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An executive pay survey, conducted by the NZ Herald, has revealed there are no women at the helm of New Zealand’s top 50 businesses, proving that the glass ceiling is still well in place.
Theresa Gattung, who was the first woman CEO of a large New Zealand public company—Telecom, told Radio New Zealand she was “gobsmacked” that in 2016 there were no female CEOs in the top 50 companies.
“Models of leadership tend to be male, it’s harder to get there [for women], it’s harder to stay there, and the penalties for failure or only perceived failure are higher for women.”
She added, “there’s always—in both business and politics—a much narrower range of attributions and styles are acceptable for women. If you’re too tough you’re a bitch, if you’re not tough enough you’re too soft, and yet we have to be authentic otherwise what we say doesn’t ring true.”
The survey also revealed growing inequalities between workers and CEOs. CEOs from New Zealand’s largest listed companies had an average pay increase of 12 percent in 2015 compared to 3.2 percent for employees, which means CEOs now earn 40 times the average person.
The average remuneration (including salary and bonuses) received by the heads of big public firms surged 12 per cent in 2015 to $1.68 million. This is a percentage increase three times more than the average worker last year.
The average CEO remuneration increase was $180,000, while the biggest total salary earned was by Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings at $4.49 million.
The average pay increase for employees was $988, and the average salary was $57,000.
The NZ Council of Trade Unions (CTU) criticised the disparity between the pay rises of company bosses and their workers, as it highlights the wealth imbalance in society.
CTU president Richard Wagstaff said, “we’ve had large companies for a long time. They haven’t always had this kind of disproportionate pay being given to the top while thousands and thousands of people are under the living wage in this country.”
Wagstaff continued, “these people are earning something like 40 times your average person. They’re not doing 40 times the work or adding 40 times the value.”
“Everyone does a valuable job. All jobs, if they’re not done, can bring the organisation to a halt.”