He tangata, he tangata, he tangata (It is people, it is people, it is people)
The above Māori proverb highlights the importance of people, and it’s the people who make the difference between a good and a great work place. This was especially the case for women (34 per cent). For them, ‘people’ meant being part of a like-minded team, having a supportive boss and senior staff who looked out for their people. Being trusted to work from home was another positive for women. But the message is “thanks for the flexibility, but don’t forget the money”. Pay and workload were by far the worst aspects of the workplace, according to respondents.
Future and advancement:
Stable, but willing to switch to get ahead
Is everybody happy at work? Just under half (49 per cent) said ‘yes’ and expected to stay in their job for the next two years. Māori women at 47 per cent were less satisfied than their brothers at 63 per cent. Of those expecting to make a switch, 39 per cent will do so for better pay, 18 per cent for development opportunities.
But do they think making the switch will be easy? Māori women, at 30 per cent, are not as optimistic as Māori men, at 51 per cent. Around a third of our respondents felt it was hard to advance in their current role, but 41 per cent of Māori, 33 per cent of Pasifika and 25 per cent of Asian respondents said advancement is reasonably easy.
Barriers to advancement:
Structure, support, but also conflicting priorities
“Business structure” was the most cited barrier to advancement, alongside lack of management support for development opportunities. Younger respondents looked for more workplace support. But the need to prioritise their families was often cited by Māori and Pasifika respondents as a barrier. Some women felt the biggest barrier was attitude, as their upbringing had not set them up to aim high – or have a clear direction for their future.
Help to get ahead:
Support and funding
What do women want? Equal pay and more opportunities. Also cost-of-living support or funding for courses and professional development. Many spoke of the inevitable tensions between time, money and family responsibilities when it came to professional development. Initiatives like paid study leave would help. There was strong support for basic financial literacy programmes and for accessible role models or mentors to provide support.
More diversity, less discrimination
Employers who recognise and support cultural diversity in the workplace received a big tick from half of those surveyed. But a fifth of Pasifika and Asian respondents felt more could be done. Exposing people to different cultures leads to better understanding and a richer, more harmonious workplace. But this needs to be embraced across the company and reflected by more diversity and inclusion. A morning tea to celebrate Lunar New Year won’t cut it.
While Māori and Pasifika workers see their culture as a strength, Asian respondents were more likely to see it as a weakness. 16 per cent reported experiencing cultural discrimination or racism in their current workplace, with Māori, Pasifika and Asian respondents more likely to have experienced it.
Meritocracy rules – sort of. Our findings showed mixed views on the question, “If two candidates for promotion were equivalent in all ways, but one was of an ethnic group typically under-represented at more senior levels in a company, should their ethnicity be grounds for favouring them over the other candidate for promotion?”
While 69 per cent of women and 66 per cent of men said no, Māori (22 per cent), Pasifika (23 per cent) and Asian respondents (21 per cent) were more supportive. Younger respondents were more likely to respond ‘yes’. But the women in our focus groups were wary of setting quotas by ethnicity, saying this approach could cause resentment.
So while more needs to be done, the research helps inform us of what we need to ensure that New Zealand women win.
Antonia Watson is ANZ New Zealand CEO