaps for Māori, Pacific and ethnic workers is perhaps less well understood. Then there is the double whammy that is the pay gaps Māori, Pacific, and ethnic women experience.

What gets measured gets done. Just like how sunlight removes the stain, public transparency has been proven to reduce pay gaps. The UK reported a 20 percent decrease in the gender pay gap when it legislated that businesses must publicly report their gender pay gaps. 

The same thing happened in the public service here this year, where the gender pay gap dropped to 8.6 percent – lower than the national one. Public accountability and reporting sure helped to get the ball rolling and pay gaps taken seriously.   

Thinking of how many women would have more in their pay packets would put a permanent festive grin on my face. 

Especially when I think of how many households depend on women’s wages. 

What would make me ecstatic is if businesses chose to report their pay gaps without being forced to. 

That would be an impressive mark of leadership and maturity. Worthy of many ho ho hos.

It would also be a cunning talent attraction strategy. Address your gender and ethnic pay gaps. Attract the talent. Research shows it works. Ironically, UK women report taking a 5 percent salary cut to move to employers with smaller gender pay gaps.

As the year ends, I would like to raise a toast to all those leaders who know their organisation’s gender and ethnic pay gaps and have plans in place to address them. Bravo. 

Can you also share your pay gaps with us? So we can choose whether we want to work for you, invest in you and buy your goods and services?

And for all of us to ask – retailers, our mobile phone and electricity providers, our banks, petrol companies and so on – what their gender and ethnic pay gaps are. So we can choose if we continue to give them our custom. 

After all that asking and reporting, it will time to celebrate and relax. 

May you have plenty of whatever your scorched almonds equivalent is, in the good company of friends and whānau, topped off with too much pav and maybe a sneaky sav.

This is Jo Cribb’s last column for the year. She’ll be back at the end of January.

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