Bank on track to close pay gap

MICHAEL FOREMAN
Last updated 19:00 23/07/2014

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Westpac has won the inaugural Equal Pay Awards, a competition organised by women's organisation YWCA Auckland to highlight New Zealand's gender "pay gap".

Law firm Simpson Grierson and entertainment company SkyCity Entertainment group shared a joint second place.

YWCA Auckland chief executive Monica Briggs said equal pay was a key focus for her organisation, which aimed to raise awareness of the 13 per cent gender pay gap.

Statistics New Zealand's most recent Quarterly Employment Survey showed men earn on average $29.94 an hour compared with $26.10 for women - 15 per cent more.

Judging panelist Susan Doughty, director of remuneration specialists DSD Consulting, said Westpac had won the gold award because it had shown it was working towards pay equity at an advanced level.

"Westpac are engaging with pay equity best practices and can be held up as an organisational role model in regards to pay equity," Doughty said.

Westpac head of remuneration Waqas Butt said gender pay equity was part of a wider diversity strategy.

Butt would not confirm Westpac had actually achieved gender pay equality, claiming that "the numbers are commercially sensitive", but he said the bank had provided information to YWCA to demonstrate it was on track to reaching that goal.

"Our aspiration is for equal pay for the same experience and performance," he said.

Westpac senior leadership manager Angie Smith said Westpac would gain a competitive advantage if it was clear its employees reflected the community the bank operated in. Gender equality would also make the bank more appealing to potential employees, she said.

Doughty said SkyCity was recognised for its innovative approach to starting salaries, and was investing in technology to ensure that decisions included a gender "parity check".

Simpson Grierson had also impressed the judges with its in-depth analysis of pay equity within its organisation and clear strategic plans to provide equal access to promotions, Doughty said.

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