Racism, unconscious bias, workplace discrimination contribute to Pacific pay gap - report
AUT researchers find that only 27 percent of the pay gap for Pacific males and 39 percent for Pacific females can be explained.
19th July, 2022
Racism, unconscious bias and workplace discriminatory practices are being blamed for contributing to Pacific, Māori, and ethnic pay gaps in this country.
The findings come in a report launched by the Human Rights Commission’s Pacific Pay Gap Inquiry.
The research was carried out by AUT’s New Zealand Work Research Institute (NZWRI), and found that only 27% of the pay gap for Pacific males could be explained, and 39% for Pacific females.
But three-quarters of the pay gap (73%) for Pacific men and 61% of the pay gap for Pacific women could not be explained even after accounting for differences in job-related characteristics and educational attainment.
“This research provides further evidence about what we’ve long suspected – the bulk of the Pacific Pay Gap can’t be explained and is at least partly due to invisible barriers like racism, unconscious bias and workplace discriminatory practices,” says Saunoamaali’i Karanina Sumeo, Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner.
“These human rights violations are holding back Pacific workers from realising their full potential in the workplace.
“Pay gaps exist because we perpetuate the entrenched disparity it needs to survive.
"Our current systems simply aren’t set up for Pacific, Māori, ethnic minority workers to feel respected, supported and to thrive in the workplace,” says Saunoamaali’i.
Researchers used a wide range of factors to test which could explain the pay gap, including job characteristics, education levels, number of household dependents, and regions where people lived.
NZWRI Director, Professor Gail Pacheco, says the portion of the pay gap can partly be explained by the types of jobs predominantly held by Pacific workers.
“We found that Pacific people are less likely to be a manager, and more likely to be in a labour type occupation. Additionally, Pacific men are more highly concentrated in the manufacturing industry, while Pacific women work mostly in the healthcare and social assistance sectors,” says Pacheco.
Saunoamaali’i said it was unacceptable that Pacific, Māori and ethnic minority workers continued to be penalised and undervalued in the workplace based on unfair workplace practices, unconscious bias and racial discrimination.
She called for continuted investment and training for Pacific communities, but warned "education alone will not close the Pacific Pay Gap".
"Our lawmakers and employers need to be held accountable and take action on pay inequity and the unequal treatment of our workers.”
The report on the Pacific Pay Gap Inquiry’s findings, including recommendations for Government and employers, will be released later this year. More information about the Inquiry can be found here.