Why Closing the Gender Pay Gap is Good for Business

While the gender pay gap is smaller than a decade ago, a collection of top New Zealand business people are working hard to reduce it further.

CEOs and Chairs from companies such as IBM, Saatchi and Saatchi and Vector have joined Champions for Change. Together, they’re advocating for greater inclusion and diversity within their own organisation, sector, and the wider public arena. Why? Because creating gender balanced workplaces is not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.

What are the business benefits of closing the pay gap?

  • Good for your bottom line. Research shows the most gender-diverse companies are 21% more likely to experience above-average profitability.
  • Good for your brand. People will be attracted to buy from you and work for you, if you’re committed to equal pay and a diverse and inclusive workplace.
  • Great for brain power. A gender balance ensures multiple perspectives, which sparks creativity and innovation.
  • Great for sales. A diverse workforce better represents your customers, which means you’ll communicate with them more effectively.

So, does your business have a gender pay gap?

Look at your people data: how many men and women work for you? Are there more men at senior levels or in roles that lead to senior positions? What’s the difference in pay between all men and all women? Once you know where your problems lie, you can start fixing them.

Four smart ways to address the pay gap

  • Lead from the top: Everything you say, do, measure, and prioritise impacts your business’s culture. Treat gender diversity as a business priority. Help build a respectful, accepting workplace where everyone feels safe and supported.
  • Make a plan to make a difference: Carry out a pay equity audit, set yourself a target, then put aside money to review and address the issues. Look at all levels of your business, from the way you advertise jobs to professional development opportunities.
  • Be aware of bias: Around 80% of the gender pay gap is driven by hard-to–measure factors, including bias, which often creep in when making recruitment, performance and pay decisions. Make decisions based on transparent, performance-related criteria, have group sign off, and use gender-neutral language in job descriptions.
  • Get flexible: Tap into a bigger talent pool by showing you support employees on, and returning from parental leave. Consider ways people can work from home, condensed hours, flexi-time and job share.

‘For me, unconscious bias is the main challenge – addressing it starts with looking in the mirror and realising that you have it whether you are aware of it or not.’

Simon Mackenzie, CEO of Vector.

The Busy Person’s Guide to Stress-free Performance Reviews

How well are your staff performing? Do they love their job?

Performance reviews, an open two-way conversation held once or twice a year, are a great way to find out. While you’re not legally bound to do appraisals, they’re a great tool to keep your business running smoothly.

1. Open communication lines early

Whether you have five or 50 staff, communication is key when it comes to performance reviews. Let your staff know early (ideally during induction) what goals and objectives they need to meet and give them a chance to voice their ideas. By reviewing and updating these at each review, it will be easier to explain why they’ve received a less-than-perfect appraisal if their performance wanes.

2. Address challenges ASAP

If an employee is under-performing, there are a range of things you can do to help. Just make sure you do it sooner rather than later. Try observing them and gently offering constructive advice to help them do their job better. You could offer extra training to improve their skills if necessary. Consider any challenges they’re facing outside of work – flexible working conditions may be a positive solution for both of you.

3. Preparation is key

Give your employee at least a couple of weeks’ notice so you both have time to prepare for the appraisal. Look at your employee’s job description, notes from previous reviews and performance indicators in advance. Send your staff member a list of questions to review ahead of time, in relation to areas such as job satisfaction, responsibilities, and work/life balance. If your employee is a star-player, get feedback from other employees or key customers to support that view.

4. Keep it formal but friendly

A performance appraisal isn’t Dragons’ Den or a casual chat over coffee, it’s somewhere in between. It’s a chance for both of you to honestly discuss the role, whether goals have been met, what’s good or bad about the job, and if their pay will increase and why or why not.

5. Write everything down

Take notes at each review and share a written summary with your employee afterwards to ensure you agree it’s a true reflection of what was discussed. This is key if a staff member isn’t performing because if you have to let them go, you’ll have proof of warnings and the steps you took to try to help them improve their work.

6. Book in regular catch ups

Keep employees engaged and avoid potential issues by setting up informal chats once or twice a month. You don’t have to wait for the full performance review to give staff feedback or get feedback from them.

Today’s Apprentice is Tomorrow’s Foreman

Why apprenticeships work so well

With New Zealand’s construction industry going ballistic, a lot of construction companies are looking to hire new staff. Do they stick with their subbies, bring in qualified builders or take on an apprentice? Stefan Cammell, owner of Cammell Projects in Queenstown believes it’s an employer’s responsibility to upskill the next generation and take on apprentices.

“Taking on an apprentice is an investment in the future of your business and the construction industry”

“Taking on an apprentice is an investment in the future of your business and the construction industry,” says Stefan, who’s been building for 20 years. “It’s a win-win. You’re helping train someone young and motivated and they’re picking up how your business operates, the ethics of your company and your systems. When they become qualified they’re a huge asset to your business.”

What makes a good apprentice?

Cammell Projects’ most recent recruit is 26-year-old Heather Scott-Smith, who joined the crew in May 2018 after responding to a Facebook ad.

“I messaged Stef and said ‘I’m a chick, can I apply for the job?’ and he said ‘of course!’, which was awesome because I’ve had some people treat me differently because I’m female,” says Heather, who’s welcomed the move from her hometown of Dunedin to bustling Queenstown.

“Heather is an example of a great apprentice,” says Stefan, who’s brought on six apprentices over the past nine years. “She’s diligent, listens, takes on board information and works hard. That’s what you need to look for when bringing someone on.”

Two years into a four-year apprenticeship with BCITO (New Zealand’s largest provider of construction trade apprenticeships), Heather loves learning something new every day in a supportive working environment. The hardest part of the job?

“The frustrated look on Stef’s face when I don’t understand what he’s talking about!” she jokes. “It’s great to work for someone who wants to do big jobs not little patch ups. We’re both going in the same direction and I want to work for Stef for many years to come.”

Apprenticeships well worth the time and effort

Stefan says he gets a real kick out of watching his apprentices grow and become skilled but admits it’s more than just teaching the nuts and bolts of carpentry.

“A lot of apprentices are straight out of school so you’re teaching them life skills as much as how to be a builder. You’re teaching them how to turn up to work on time, interact with adults, look after themselves… so it’s a guidance role as well.”

A member of New Zealand Certified Builders, Stefan urges business owners to take the teaching role seriously.

“Apprentice training needs to be treated with respect.”

“Apprentice training needs to be treated with respect. Signing off training units when the apprentice isn’t up to standard isn’t helpful to the apprentice or the industry – it undermines the whole scheme. There’s an onus on the builder to make sure their apprentice is getting the training they need and achieving sign off once competent.”

If you are thinking of employing an apprentice and would this to discuss the impact it may have on your business, call us on (06) 878 8824.

What is your Business doing to attract the next Generation?

Gen Z (born after 1995) are tech-savvy, entrepreneurial, out-of-the-box thinkers – people you want on your team.

Here are four ways to attract and retain New Zealand’s next generation of workers.

1. Tinker with your tech

Gen Z live and breathe technology – they don’t know life without it. You’ll need to enable your people to collaborate and communicate in the cloud and on any device as well as provide video calling using FaceTime or Zoom.

2. Keep it simple when you hire

These digital natives suss everything on their smartphones, including jobs. Keep your job ad short and sweet, make it easy and fast for people to apply and include a short video of your office or a staff testimonial. Invite people to record a one-minute video to introduce themselves and add to their application.

3. Hone in on health

Health and wellness is a top priority but you don’t need a massive budget. From free gym passes, fruit baskets or a healthy lunch shout – staff wellness programmes come in all shapes and sizes.

4. Encourage their entrepreneurial spirit

Gen Z are more likely to look for a piece of the business pie. They understand business ownership and will want to know how their role impacts all facets of your company. Take this seriously and you could be on to a winner.

Minimum Wage Increase – 1 April 2019

More than 200,000 New Zealanders and their families will benefit from the New Zealand minimum wage increase to $17.70 an hour on 1 April 2019. This is an increase of $1.20.

The starting-out minimum wage and training minimum wage rates will increase from $13.20 to $14.16 per hour (remaining at 80% of the adult minimum wage).

The Government has also set indicative rates of $18.90 from 1 April 2020 and to $20 from 1 April 2021. These rates will be subject to each year’s annual review.

To find out more about the minimum wage increase, head to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website or call us anytime on (06) 878 8824.