Business leaders who are most concerned about the gender pay gap normally have daughters, Women's Minister Paula Bennett says.

Bennett today released guidance for companies about how they can close the gender pay gap, and in a speech criticised large companies that had declined to speak to the Ministry for Women about the problem.

Despite saying she found it "appalling" that New Zealand hadn't made better progress Bennett said she didn't see the need for legislation similar to that recently passed in Australia to make large companies publicly report on their pay gap.

Bennett said the Government would keep an eye on how that change worked in Australia, but she was heartened by the efforts being made by some companies here.


The male CEOs most keen to address the problem usually had something in common, she said.

"The men do want to talk to me about their workplaces and what they can be doing ... the biggest champions have always got daughters. I always say to them, 'Ah - you've got teenage girls'. And they go, 'Yeah'.

"Because you sit there and look at your daughters and sons and wonder why it is that their sons are more likely to end up in senior management roles than their daughters, purely based on gender."

New Zealand's national gender pay gap is 12 per cent.

In the past, a large proportion of the gender pay gap was because of factors such as differences in education or more women working part-time. However, researchers say 80 per cent of the gap is now driven by "unexplained" factors.

The Ministry of Women has interviewed 26 companies about what they are doing to close the gap, 12 of whom released their profiles publicly.

Bennett said that was brave and provided an example to other companies.

"I must say, I was pretty disappointed to hear of a few big companies, some of whom are here I bet - and you know who you are - but they just didn't want to engage on this with the ministry, at all. It tells us we have a long way to go.


"Saying you pay all your receptionists the same regardless of gender doesn't cut it."

In March a private member's bill by Green Party MP Jan Logie was drawn from the ballot.
It would make all employers include gender when recording information about pay rates for different roles in their workplace. Employers would be required to pass that information on to the Department of Labour for publication in aggregate form.

Bennett said she was a "firm believer" that it was attitudes within companies and not regulation that would result in change.

"We will obviously keep an eye on what is happening in Australia ... but at the moment I am very heartened by businesses that do want to close the gender pay gap.

"I quite frankly find it appalling that in 2017 in the country that first gave women the vote that we haven't made more progress."