1 in 5 Women don’t want to ask

Is your employer committed to Equal Pay?


  • Workplace
  • Thought Leadership
April 21, 2020 Zoe Brownlie

1 in 5 Women don’t want to ask if their Employer is Committed to Equal Pay

OK, hands up..who likes talking about money? Ok, how about how much you’re getting paid? Ok, how about money, how much you’re paid, and whether it’s the same as your male colleagues? 

No? Damn straight we don’t. Society attaches a whole lot of baggage to money. It’s right up there with sex and family problems as things we realllly don’t want to talk about. Let alone whether we’re getting paid our worth, and let alone let alone whether we’re paid fairly in comparison to our colleagues.

And if conversations about money are difficult enough between you and your friends, it’s even harder when it comes to a conversation with your boss about it. 

Which is probably why recent research shows that 1 in 5 NZ women are not comfortable asking their employer if they support equal pay. Furthermore, this unwillingness to talk about it is likely contributing to another interesting revelation that 1 in 3 women don’t even know if their employer even supports equal pay in the first place. 

It’s not that surprising really that a lot of us don’t know. We take it for granted that our employers are paying us fairly. In fact, while 65% of women say that the gender pay gap is likely a problem, only 19% of us think it could be a problem in our own company. And yet the gender pay gap is as persistent as ever, with women earning on average 9.2% less, and at least $600,000 less on average over their lifetime. Imagine what you could do with $600,000!

So if it’s such a problem affecting all of us, why are we still unwilling to talk about it? Well, all of this is as a result of some very normal factors; our general shame about money, our reluctance to be ‘difficult’, not wanting to make things awkward by implying our boss is bias, and the difficulty of how do you even have a conversation about this stuff anyway? It’s not like we can lean over at a meeting and say, “I just need to table in the minutes an official enquiry into whether my boss is consciously or unconsciously bias!” 

So what’s the solution if we don’t know whether our employer supports equal pay, and we find it difficult to ask? Well, obviously we could all start practicing having difficult conversations. 

But honestly, the onus shouldn’t be on the individuals, but rather should be on businesses to show employees that they care about their rights and are abiding by their legal responsibilities. 

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