Having direct experience makes you better at it – who knew?

Business leaders who are most concerned about the gender pay gap normally have daughters, Women’s Minister Paula Bennett says.

Bennett today released guidance for companies about how they can close the gender pay gap, and in a speech criticised large companies that had declined to speak to the Ministry for Women about the problem.

Despite saying she found it “appalling” that New Zealand hadn’t made better progress Bennett said she didn’t see the need for legislation similar to that recently passed in Australia to make large companies publicly report on their pay gap.

Bennett said the Government would keep an eye on how that change worked in Australia, but she was heartened by the efforts being made by some companies here.

The male CEOs most keen to address the problem usually had something in common, she said.

“The men do want to talk to me about their workplaces and what they can be doing … the biggest champions have always got daughters. I always say to them, ‘Ah – you’ve got teenage girls’. And they go, ‘Yeah’.

“Because you sit there and look at your daughters and sons and wonder why it is that their sons are more likely to end up in senior management roles than their daughters, purely based on gender.”

New Zealand’s national gender pay gap is 12 per cent.

The gender pay gap has been fairly well debunked as originating from life and career choices. ? But what pricked up my ears here is that it is acknowledged that CEOs with daughters have a heightened awareness about pay equity.

Not too long ago, when I suggested that Jacinda Ardern was not a good choice to be a champion for children, as she is so far as childless as her mentor Helen Clark, I receive more than the usual push-back, even from my normally supportive readers.

So which way is it? ?Does having experience and a direct stake in an aspect of life make you a better ambassador for it? ?In general, I would have thought so.

Ardern wants to be a Minister of Children. ?As a woman Labour MP with the least amount of life experience and no children of her own, that’s as much of a stretch as Robbo wanting to be Finance Minister.

I’m not saying Jacinda or Helen are incapable of having genuine empathy towards children. ?What I am saying is that they lack the experiential basis for such empathy to be deep and meaningful.

Yet, as this article suggests with the gender wage gap and male CEOs, people with skin in the game are more likely to have a better appreciation of a given situation.


– NZ Herald