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Griffin on Tech: The gender pay gap and the tech companies owning up to it

Peter Griffin, Editor. 11 March 2022, 2:50 pm

We like to think that we are a progressive bunch in the tech sector, egalitarian, tolerant and more socially in tune than some of the more traditional industry sectors slower to move with the times.

There's some truth to that, but it is also true that the tech sector is just as bad at perpetuating some of the bad outcomes that exist across the economy. Tech workers enjoy high salaries compared to those in tourism or retail, for instance, but tech companies still pay women, Māori and Pasifika people less than Pakeha men.

We aren't talking about pay equity here. If you apply for a job at a New Zealand tech company as a software developer or a project manager, you aren't going to be offered a lower pay rate because you are a woman or are Māori. But for a variety of complex reasons relating to the different roles men and women tend to fill in the tech world, the dominance of men in more senior positions and the fact women are more likely to work part-time to accommodate family responsibilities, means women and ethnic minorities earn less overall.

Pay Gap

That's the gender pay gap and it came into stark relief this week on International Women's Day. Part of tackling the problem is acknowledging that a pay gap exists in your organisation, allowing you to then do something about it. 

MindTheGap.nz, a public pay gap registry listing over 160 New Zealand employers has been set up to do just that, tracking which companies actually publish details of the pay gap that exists in their organisation.

The initial list includes a number of tech and communications companies. 2Degrees Amazon, Chorus, Datacom, Endace and IBM admitted to not yet publishing any data publicly about their gender, Maori and Pacific Peoples pay gaps.

Spark, Xero, Jade Software and Fujitsu published data about their gender pay gap only. For Christchurch-based Jade, the pay gap is 2.8%.

"We have been working to close our gender pay gap through numerous activities underpinned by regular review," the company notes

"We have more to do, including continuing to balance our leadership pipeline to ensure we have females representing at all stages internally and addressing any gender pay gap anomalies that exist at a role level. We are committed to closing the gap for all of our people at Jade."

Screenshot 2022-03-10 at 4.31.18 PM.png

Jade's progress on closing the gender pay gap

Well done Jade, that's a clearly defined goal and one the company has clearly made progress towards. Xero, by comparison, has more work to do.

"As at February 2022, Xero's global pay gap is 11%. Comparable industry figures in New Zealand are 17% [for technology and communications workers] and 25 in Australia. Our pay gap includes all permanent and fixed-term employees, including our leadership team," Xero reported.

Spark's gender pay parity slipped slightly in 2020 to 28%, up from 26% the previous year.

"At Spark there are two key drivers of our median gender pay gap," the company noted

"The first being a greater proportion of females in our customer channels and secondly a lower number of females in highly skilled technology roles," it added.

Spark said it is trying to help "build a pipeline of female technology qualified employees, including through Women in Technology scholarships, and partnerships with external technology educators".

How about Fujitsu, the multinational Japanese headquarter electronics conglomerate?

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Work to be done... source: MindTheGap.nz

According to Fujitsu Australia and New Zealand's Office of Responsible Business Report 2020 - 2021, Fujitsu has a pay gap of zero. Yep, 0%. Well done Fujitsu. Multinationals tend to do better in these efforts as they have invested heavily in ESG (environment, social, governance) programmes. But Fujitsu could easily serve as inspiration for other companies that do more business in this part of the world but are lagging behind and which haven't joined MindTheGap yet.

In general terms, the gender pay gap is shrinking in New Zealand. It is now around 9% according to Statistics New Zealand, but has been flat for the last five years or so. Congratulations to all the IT and communications companies that have joined MindTheGap. Only by owning the issue, transparently tracking progress and learning from each other, can they really tackle the gender and ethnicity-based pay gaps in the tech sector.


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