Last Sunday this newspaper reported that "male presenters at Television New Zealand earn an average $40,000 more a year than their female counterparts, a gender pay gap the state-owned broadcaster spent two years trying to keep secret".
This was based on an interpretation of information provided by TVNZ in response to an Official Information Act request.
In response to this article, I offer the following observations for your consideration.
1. The $40,000 figure does not in any way represent a reliable measure of the difference in pay between female and male presenters at TVNZ.
The data reported on by the Herald on Sunday was averaged to protect individuals' right to privacy, so it couldn't and doesn't provide an accurate comparison of individual pay by gender.
The data provided included presenters who worked one day a week and others who worked five days per week. It represented some programmes that run for 52 weeks of the year and others for part of the year. It included individuals with multiple decades of presenting experience and others with less than three years' experience. It also represented a different set of individuals over each of the three years of data based on when they joined or left the business.
While all the individuals included in the data were presenters at TVNZ, they don't do the same jobs - and because of that they're paid differently.
2. TVNZ is committed to defending its employees right to privacy.
So why didn't we simply disclose individual salaries and avoid this problem? Our high-profile presenters are willing to put themselves in the public eye as part of doing their job. They accept the loss of anonymity that goes with this profile, but they don't expect their employer to publicly divulge their individual pay details.
As an organisation, we have a responsibility to our employees. When the Herald requested salary details of our top 10 presenters split by male and female, we had concerns about privacy, and we voiced this. The Herald then asked the Chief Ombudsman to rule on the matter.
The Ombudsman sought advice from the Privacy Commissioner and the Department of Statistics and concluded "the small numbers involved do mean that there is a real prospect disclosure could reveal fairly accurate salary information about individuals". The Ombudsman recommended TVNZ provide information from a larger sample and TVNZ complied with this determination.
Like the Herald, TVNZ would have welcomed a determination in 24 hours rather than 24 months, but the duration of the Ombudsman process was outside our control.
3. Gender pay parity matters.
I agree with the Herald that gender pay parity matters. However, this issue is too important to be clouded by what I consider sensational headlines and misleading analysis.
TVNZ is committed to ensuring individuals doing substantially the same work receive the same pay. We review pay across like-for-like roles every year and make adjustments where required.
Transparency is important, and TVNZ's gender pay gap is publicly disclosed in our annual report. Last year it was 4.6 per cent unfavourable to women. The primary driver of this gap was lower representation of women in some higher-paid roles – not the difference in pay for women vs. men in similar jobs, and not a gender pay gap among our presenters.
TVNZ is a big believer in diversity of thinking and actively promotes balanced gender representation and stronger ethnic representation across the business. As detailed in our annual report, women represented 49 per cent of our workforce, 54 per cent of our business leaders, 44 per cent of our executive team, and 43 per cent of our board last financial year. TVNZ people identify with 38 different ethnicities and our people speak 30 different languages. We are committed to publicly reporting on our progress every year.
In conclusion, we actively support equal pay for equal work but don't support breaching the privacy of our staff to demonstrate this commitment.
• Kevin Kenrick is chief executive officer at TVNZ