National | Business

New report shows billion dollar boost to economy if gender-parity action is taken

Gender diversity is the answer to New Zealand's talent crisis – that’s the findings of a new report by Champions For Change, a coalition of New Zealand's top chief executives and chairs who are committed to championing diversity and inclusion in their organisations.

The fifth annual Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Impact Report has also estimated a $20-40 billion boost for the country’s economy by 2030, if immediate gender-parity action is taken.

The report shows Aotearoa is close to an equal gender workforce but wāhine still earn less on average than their male counterparts across all sectors.

KPMG chief executive and Champions co-chair Matt Pritchard says there are two “exciting” messages in the report: People are working harder to make workplaces better, and more wāhine are working in senior organisational roles.

“Organisations that join Champions For Change are committed to targeting at least 40 per cent wāhine at their senior levels and publicly disclosing their pay gaps. These things kick us into actions.

“Those actions might be looking at flexible work policies, whānau leave policies or coaching and mentoring programmes that focus on improving our workforces for wāhine.”

Construction, trades and digital and technology sectors are still underrepresented by women, however. Pritchard says he thinks it starts at school, and that businesses need to do their part more.

“I’m questioning why my son is doing better work in woodwork while his sister is doing fabric tech and cooking. It’s 2022. It’s long past time for this stereotyping to change at that school level.

“If we can attract those talented wāhine to stay or rejoin the workforce, then we’re tapping into more of the talent pool. Businesses, households and the country are better off if that happens.”