While I think they’re making things go disastrously wrong in terms of pay equity, I have a small amount of sympathy for National on Women’s Affairs. Not because they’re any good on women’s rights, (oh, they realise that they’re important, hence the $2 million funding increase for the Ministry of Women’s Affairs) but because Pansy Wong is at least correct when she says that National presided over a large catchup in the pay gap for women when they were last in Government.
But I don’t thing they can claim all the credit for that- their women’s policy at the time was essentially: “Okay, let’s outlaw blatant discrimination, then hope it gets better without looking at any of the tricky stuff.” And it did, because women were still moving towards becoming more professional, more educated, and businesses were moving towards taking advantage of that fact, and to their credit, the Equal Pay Act facilitated this process. But the transition towards a dual-gendered workface is now largely over; there is still improvement to be made stamping out pockets of gormless misogyny in say, the I.T. sector. But that doesn’t mean National can expect to cancel everything that’s going on in the MoW’sA, start doing things their way, and expect that to save them money and get better outcomes for women. Sometimes it’s actually more productive to maintain operational continuity.
Especially seeing the biggest thing on the horizon was that the government was going to try and lead the way by doing better about its own pay problems. Pansy Wong is going to look very embarrassed if one of the opposition MPs works out that they can just attack her on why the government doesn’t just pay women an equal amount itself if it’s so committed to pay equity.
I can tell National realise this is going to be important, I just don’t get how they think that sitting back and “not fucking things up” like they did after passing the EPA will be enough. That last twelve percent is full of tricky little problems, like unequal promotion and bonuses, relative over-qualification of women in any given position when compared with men’s qualifications, and business practices unfriendly to flexible work hours and parental leave. None of these have “fire and forget” fixes that National can use, and I get the impression they’re way over the heads in this.