New Zealand's gender pay gap is about double the Stats NZ estimate when variables such as bonuses are thrown into the mix, consultants StrategicPay say.
The most widely available figure on the gender pay gap provided by Stats NZ indicates the gap is currently 9.3 per cent as at June 2019 quarter.
The figure is determined from a sample of about 25,000 employees and calculates the overall median difference between male and female hourly earnings - base pay - across that sample.
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But StrategicPay said in a report that when other benefits, such as vehicles or KiwiSaver, were analysed and when variable pay such as bonuses were thrown into the mix, the gap was far wider.
"From a sample of over 187,000 employees from over 950 organisations in New Zealand we have found that the overall gender pay gap is 17.7 per cent in New Zealand," StrategicPay chief executive John McGill said.
McGill said pay equity was an important issue that had been a key focus for many businesses and governments over the past few years.
"As we move into a world changed by the Covid-19 pandemic, we understand that in times of crisis, business focus may change and addressing pay inequity may move down the priority list," he said.
"But we believe this is still an important issue to be addressed, in some ways now more than ever."
Women were strongly represented in roles that depended on social interaction - front-line service workers across many industries - and were more likely to feel the brunt of financial hardship as a result of the pandemic, he said.
"We could still see large numbers of people across most industries and particularly in the private sector, not only losing their jobs but also potentially being hired back at lower rates when the world starts moving again."
The report's analysis of the data showed that overall males received more incentives, higher KiwiSaver contributions and higher-value vehicles.
"Therefore, an analysis that looks only at base pay masks the fact that males on balance receive more fixed and variable pay (bonuses) than their female counterparts.
"This may have in part to do with the types of roles attracting the benefits - those roles requiring vehicles, such as regulatory or other field roles in local or regional government.
"However, it is less clear why females at all levels receive less in KiwiSaver than their male counterparts."
Elsewhere in its report, StrategicPay said female representation on New Zealand boards had been increasing steadily since 2011.
StrategicPay said there was an 11.8 per cent gender pay gap for chair fees and a 20.8 per cent pay gap for directorship fees.