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Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters



Safeguard Magazine

Proof: men earn more

The pay gap between men and women working in OHS in New Zealand is revealed in this analysis by PETER BATEMAN.

Data from the record number of respondents in this year’s annual Safeguard salary survey has helped quant if y what everyone has long suspected: men working as health and safety practitioners earn a significantly greater income than women in the same role.

Last year’s survey revealed an overall income difference of around $4000, with men earning a median of $75,000 and women $71,100. This year we sought more detail, asking people to specify their base income and then any additional allowances.

The median base income for men this year is $79,160 compared to $69,490 for women – a gap of nearly $10,000. However most occupational health nurses are women, so to get a better apples-with-apples comparison we drilled a little deeper by looking only at those 184 respondents who described themselves as health and safety practitioners.

The result is unequivocal: male OHS practitioners had a median base income of $80,310 compared to $69,750 for their female equivalents. Looking more deeply, part of the explanation is that female respondents were rather younger: 10.1% of them were under 30 compared to only 1% of men. However, despite that, there was not much of a difference in the number of years in OHS roles, and female respondents were slightly better qualified: 26.6% of them had a postgraduate diploma, for instance, compared to only 11% of the men.

A new question this year reveals that just over half the respondents would contemplate studying for an MBA which included an OHS component, which may indicate a path for people who feel trapped in their OHS role to broaden the scope of their appeal.

This year for the first time we asked in which country respondents first studied or worked in the OHS field. Predictably the vast majority said New Zealand, but nearly 10% originated in the UK or Ireland, with some from Australia, South Africa and elsewhere.

In terms of professional bodies, it is distressing to find that fully one-third of respondents do not belong to any of them. Given that respondents to the survey are likely to be among the more engaged in their role, it is clear that the various bodies face a major challenge to make themselves more attractive to potential members.

Another new question asked if respondents had been made redundant from an OHS role in the last couple of years: 17 people had been. The implications of this are discussed in John Riddell’s story on page 34.

On a more cheerful note, the vast majority of respondents expect to still be working in the OHS field five years from now, which must constitute a vote of confidence in what is still seen – despite grumbles about low pay and limited career opportunities – as a very worthwhile and rewarding field in which to work.

Many respondents took the opportunity to write narratives about the OHS profession. An edited selection of these remarks is available on the Safeguard website. I’d like to thank everyone who took part in this year’s survey. If you have any suggestions to improve the questions to provide more useful information then please let me know.

A full anonymised dataset – with all text responses stripped off – is available for $45 + GST for those who wish to drill a little deeper.

Orders to service@thomsonreuters.co.nzor phone 0800 10 60 60. Ask for the Safeguard Salary Survey.

PETER BATEMAN

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