New Zealand ranks fourth in female economic empowerment among OECD countries



  • The rankings for the top 12 countries are unchanged from 2013 to 2014, with New Zealand still ranked No 4 behind Iceland, Norway and Sweden.
  • Australia continues to fall in the index rankings from 17th to 20th between 2013 and 2014, falling back to pre-2007 performance.
  • Compared to 2000, New Zealand has risen from No 8 to No 4; Australia has fallen from No 15 to No 20.  
  • New Zealand could experience a 6.7% boost to GDP if its female employment rates were to match that of Sweden’s. Of the OECD countries, Greece stands to gain the most in terms of a percentage boost to GDP from increasing female employment rate to match Sweden’s – as high as 31%.

New Zealand has a comparatively lower difference (6%) between male and female median wages, when compared to the US (17%) and the UK (18%).

Today, PwC launches its fourth Women in Work Index, which ranks 33 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on a measure that combines five key indicators of female economic empowerment: the equality of earnings with men; the proportion of women in work (both in absolute terms and relative to men); the female unemployment rate; and the proportion of women in full-time employment.

New Zealand once again ranks No 4 (at 71.7), behind Iceland (73.6), Norway (72.7) and Sweden (72.5).

Significant gains have been made across the OECD to improve female economic empowerment: more women are in work than ever before, and unemployment rates have gradually declined following 2008 global financial crisis. However, the gender pay gap remains unacceptably wide – women are still paid $83 for every $100 her male counterpart earns on average across the OECD. The gender wage gap isn’t as wide in New Zealand (6% between male and female median wages) as other developed nations.

Our workforce is growing in New Zealand, not just in numbers but also in the diversity of our people and our skill sets, says PwC New Zealand Partner and Diversity and Inclusion Leader Leo Foliaki. Businesses must adapt their models to fully harness this talent and to be competitive internationally, he continues.

“The work that we do at PwC is becoming increasingly diverse in an interconnected world economy. We are always seeking new skill sets that align to our clients’ needs, including innovation and entrepreneurship, technology and the ability to work across multiple disciplines.”

Underemployment also remains a pressing issue. In the UK alone, 1.5 million women would like to work more hours but do not have the opportunity to do so. This means that there are significant opportunities for flexible work practices to leverage the skills of women returning to the labour market more effectively. This is a particular issue for more senior positions, where there is an undersupply of flexible roles. The concentration of part-time work outside of high-level jobs increases the tendency for women to work in occupations below their skill levels.

There is a clear business case for greater flexibility, Mr Foliaki says, which is why we renewed our commitment to flexible working at PwC New Zealand last year.

“Organisations are better positioned to fully leverage the talent of all employees by ensuring that they undertake roles suited to their skills and experience. To continue enabling the success and evolution of all our people, we needed to move on from our past ways of working. Our focus now is on flexibility and equipping our people to work from any location, using any device, at a time that suits them and our clients.”


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New Zealand ranks fourth in female economic empowerment among OECD countries

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