YWCA and DDB wage war on gender pay gap

A number of recent studies show women in New Zealand are paid on average ten percent less for doing the same job as men—and the pay gap is widening. To draw attention to this inequality—and hopefully grease the wheels of new legislation to better address the issue—the YWCA Auckland and DDB NZ have decided to turn the tables and, through TV, print, online and experiential, including male-only surcharges at coffee carts and sausage sizzles, show men how absurd it is for the two genders to be treated differently when it comes to money. Plus: ASB’s Barbara Chapman on the glass ceiling. 


As it says on the website demandequalpay.org.nz, which, like the gender pay gap in New Zealand, is a bit wonky: “Discrimination is unfair, and in New Zealand it’s illegal. So why is it still happening? We need 10,000 signatures from men, and 10,000 from women to show the government that Kiwis won’t stand for it [Capuchin monkeys certainly won’t].”


The YWCA says the 1972 Equal Pay Act partially narrowed the ordinary time hourly earnings gap from 70 percent to 79 percent, but ten years later the ten percent gap still remained. And despite women moving up the business hierarchies, this gap has barely closed over the past ten years. 

Monica Briggs, chief executive of YWCA Auckland, hopes that by raising public awareness around this issue and giving some education around the facts, people will debate it and, just as importantly, pledge their support at demandequalpay.org.nz, so that government can be urged to adopt the Pay Equality Bill, drafted by Dr Judy McGregor, the out-going Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner. 

“This Bill would give transparency and openness to gender pay issues within workplaces, something which is not possible under current legislation,” she says. “The YWCA Auckland aims to empower young women both socially and economically. And this campaign fits very neatly around empowering young women to be economically independent.” 

Looking specifically at the marcomms space, statistics updated in November 2012 on the Ministry of Education’s ‘Education Counts’ website reveal some interesting findings when it comes to the male and female ratio of enrolments in sales and marketing-orientated courses. Women outnumber men right through to graduate diploma level, after which the trend reverses drastically. And when it comes to communication and media studies, the numbers remain strongly skewed towards women after diploma level.

So is the gender pay gap closing in this sector? That depends on which survey you read. Data released in November this year by Statistics New Zealand revealed the gap is the widest it’s been in a decade, increasing in the year to September by one percent to 14 percent. On the flipside, The New Zealand income survey, also released in November, reveals the gap to be at an all-time low, down from ten percent to nine percent in the last financial year. 

A 2011 report by the Ministry of Education on differences in earning between males and females post-tertiary education also reveals some interesting insights. At the diploma level, females who studied communications and media studies earned more than males four years post-study ($36,120 and $35,000 respectively), and their earnings increased less than their male counterparts during that time.

Women with a bachelors level qualification earned more than males one year after study ($31,060 and $31,050 respectively). However, males earned more than females four years after study ($44,980 and $43,250 respectively).

Barbara Chapman, the chief executive of ASB, spoke with Hazel Phillips about the issue in Idealog earlier this year. 

What are your views on women and the glass ceiling?

Oh, how long have we got? I do have really strong views. If you look at the performance of New Zealand, I was away for five years and I’ve come back and it’s almost like the momentum stopped. We had that wonderful period of a female prime minister and leader of the opposition and governor general and so on, and you look around now and there’s not as many women in those really big prominent roles.

When I was coming through the stream we had people like Theresa Gattung heading up Telecom and so on, but there’s not as many of those names around now, so I think we have lost momentum. When I look at the construct of boards, it’s 65 percent of all New Zealand boards are male-only. That’s twice the number that they have in Australia and I think we’ve got to fundamentally question how that’s happened.

The thing that I keep in my mind and talk about quite often is the gender pay gap. It’s been 30 years since it was illegal to pay women different amounts than men and we still have a gender pay gap of around ten percent, and on the current run rate, it’s going to take another 30 years before that gets closed. [Chapman is a member of the new 25 Percent Group, which is pushing for an increase in female representation on boards to 25 percent.]

Which means 60 years after the legislation was enacted, it will have taken effect. What other piece of legislation sits around for 60 years before it actually comes to life? We’ve got to question ourselves on why there are those differences, and even when you take away all the things like a broken career for family, you still get to that ten percent figure. Those sorts of things are really irrelevant in that mix. I’ve done some work looking at graduates who have come into an organisation at the same level and by the end of year one, the male graduates are earning five percent more. By the end of year five, they’re earning 17 percent more, although their performance reviews are balanced.

What do you think is driving that?

I think there’s some unconscious bias going on and we’ve got to drill into that and understand what to do about it. To measure people on it and measure leadership on it and make sure they understand it’s not good enough. In 30 years we will have cured cancer and the common cold and women still won’t be being paid the same as men for work of equal value.

We’ve got to look at this as a long-term problem for New Zealand society, because if you think about how an income gap translates to retirement earnings gap, it’s significant. So women aren’t able to save and provide for their own retirement at an equal rate as men, and there’s a lot of women who go into retirement as single females and they haven’t been able to accumulate as much wealth as men have because of some of these things like the gender pay gap, and I fundamentally think it’s wrong, and it needs to be really stared into.


Agency – DDB
Group New Zealand
Client –  YWCA Auckland


Executive Creative Director: Andy Fackrell

Director: Steve Kane

Copywriter/art director: Jonathan McMahon

Director/copywriter: Lisa Fedyszyn

director: Simone Louis

Director/copywriter: Toby Morris

Producer: Jane Mill

Director: Jenny Travers

Executive Amy Pollock  

Planner: Jamie

Company: Thick as Thieves

Director: Zoe

Producer: Claire Kelly

Executive Producer:
Nik Beachman

DOP: Andrew McGeorge

Editor: Steve Gulik

Grade: @

Production Co: Factory studios 

Audio Engineer: Clive Broughton

Producer: Andy Robilliard

Designer: Amanda Summersby


Director: Aaron Goldring

Copywriter /Art Director: Matt Webster 

Art Director/Copywriter: Ben Barnes

Senior Interactive Designer: Sam Schrey 

Digital Services Director: Paul Pritchard

Developer: Robbie Boyd 

Developer:  Simon Crocker 

Developer: Jarrad Edwards 

Producer: Paul Shannon


Account Director: Bob Glancy

Director: Sean Brown

Account Manager: Rebecca Rassie


Monica Briggs
– CEO YWCA Auckland

Shelley Geenty – Marketing & Communications Manager YWCA Auckland

Kate Sutton – President YWCA Auckland

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