An overview of progress to date

The Public Service gender pay gap fell substantially in 2018–19

Between 2018 and 2019 the gender pay gap in the Public Service fell 1.7 percentage points to 10.5%. This is the largest annual decrease since 2002 and takes this gap to its lowest level since 2000 when measurement began.[1]

The following Action Plan initiatives contributed to this drop:

  • increasing the number of women in senior leadership roles
  • closing gender pay gaps in the same or similar roles: more women received salary corrections as a result than men did.

Other factors which contributed to the reduction:

  • pay equity settlements in two female-dominated Public Service workforces
  • initiatives to increase the pay of the lowest-paid employees, proportionally more of whom are women, e.g. the Living Wage was introduced across the Public Service.

Description of Figure 1

Figure one is a line graph. The horizontal axis shows years from 2000 to 2019. The vertical axis shows percentages from zero to 18%. The line shows that in 2000 the gender pay gap in the Public Service was 18.6% and it has slowly fallen. In 2019 the gender pay gap was 10.5%.

Public service gender pay gap trend

Figure 1: The Public Service gender pay gap had been trending downwards since 2000 but progress was slow. The average drop per annum between 2001 and 2018 was only 0.24%. Between 2018 and 2019 the gender pay had its largest annual fall since 2002.

Agencies have achieved the milestones in the Action Plan

Agencies have achieved a great deal in a short time. They are meeting the milestones in the Action Plan while tailoring their actions to reflect their workforces and the balance of gender pay gap drivers they face.

So far:

  • two thirds of the agencies have closed any pay gaps within the same or similar roles (like-for-like), and the remainder are working to achieve this
  • half of the agencies are piloting flexible-by-default working
  • the gender pay gaps in 23 out of 33 agencies fell between 2018 and 2019[2]
  • half of the positions in the top three tiers of leadership are held by women, and half of the Public Service’s chief executives are women, including the heads of 4 of the 6 largest agencies
  • all agencies created action plans for 2019 and 2020, and will publish them on their agency websites this year.

The Taskforce has supported agencies to achieve success through guidance, workshops, and tailored support

The Taskforce has collaborated with the Gender Pay Principles Working Group, the Public Service Association (PSA) and agencies to develop guidance to help agencies meet the milestones in the Action Plan. The guidance is based on current evidence about effective actions to reduce organisational gender pay gaps, and the collective expertise of Taskforce members, the Public Service Association (PSA), the Gender Pay Principles Working Group and agencies’ human resource and diversity practitioners. 


Guidance published so far:

Guidance in development:

  • Removing gender bias from remuneration systems, policies and practices
  • Removing gender bias from career progression, career breaks and leave policies and practices.

Our guidance is iterative. We’ll amend and strengthen it as evidence develops about what works to reduce the impact of gender and other biases.


We hold workshops to support the guidance we release. These are co-designed and co-presented with the PSA reflecting our partnership approach. A mix of agency human resources and diversity practitioners and PSA organisers and delegates attend, ensuring that employer and employee representatives receive the same information at the same time. The workshops include agency case studies to show how our guidance plays out in practice. Interactive sessions are always included so that participants can ask detailed questions and share their experiences with each other. We’ve held 14 workshops so far, including:

  • Measuring and analysing gender pay gaps for Public Service agencies
  • Developing your gender pay gap action plan
  • Ensuring gender is not a factor in salaries for the same or similar roles
  • Flexible work by default deep-dive sessions, for example on remote working and on engaging people in flexible work.

We provide particular support to a flexible work pilot group. This group is a community of practice of public sector agencies sharing knowledge as they work to embed a flexible work by default approach.

The workshops and the flexible work pilot group are regular opportunities for agencies and unions to learn together and build networks to share good practice.

Monitoring and promotion

We monitor progress and identify potential difficulties and learning needs primarily through agencies’ annual gender pay gap action plans. We also use our workshops, questionnaires and conversations with agencies and unions to inform our work. We monitor gender data in the annual Public Service Workforce Data Collection to assess progress across the system.

"It was great to learn my pay had been corrected, as a reflection of the value Corrections had for me as an employee, as well as to make sure my pay lined up with others who had been in similar roles for similar amounts of time."

Leisa Adsett, Principal Advisor, Corrections

The Gender Pay Gap Action Plan

The Public Service Gender Pay Gap Action Plan 2018–2020 l Te Mahere Mahi Rerekētanga Ira Tangata (the Action Plan) was launched in July 2018, following agreement by Government, Public Service chief executives and the Public Service Association. The Action Plan covers 34 agencies with over 52,000 employees.

The focus is on addressing the major drivers of organisational gender pay gaps, based on evidence about what employers can do in their own organisations. The four focus areas of the Action Plan are:

  • Equal pay
  • Flexible work by default
  • Reducing gender bias and discrimination
  • Gender-balanced leadership

Each focus area has specific milestones and timelines. 

The Action Plan is part of a suite of actions to address the drivers of the gender pay gap, including pay equity and the Gender Pay Principles.

[1] See Public Service Gender Pay Gap

[2] See Public Service Workforce Data, Drill down data cubes On this page, you can select agency, gender pay gap, and year.

[3] This guidance was developed by StatsNZ, the Ministry for Women and the State Services Commission.

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