​NZ gender inequality - Do men need to open their eyes to the problem?

Far fewer men than women believe that female employees face any gender-based inequality in New Zealand workplaces.

Far fewer men than women believe that female employees face any gender-based inequality in New Zealand workplaces.

Hays New Zealand research - conducted in unison with International Women’s Day - claims that while Kiwi men still dominate senior roles across the country, there is almost no difference in female and male ambition for such roles.

In the survey of 174 New Zealand men and women, 88 percent of men think there is equal pay between genders compared to 54 percent of women.

Meanwhile, 86 percent of men believe the same career opportunities are open to equally capable colleagues regardless of gender compared to 58 percent of women.

Delving deeper, findings claim that 83 percent of all respondents, both men and women, report that the most senior person within their organisation is male with 63 percent also confirming that their line manager is also male.

“We have a lot to celebrate here in New Zealand on International Women’s Day, but many Kiwis would argue that progress towards workplace gender equality can still be hindered today by people, more often than not men, who fail to see any problem,” says Jason Walker, Managing Director, Hays New Zealand.

As Walker claims, female and male ambition for management and director roles is nearly identical however, with 45 percent of women and 47 percent of men aspiring to reach director or MD/CEO level.

But only 41 per cent of women feel they have the opportunity to self-promote and communicate their ambitions in the workplace, compared to 69 per cent of men.

Meanwhile just 30 per cent of women and 39 per cent of men said their organisation has formal gender diversity policies and practices in place.

According to the New Zealand Stock Exchange’s 2015 gender diversity statistics, the number of female directors has increased by only five per cent since 2013 from 12.4 per cent to 17 per cent in 2015.

“Given that the majority of people in executive and senior management roles are still men, it’s difficult to see how gender parity can be accelerated when many of those in positions of influence do not see any inequality issue to begin with,” Walker adds.

“It’s interesting that there is little difference between male and female ambition for reaching senior positions. But being able to promote your achievements is a key part of successful career development and reaching such roles.

“When only half of women feel they have the opportunity to self-promote and communicate their ambitions, employers must do more to ensure opportunities are communicated to all and recognise and draw out the skills and ambitions of those around them.”

Walker says the 2016 International Women’s Day theme is ‘pledging for parity’, calling for everyone, both men and women, “to pledge to take a concrete step to help achieve gender parity more quickly”.

But what steps can the industry take?

“Employers should encourage female ambition, focus on employee self-promotion and implement and communicate gender diversity policies,” Walker adds.

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