Women in the Workplace: It’s 2024; where are we at? (International Women’s Day)


8 March 2024 is International Women’s Day. It is a day that celebrates the successes of women, but also reminds us of the work still to go. While New Zealand women have come a long way in paving the way for equal and fair treatment in the workplace; an 8.6% pay gap still exists.

In this article, we will discuss the barriers preventing women from having equal opportunities in the workplace and what employers can do to remove this unequal treatment, which is especially prevalent among wāhine Māori and Pacifica women.


The work still to be done

The three most significant ways in which women are disproportionately affected in the workplace are the gender pay gap, opportunities in leadership, and harassment/discrimination.


The Pay Gap

Under the Equal Pay Act 1972, employers must ensure that there is no differentiation in pay between male and female employees who perform the same or substantially similar work based on their sex.

However, the pay gap is alive and well. There is currently a pay gap of 8.6% for women, which is equivalent to European women earning $30.15 per hour compared to men at $33.00 per hour.

The Ministry for Women estimates women earn nearly $900,000 less than men over a lifetime.[1]

Women of colour face a further pay disparity. European women had median hourly earnings of $31.50, but by comparison; Asian women earn $29.00 per hour, wāhine Māori $28.29, and Pacifica women $28.00.

80% of the pay gap is driven by unexplained factors such as conscious and unconscious bias, and decision-making by men and women. This bracket is where employers have the power to intervene and make changes for a more equal workplace. The other 20% of the pay gap can be explained by the fact that women are more likely to work in occupations that are paid less.[2] Women are also more likely to participate in unpaid or voluntary work.


Women in Leadership

Women overall are also less likely to hold higher positions of leadership in the workplace.[3] According to the Ministry of Women, women held 53.1% of public sector board and committee roles. However, women only held  28.5% of director positions and 26.4% of executive management positions across the NZX-listed companies (2022).


Discrimination, Harassment and Bullying

Finally, women are more likely to experience discrimination, harassment and bullying at work – 14% compared to 9% of men. The most significant gap was among employed Māori, with the rate for wāhine Māori (17 per cent) twice that of Māori men (8 per cent).[4] These statistics were particularly prevalent in professions such as teaching, midwifery, community care/hospitality and machinery operations.



Why uplifting women benefits everyone

In the modern world there is no basis for disparity of treatment, opportunity or advancement based on gender. It is essential that employers and organisation assess any issues of disparity and correct them.  This includes having the same opportunities in the workforce, economic independence, and respect.

If moral and ethical reasons are not enough it makes financial sense to do so.


What can employers do?





This International Women’s Day let’s celebrate what those before us have done and continue to make changes in the workplace that empower and encourage gender equality at all levels.

Disclaimer:  This information is intended as general legal information and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a specific issue and wish to discuss it get in touch with the Black Door Law team.


[1] Women | Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (mbie.govt.nz)

[2]  The gender pay gap | Ministry for Women

[3] Women and Leadership | Ministry for Women

[4] One in 10 workers feels discriminated against, harassed, or bullied at work | Stats NZ

[5] A Better Way for Companies to Address Pay Gaps (hbr.org)

[6] Women leaders make work better. Here’s the science behind how to promote them (apa.org)