18 September, 2019

Westpac NZ pledges action on gender pay gap

Westpac NZ is encouraging businesses to investigate their gender pay gap and take action to help close the gap between men and women’s pay.

The bank today voluntarily disclosed its gender pay gap and announced commitments towards closing it.

Westpac NZ Chief Executive David McLean said the bank was very close to achieving pay equity across the organisation – meaning men and women were paid equally for doing the same jobs, and paid equally within the same bands or levels across the bank. The bank had also focused on increasing the proportion of leadership roles held by women, achieving its target of more than 50%.

But Mr McLean said women still held the majority of lower-paid customer service roles and were under-represented in higher paid specialised areas, leading to a 30.3% overall gap in the median hourly pay of men and women.  

“While we are paying men and women equally for the work they do, and across each layer of the organisation, women and men are unevenly spread across our company, with more men working in higher paid areas and women dominating lower paid parts of the bank.

“I was startled by this figure,” Mr McLean said. “In large part it reflects a long term structural issue relating to the types of roles that were traditionally filled by men and women, which still persists within our organisation today.”

Mr McLean noted there was a lot of confusion about the difference between pay equity and the gender pay gap.

“We are releasing this report to be open and honest about our own position, but also to break the ice for other businesses to talk about it, as we believe more transparency, more public debate and more action are needed on this issue.”

Mr McLean said Westpac NZ had made substantial progress in placing more women into leadership roles over the past few years, but the new analysis showed more balance was needed in senior roles and in specialised roles in areas such as technology, finance and institutional banking.

“We have done a huge amount of work in this area.  Our chairperson, three of our Board members, and four of our eight general managers are women, and women hold more than 51% of leadership positions across the bank, but we clearly have much more work to do.”

Mr McLean said closing the gap would take time, but Westpac NZ was immediately committing to:

  •    Publishing a comprehensive annual gender pay analysis.
  •    Increasing the proportion of our top three tiers of management who are women to 50% by 30 September 2025. (Currently this figure is 37%).
  •    Continuing to search for and eliminate any disparities in pay equity.
  •    Increasing paid parental leave to 100% of an employee’s pay for 22 weeks (implemented 1 July, 2019).
  •    Applying for YWCA Gender Tick accreditation by the end of 2019.
  •    Reviewing all related policies and processes to ensure they support closing the gender pay gap.

Mr McLean encouraged other businesses to understand both pay equity and the gender pay gap, the differences between them, and to measure, report and take action on their own data.

“Businesses in some other countries have to disclose this sort of information by law. We want to get the ball rolling in New Zealand by providing the data voluntarily. We know making these figures public will open us up to scrutiny. But doing so also drives us to up our game, knowing New Zealand is watching. We encourage other large businesses to join us.”

Westpac NZ General Manager of Human Resources and Corporate Affairs, Gina Dellabarca, said the analysis showed women held 62% of all roles at Westpac NZ, and 51% of leadership roles, but only 36% of the highest paid roles by quartile.

“Gender balance is a common sense priority for businesses looking to harness the widest possible pool of talent.

“Diverse teams are able to draw on a diverse range of skills and life experiences, which sets them up to make good decisions that benefit customers.”

As part of the project, Westpac NZ asked Deloitte to report back on ways businesses should be approaching gender pay issues, and today released the research freely to all organisations.

“Deloitte’s report sets out a roadmap for quantifying the gender pay gap, and working out what’s driving it. We know there are many variables behind different gender pay measures and this analysis from Deloitte helps to cut through the confusion,” Ms Dellabarca said.

Westpac NZ also publicly released a breakdown of its pay analysis, which had been independently reviewed by the Director of the NZ Work Research Institute at AUT, Professor Gail Pacheco.

ENDS