TVNZ's boss is confident its workplace policies safeguard against the kind of sexual harassment revealed to be plaguing the entertainment industry overseas and says there's no gender pay gap between its presenters.

The assurances were made by chair Dame Therese Walsh and chief executive Kevin Kenrick to a select committee on Thursday morning as part of the public broadcaster's annual review.

Kenrik said it was "naive" to think there had never been an issue with sexism in TVNZ's history, but the board was happy with the organisation's current culture.

TVNZ boss Kevin Kenrick says the company's sexual harassment policies are up to scratch and he's happy with the state broadcaster's current culture. Photo / Greg Bowker
TVNZ boss Kevin Kenrick says the company's sexual harassment policies are up to scratch and he's happy with the state broadcaster's current culture. Photo / Greg Bowker

He told the committee TVNZ was keenly aware of being part of the entertainment industry, which has been "front and centre" of the Me Too movement and sexual harassment allegations overseas.

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While he would not be drawn on naming names or putting a number on presenters' salaries, citing privacy issues, Kenrick said gender parity across TVNZ's on-screen talent was "very strong".

"We look at that regularly; we have no concerns about our performance in that area."

TVNZ's Seven Sharp presenter Hilary Barry has been outspoken about the issue in the past, saying in the past broadcasters should earn the same amount and speaking out against gender pay gaps generally.

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A higher number of men in senior executive roles was the main driver of gender pay disparity within the company, he said.

"Equivalence of representation at those more senior levels … will be the single biggest driver in getting more parity in remuneration."

During the review National MP Chris Finlayson asked TVNZ's representatives for an assurance there were policies in place to ensure the broadcaster was a safe environment to work in, in light of recent sexual assault and harassment allegations against law firm Russell McVeagh.

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"Like everyone else we have absolutely taken notice of the global attention and have used that as a catalyst to remind people in the organisation of the processes and the policies we do have in place," Kenrick said.

He was confident the policies were fit for purpose and said the emphasis had been about reminding employees how to effectively use those policies if they needed.

"I think it would be naive to assume in our history we haven't had things that wouldn't look that good, but what we are focused on is the environment we've got right now and how we improve that," Kenrick said.

Dame Therese Walsh, TVNZ's board chair, said the organisation had a good culture around gender equity. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Dame Therese Walsh, TVNZ's board chair, said the organisation had a good culture around gender equity. Photo / Mark Mitchell

In response to a question from Labour MP Aupito William Sio enquiring whether any complaints had been made by staff in the last year, Kenrick said there had been none.

"In the last year we don't have any specific complaints in that regard, but we have to be a learning organisation and I think there are some very clear lessons which all organisations are learning."

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TVNZ needed to remain in step with global expectations as those expectations shifted, he said, adding that the organisation was fortunate to have had a gender balanced board for some time.

"We get the benefit of that in that the board has proactively engaged in conversations about what environments we're creating and how are we driving things in a direction that's going to be more favourable."

Walsh added that TVNZ had shown commitment culturally to addressing the social issue of sexual harassment and assault, giving the example of a web series, So This Happened which launched in March last year.

The animated series predates the start of the Me Too movement but is similar in that it consists of short stories where women narrate an experience they've had with sexual assault.