Gender inclusive job evaluation

8 December 2006

'New guidelines released today make New Zealand a world-leader in efforts to eliminate gender bias in jobs,' Department of Labour Pay and Employment Equity Unit director Philippa Hall said. 

'The Gender-inclusive Job Evaluation Standard is an international first, to help ensure all employees have fair pay, treatment and employment opportunities - regardless of gender.

'The Standard is a booklet with guidelines that employers can follow to be confident around job evaluation. It sets out some steps to take, and provides additional helpful hints on planning and preparing for job evaluation and reviewing outcomes.

'It was developed by a Standards committee including HR companies, equity experts, and employer and employee groups,' said Ms Hall, who is a committee member.

'In New Zealand, women’s average earnings are lower than men’s – September 2006 figures show women earn 85.3% of men’s hourly pay packet.

'Gender inequality in employment is one reason for this. It can occur when job evaluations – the process of analysing jobs and grading them to set pay rates - are poorly planned and the results aren’t checked for gender bias.

'This can often be unintentional, where failure to consider all the elements of a job has led to under-valuation.

'Gender bias in job evaluations can occur when assumptions are made about the skills, responsibilities and demands involved in a job – and these assumptions are coloured by stereotypes about the people who usually do that work.

'For example, some female-dominated jobs require skills similar to those used by women in the home, like cooking, cleaning, and taking care of children. These sorts of skills are regarded as ‘natural’ rather than learned skills and can be underrated - resulting in a job being under-valued.

'This new voluntary standard will provide access to best practice information and guidelines in a range of HR areas, which will help employers provide a level playing field for all employees.

Job evaluation provider Strategic Pay’s David Shannon said the Standard provides an excellent framework for the total job evaluation process.  

'This Standard is not merely a nod at political correctness, as some may have feared, but a very useful tool for the design and implementation of effective job evaluation processes. It will be a help, not a hindrance, in our work.'

CTU’s Vice President Helen Kelly said that the CTU hoped all providers of job evaluation systems would ensure their schemes and systems complied with the Standard.

She said unions would now be asking questions about any future use of systems that do not meet the standard set. 

'I imagine that now we have this Standard, employers, unions and providers will want to ensure current processes comply, and that all job evaluations conducted from now on are fair and free of discrimination.'

The Standard is sponsored by the Department of Labour’s Pay and Employment Equity Unit.


For more information please contact Daphne Atkinson, Communications Manager for Standards New Zealand, on 04 498 3986, 021 253 6567
For more information on the Pay and Employment Equity Unit, see or contact Communications advisor Charlotte Bull on 04 915 4716 or 027 446 3538.


Information on the Gender Inclusive Job Evaluation Standard:

The Standard was sponsored by the Department of Labour, and was developed by a committee of representatives from:  the Council of Trade Unions; Business New Zealand; the Department of Labour; the Human Rights Commission; District Health Boards New Zealand; the EEO Trust; the Human Resources Institute New Zealand; the Ministry of Health, Remuneration Consultants: Strategic Pay, Mercer Human Resource Consulting and Hay Group; the State Services Commission; and equity experts from Top Drawer Consultants and Expertise Ltd.

Why is the Standard needed?

Best practice job evaluation, which eliminates gender bias, occurs when: participants are trained in job evaluation, there is transparency when designing and planning job evaluation projects, there is good communication throughout the project, careful documentation of processes and results, and ongoing monitoring and evaluation of outcomes by gender.

Job evaluations can be used for making internal and external comparisons among jobs and can be used in many human resources management processes including recruitment, remunerations and performance management.

How does the Standard work?

The Standard comes in the form of Booklet that provides guidance on what people need to do to be confident around job evaluation.

It sets out some steps that must be taken and provides additional helpful hints, on planning and preparing for the job evaluation project, evaluating the jobs and reviewing the outcomes of the project.

The Standard captures the best of existing good practices in preventing gender bias in job evaluation and will contribute to overall improvement in human resources management.

Who will use the Standard?

It is expected that the main users of the Standard will be human resource management practitioners, job evaluation services and systems, equity practitioners, employers and unions.

Background on pay and employment equity:

Government has developed a five-year Pay and Employment Equity Plan of Action to ensure that remuneration is free of gender bias and that barriers to employment equity for women are removed in these sectors.

A tripartite steering group has been established to lead the plan of action and to monitor and report on its progress. The Steering Group draws on the practical experience of unions and employers in the three sectors and guides the work of the Pay and Employment Equity Unit.

The Pay and Employment Equity Unit has been established within the Department of Labour to implement the plan of action, and support organisations through the process.

The Unit develops tools and guidelines for reviews, job evaluation, and pay investigation and provides training on the tools and processes for review committees and project managers. The Unit will also develop case studies that share the review process and outcomes and participants' experiences.

What is pay and employment equity?

Pay and employment equity exists when men and women have the same access to pay and employment conditions and opportunities. This means people can have choices about how paid and unpaid work is shared in their families and households, instead of choices being made for them.

Pay and employment equity is different from equal pay. The Equal Pay Act 1972 provided that women and men doing the same job would get the same pay.

Why is work to promote pay and employment equity necessary?

Lastest statistics show that hourly earnings of women in New Zealand were only 85.3% of men’s hourly pay packet (September 2006).

The difference in how men and women are paid reflects the type of jobs that women do, how these jobs are recognised and valued by society, and restrictions faced by women when arranging paid work around caring responsibilities

Women of all ages are still dramatically under-represented in high-level positions. For example, almost two-thirds of the top-100 publicly listed companies in New Zealand have no women at governance level

This difference affects men as well as women; while women's earnings may be lower, men may be allowed less employment flexibility and expected to work longer hours

While gender affects pay and employment in this way, it is difficult for men and women to make their own choices about sharing paid and unpaid work

These are all factors which need to be addressed before pay and employment equity can be achieved.