17 Oct 2016

Ignore gender gap, risk missing out - HR expert

9:48 pm on 17 October 2016

Companies that have taken steps to address gender inequality appear to be doing better than those that have not, the head of the New Zealand branch of a global recruitment firm says.

A man and two women in business dress stand on a balcony in an office.

Photo: 123RF

A survey by the firm, Randstad, has shown fewer New Zealanders believe men and women are treated equally in the workplace compared with other countries.

It found New Zealand ranked near the bottom of the 33 countries surveyed for the study, conducted through an online questionnaire among a population aged 18-65. The minimum sample size was 400 interviews per country.

While 78 percent of New Zealanders thought the genders were treated equally, that was below the international average of 81 percent.

Randstad New Zealand manager Brien Keegan said companies that had taken steps to remove inequality tended to do better.

"They've created awareness and then they've created action from that," he said.

"So, simple things - let's get the pay gap right, let's make sure we are actually going through a clear and consistent process to get the right person in the job."

Mr Keegan said a "scary statistic" from the research was that most respondents believed gender inequality increased with the seniority of the job, which had "massive implications" for New Zealand's talent pool.

Someone only needed to look at the list of the top 50 chief executives in New Zealand to see proof to match the research, he said.

"There aren't any, but if we look at countries that are doing well in this list you'll see India tops out the list," he said.

"I've thought about why this is, and talent mobility is key - they're happy to take on different roles and there seems to be a greater focus on the overall role than on the gender or sexuality of the person."

Mr Keegan said New Zealand employers would do well to ensure they were tapping into both halves of the talent pool, to avoid good staff looking elsewhere around the world.

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