Goldman Sachs' report suggests increasing women's workforce participation could boost GDP by 10%

Goldman Sachs' report suggests increasing women's workforce participation could boost GDP by 10%
NZ women could add flex to the economy by 10%

By Amanda Morrall

Could New Zealand women hold the key to solving the country's economic woes?

In and of themselves probably not but according to a new report by Goldman Sachs, they could do a hell of a lot to help.

In its report, "Closing the Gender Gap: Plenty of Potential Economic Update,'' the investment bank predicts that by increasing women's active participation in the workforce, New Zealand's GDP could be jacked up by a whopping 10%.

In this slow to no growth era, compounded by earthquakes, Government bail-outs all over the show, talk of a triple dip world-wide recession and market tumult, 10% is nothing short of miraculous and should have Kiwi politicians and policy makers  spring into action.

And they have, to some extent.

Women's Affairs Minister Hekia Parata, in a press release reacting to the report, suggested Goldman Sachs' recommendations were in line with Government efforts to increase the participation of more women in the workforce.

"To be more competitive as a country, we need to be able to better use women's skills and education,'' she said.

Goldman Sachs economist Philip Borkin said while rising female employment rates have boosted New Zealand's economic activity by 30% since the 1970s, further value was achievable.

"Our estimates show that closing the gap in male and female employment rates in New Zealand would boost the level of GDP by 10%. Unlocking a pool of highly educated labour in conjunction with a lift in female productivity performance could lift the economy's speed limit before capacity constraints are reached."

Borkin said any steps taken in this regard could have a supercharging effect given that the country is about to embark on a massive reconstruction effort as a result of the Christchurch earthquakes.

Potential 11% rise for Australia

The investment bank, in a report tailored to Australia, suggested the country could lift its GDP by 11% through a smarter use of women its in the workforce.

Parata said policy makers there have taken the advice to heart.

"As a result dramatic change is underway.''

In just one year, new appointments of women on the boards of 200 companies listed on the ASX increased by 600%.

Parata, who has been watching the situation in Australia with interest, said the changes were "largely driven by male business leaders who are building gender equality into the strategies of their companies'' because they considered it a value add to their brand.

She said major companies there have set measurable targets for the advancement of women into senior management and board roles.

Parata said business in New Zealand should look at following suit, so that  the country didn't miss out the economic benefits that higher participation brings.

Borkin said while New Zealand's track record was better than most in respect of human rights and gender equality, there was "room for improvement" given the number of discrepancies that existed between the sexes.

On average, female employees in New Zealand are paid 83% of males on a full-time equivalent basis.

Borkin said there was not a single industry where females earned more than their male counterparts on average.

Key Recommendations

Incentivise females to enter non-traditional employment sectors: Introduce incentives for  highly educated females to seek careers in areas of the economy outside of their “traditional”  non-cyclical sectors such as education, health and support services. 

Ensure a high level of labour mobility: Mobility at both the regional and sectoral levels will  become more important given the considerable amount of resources that earthquake  reconstruction will absorb.  The possibility of broadening the Modern Apprenticeship scheme or  other on the job training initiatives may assist.

Address impediments for females entering the workforce:  Looking at the availability and cost  of childcare and the high effective marginal tax rates for some females on welfare, particularly  second income earners.

Analysing the Scandinavian experience:  Given the success of the Scandinavian countries in female workforce participation, assessing whether there are policy synergies that could be  adopted in a NZ framework, particularly around the level of childcare support. Any additional cost could possibly be funded out of the introduction of means testing for childcare support.

Ensuring further progress for women in leadership roles in New Zealand: An analysis should be completed on whether specific quotas or targets should be introduced or whether New  Zealand follows the approach of the ASX and introduces increased disclosure requirements. Research has shown that increased female representation can lead to better decision making at the  board and executive level and increased visibility of senior women will likely have the flow on effect of lifting female workforce participation.

Key Facts

New Zealand:

·         Women hold only 9.3 percent of top roles on NZX top 100 companies

·         Women hold less than 20 percent of senior management roles in those companies.

·         57 of the top 100 companies have no women directors.

·         Participation has increased slowly; from 5.1 percent in 2003 to 9.3 percent in 2010.

·         The gender pay gap is 10.6 percent.


·         Women hold 12.5 percent of board roles on ASX200 companies.

·         79 of the top 200 companies have no women directors

·         Participation has increased rapidly; from 8.3 percent in 2010 to 12.5 percent now.

·         31 percent of new appointments to ASX200 boards have been women in 2011.

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current comment policy is here.


Breaking up or even better eliminating Goldman Sacs and their ilk would go a long way to solving all the worlds financial problems.  How much have they made out of this latest little debacle, and what part did they play in faning the flames that precipated it?

Isn't it great that Goldmans out of the goodness in their heart created this document and circulated it to all media to get their name in the paper associated with something other than greed, corruption and lies for a change. This is part of a PR softening up exercise pure and simple. The instruction from head office will have been sent out demanding reports and research on social issues and now we have one of our own. It will be a cut and paste of the Australian one and probably several others, no doubt ghost written by their PR agency

Goldmans is dominated by Male employees Wiki lists 20 senior manager and directors 3 of whom are women. so higher than 1 in 10.

It is also subject to a class action:

Factual Allegations

Goldman Sachs is a global investment banking, securities and investment management firm, which generated $45 billion in revenue in 2009. The complaint charges that Goldman Sachs has distributed the benefits of its enormous success unequally – systematically favoring male Associates, Vice Presidents, and Managing Directors at the expense of their female counterparts. The alleged sex discrimination includes:

  1. At nearly all levels of its professional ranks, Goldman Sachs has paid its female professionals less than similarly situated male professionals, even though they hold equivalent positions and perform the same or substantially similar work;
  2. Goldman Sachs maintains policies and practices for promoting its employees that result in the disproportionate promotion of men over equally or more qualified women. As a result, female professionals have been systematically denied promotion opportunities that are routinely afforded to their male counterparts.
  3. Goldman Sachs gives its managers, the overwhelming majority of whom are men, unchecked discretion to assign responsibilities, accounts, and projects to their subordinates. The end result is that managers most often assign the most lucrative and promising opportunities to male employees.
  4. Goldman Sachs grants its managers unbridled discretion to allocate resources among their employees, including but not limited to administrative support, training opportunities, and informal mentoring. In practice, Goldman Sachs managers exercise this discretion in a way that provides disproportionately greater resources to their male subordinates than their female subordinates.
  5. Goldman Sachs' system for evaluating employees' performance systematically discriminates against female professionals by permitting unacceptable levels of subjectivity and bias that result in the undervaluation of female employees' performance.

Brutal! Perhaps Goldman Sachs NZ can put itself forward as a model starting with a sr. management restructuring. 

Woman down the road said to me that she doesn't care how bad the economy gets as, "shes sitting on a gold mine" 

literally speaking

Firing all bureaucrats, banning all social media and closing down all websites that allow "comments" would hugely boost productivity too!

Personally, I found this report interesting. I am the only female in my office. Granted, we are only 10 but the only women I see during the week are those jogging with dogs past my office while the kids are at school. And further Goldman Sachs (however reviled) makes a good point when it says we need to investigate career choices made by girls. Our intern informed me that of her fellow journalism students, none were interested in pursuing jobs in business reporting or politics. They expressed an interest only in fashion. 

Time to move past the snipes against Goldman and have some real debate. It's too bad more women don't visit our website as I'd love to know what they think.  

I wrote a piece in my previous life in favour of more women in management and on the boards of major companies. It attracted some interesting comments -

Great article Gareth! I have made similar observations. When I meet a successful female in a position of power, I am always intrigued to hear how they busted through all the glass ceilings in this country. That's not to minimise the importance of being a mother, I am one and love it but let's face it, we're invisible at high levels.  It's a problem we have to solve jointly, instead of the usual gender divide this subject provokes.


1 in 10 doesn't sound too bad Amanda. In my own career (software R&D) the ratio has been 1 in 10 to 1 in 50 while I was an employee (in the R&D department excluding admin & similar). The few times that I had the opportunity to compare pay packages with my (male) colleagues, it turned out I was paid more for a same level of experience. Same when comparing with my husband who does the same job & has the same level of experience. I must be good at negotiating (and having half a dozen offers each time certainly helps)!

I am not convinced that more women in the workforce would help with the economy though. The unemployment rate is going up and the youth unemployment rate is through the roof so I'm not sure who would supply the jobs if more women went into paid employment and how this wouldn't exacerbate the problem?

As a mum, I don't know about encouraging women to leave their young children in childcare more. In France it's normal to go back to work after maternity leave finishes (typically 10 weeks post-birth) and many women go back full-time, leaving young babies in childcare/with nannies from 7am to 7pm. I couldn't do that. Call me old-fashioned but I think little ones need to have their mum around. And since employers just don't offer enough flexibility and make it really hard to both work & do a good parenting job we've worked around the problem by setting up our own company and working from home. It's nice to be the boss and as a result, not to have to feel guilty asking for permission to stay home when one of the kids is sick. They get to have both their parents at home most of the time, and we get to have good careers and a very flexible lifestyle "despite" them (even if it often means working late nights!).

Regarding choice of career, even my dad told me to choose something else because "being an engineer wasn't going to be suitable once I had a family" (I have since proved him wrong - most other "traditional" women's jobs wouldn't have allowed me to have the flexibility I currently have).

Great post Elley and it backs up my thoughts and observations.

I have previously been in a position to deal with the fallout of kids bought up by people other than their parents. I made the sacrifice to ensure my kids had mum at home and don't regret  it. The wheels fell off the relationship when she insisted on going back to work.

I think the stats on pay inequity need to be disected a bit better, I have my doubts as you do.

Lastly it is hard to fight biology I guess.

I have to say my first job that had a reasonable percentage of women was a breath of fresh air,  Amanda must find it tough.

Amanda your last statement is worthy of debate in itself:

 It's too bad more women don't visit our website as I'd love to know what they think.   

Why? Maybe because generally speaking men and women are wired very differently. We've often got very different priorities and life objectives, different interests, I'm sure explained by both nature (biological) and nurture (social). Perhaps males are generally wired to the type of intense and sometimes agressive debate that occurs herein - perhaps females generally aren't?  

And I'm sure some of the reasons as to why women generally don't participate in this website are also reasons why there aren't many women in senior executive positions. Sure, we can blame sexism and barriers etc., and yes I think that is ONE factor. But I think its much more than that. 

Food for thought?

Hmmm, yes, a very interesting debate indeed. Stereotypes only go so far in explaining this. As with most things, it's multi-factoral I guess. I have some female professional friends who are waaay more aggressive and ambitious than any of the men I know. Of course, these women scare the hell of out most, brains, financial independence. Men don't know how to treat em'. One of em has a house husband, so it's a total reversal and it works out just fine. His mates envy the heck of him. So I don't buy the biological thing, entirely.

Social conditioning plays a big part. Girls, generally speaking, are still raised on Barbies and Disney fairytales about princes that will save them.  What a load of poo. Reality is a bitter pill to swallow, and the statistics bear this out. 

As to why more women don't come to our website, that probably has something to do with the lack of a female perspective. I'm trying to change that.

Those women that do read our site, and make it known through their comments, usually make a lot of sense (Elly is one of them). I think more of them would comment but toxicity levels are high here sometimes. 

In an ideal world, more women could carve out this work/life/mother balance. But the structures aren't in place. I applaud NZ for introducing the flexible work arrangements act. That was hugely progressive! And I applaud employers that have yielded to that as well. The Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce was one of them. 

Anyway, too much to talk about and I have children demanding to know when their tea is. 

Read this column by Margarent Wente, one of my favourite writer's at the Globe and Mail; it sheds some light about the situation. Women don't give themselves enough credit.

Awww, come on Amanda, fairytales and prince charming stories are not always a load of poo. I loved reading these stories when I was a kid, with me in the role of the lucky princess of course :) And they do happen (yes, I'm very lucky but I'm sure the vast majority of men are very decent).

But I agree that sadly, statistics aren't very rosy these days (not necessarily the men's fault though, and dare I say it, maybe partly due to women's independance/changing roles).

Hey there is nothing wrong with being interested in fashion and gossip etc ... it means that women are more interested in 'the human condition' whether superficially or in some depth. This is a very important attribute in the Corporate world.  But it is not recognised.

Agree with what you say about sterotypes and social conditioning, but people can be re-programmed if they want to be.

Not sure that it is lack of female perspective on here that keeps women away ... Personally I just find the subject matter very difficult to get my head around, but I read it because it is important, and because one day I will 'get it".

Agree with Elly that we may not need more people in the workforce right now ... but there are still a lot of jobs being advertised (take a look at Seek).   The Flexible Work Arrangements Act is just a start ... we need more employers to embrace job sharing and part time work ... between the hours of 9.30 and 2.30, or after 6pm, or work from home options.   Would that not suit women with school age kids?   This might have the additional benefit of busting the numbers on the DPB.


It would be interesting to see if the sexes are differentiated in Malsow's Hierarchy of needs.

Amanda, my comments were a little tongue in cheek, but personally I feel that there are lots of ways to encourage employment and increase productivity.

Having worked at a multi-national financial services corporate, I know first-hand how unproductive a lot of employees are!  My experience dealing with local government etc demonstrates the same.  Much like an episode of the 80s kiwi classic "Gliding On".

The main problem is grumpy and bitter entrenched employees intent on doing the minimum amount of work for the minimum amount of effort.

Because most corporate employees are white middle aged males who have continuously worked in similar roles since graduating with a modest tertiary qualification, they believe employing the same is the "best fit" for the firm.

The better solution would be to clear out the deadwood and employ based on ability rather than corporate servitude. 

A clear test is to see how many corporate managers would actually survive running their own business.  Sadly I think the answer is very few.

If you take the reverse of that, I think you would find a lot of small business owners would make excellent corporate managers.

If appointments were made more on the basis of ability rather than just length of service or examination of a CV then I think that there would not only be more woman in corporate positions but better candidates in general.

Giving someone a 90 day trial to prove themselves at a new firm seems a far better option than having one dud employee picking another dud.  It never ceases to amaze me how persons in higher positions often lack basic skills like spelling and grammar (excuse any typos in my non-proofread rants though!), even basic maths at financial firms, or just a general lack of knowledge of their industry.

If we cut out all the tired old overpaid fat out of business and saved their over-compensating six figure compensations, productivity would soar!

The only problem is that a dud employee wouldn't be able to tell the difference between tired old overpaid fat and wise old valuable experience!

"The main problem is grumpy and bitter entrenched employees intent on doing the minimum amount of work for the minimum amount of effort."

Yep, you hit the nail on the head here. Make the work interesting, and engaging, you'll get people (men and women) working harder, being more productive and staying in their jobs for longer...

My neighbour said she once had some middle manager make her file a report, accounting for every 15 minutes of her time. Naturally, she didn't stay long.

Goldman Sachs Is Accused of Gender Bias -

15 Sep 2010 – Three former female employees at Goldman Sachs sued the ... “The number of women in management positions at Goldman dwindles as the level of ...

I think the high costs of daycare are a BIG factor. A key reason why my wife hasn't gone back to work is that a big chunk of her salary would be eaten up by daycare costs. We wouldn't be much better off financially, and we'd have a whole lot of extra stress. We have several friends in the same boat 

Elley said

In France it's normal to go back to work after maternity leave finishes (typically 10 weeks post-birth) and many women go back full-time, leaving young babies in childcare/with nannies from 7am to 7pm. I couldn't do that. Call me old-fashioned but I think little ones need to have their mum around. 

We are totally of the same view. I personally think it is abhorent to ship a young baby off to daycare 40 hours plus per week. I also personally think they need their mum around in the first couple of years at least.  I DO realise that some people don't have a choice in this, financially speaking, and some do have a choice - and that's their right (even though I don't agree with it)


I personally think that the reference to needing their mum around is stereotypical.  I believe that it should be either mum or dad.  I wish I could've been the stay at home parent, fact of the matter is I had the higher paying job.  Agree that financially it isn't always possible though.

I also believe the difference between genders is generally biological.  There will be a few outliers though as there is in any statistical measurement.  I recomend a book "Why men don't listen and women can't read maps".  it's very enlightening if you keep an open mind.

Of course it shouldn't matter whether we increase participation of either men or women.  If we can provide the jobs and encourage any of the unemployed into the workforce GDP will be improved.

 Could New Zealand women hold the key to solving the country's economic woes?

Absolutely – in my opinion women of this country have more stamina, are in general more reliable, responsible and a pleasure to work with. Male quite often have stupid periods.

I was wondering about some particular skills that a sizeable chunk of our female population have, and how they would fit into the work place. You know skills like lying around on the sofa all day watching soap operas.

Said in jest, but it happens.

I was wondering about some particular skills that a sizeable chunk of our male population have, and how they would fit into the work place. You know skills like lying around on the sofa all night watching rugby while drinking beer.

Said in jest, but it happens.

Couldn't help myself ;)

Haha very good.

I must admit I have lost my enthusiasm for Rugby in recent years. I can't recall the last time I sat down and watched a game. Perhaps years of kids netball, rugby and soccer is a factor.

It is not just rugby though, but television in general. A total waste of time generally.

Now beer is another story altogether:)

I started all grain brewing this year and have found it rather addictive. I guess if you make it you have to drink it:)

But it is quite different to the pigs swill available from the likes of DB, a bit like cask wine versus a $50 chardonnay.

Amanda, the comments from your intern that you mentioned above are most relevant here ... that her fellow female journalism students are not interested in business or politics, only fashion. That tells us something about why there aren't more women in important positions in the economy, but also why there is high unemployment among youth more generally. 

The reality is, the world doesn't need that many fashion journalists (no disrespect, but it probably doesn't need that many journalists period). Likewise, how many young men aspire to sports or entertainment stardom, when only a tiny tiny percentage will ever be able to make a living at these things. 

I suppose you can't blame the kids, because this is what they are sold in the media with the cult of celebrity. But they need to know that there are rich and rewarding careers in fields that they probably don't even know exist. But they all require high skills, something too many young people are not equipping themselves with.

Percentage of CEOs and company directors is a dumb metric as those occupations make up such a tiny percentage of the total population.

A more interesting question is why people tend to be less well paid in areas where women are well represented; e.g. health, science, and education.

I think our problem isn't about lack of a labour force, more a huge part of it are doing little that is genuinely productive - personnel trainers, dog groomers, bankers - you know, that sort of thing.

From the Goldman report, females are 50.9% of the population and 46.9% of the workforce. Given that a significant number have small children and that there are many more elderly (retired) women than men, just where is this 10% increase supposed to come from? 

More working great grannies? More kids dumped at the day care?

There's no denying that the increase in female participation over the past thirty years has lifted household incomes and GDP but there is a limit. Do we need more GDP if it means the quality of life and the raising of our kids goes down?

What's next Goldman? Perhaps, instead of our kids dicking around going to school and stuff, we could get them into the workplace as well, their workforce participation rates are pathetic. 

I've got a better idea, how about the parasites in the financial sector did something useful for a change - get them on the end of a shovel to help rebuild christchuch.

I would be one of the women referred to.  I found it got harder to work as the kids got older.  They are now involved in sports and cultural activities and are very busy.  We are fortunate that my husband has a good job and is able to support us, and we live in a cheaper regional town.  This year I will be away for 17 days with a rep sports team plus preparation, several weeks helping with exams at a high school and loads of  fundraising.  Who will fill these voluntary positions if all the mothers are back working full tme? Schools struggle now to get parent support for activities and sports.

My sister in-law is an Oncologist, she has 4 young children and as you could imagine is quite busy. If you want her lifestyle go for it, knock yourself out, careful what you wish for.

 Her husband is CEO of a large company and has to work about 20 hours a day, people call them rich, we borrow the various holiday homes and Chalet in Aspen for friggin free.

This is a Hoot...

Plane Jane Goes Out With A Bang


David Fisher is never a man to let someone walk out a door, he has to be the last one to slam it in their nose. He's had a go at ACT this past couple of weeks, but we should not take that personally, wait until he gets a hold of the Mana Party and Green Party lists.

Anyway Fisher topped off an excellent job on Plane Jane Diplock by OIA'ing her last lot of expenses. Among the highlights:

$420,000 travel bill
Free Sky TV for staff at $135 a month
$12,000 on massages
$1,700 regularly on wine

For heaven's sake even the private sector doesn't allow you to expense claim massages!!

I feel very much a part of outing this woman of International Mystery for her internationally acclaimed title "Plane Jane" originated from this blog. The name stuck and spread like her legacy of extravagance in an era where poorly regulated Finance Companies ran rampant.

When I first saw Diplock in person I had a deep uneasy feeling that she was like many women in business, superb at one thing - spending other people's money. New Zealand has a long history of promoting women in business who are exceptional at it. And you can tell this by what they wear.

Way back in December 2005 I wrote a column titled "Death to the Suit" noting my aversion to them. Since then and even before I have noted a trend for high profile New Zealand women to shun the standard and in my view solely acceptable black and dark blue for colourful suiting that really encourages only for you to hand filing to the wearers and ask them to refill your coffee or water. Let me take the following exhibits

Michelle Boag

Hekia Parata

And undoubtedly two of the most expensive women in New Zealand to hire:

In my time dealing with New Zealand women there is a definite statistical relationship between how bright they dress and how much money they cost to run.

The NZX has come up with yet another batshit crazy idea to introduce mandatory reporting of women on Boards. Because you know, Australia does it so should New Zealand. It is an embarrassingly daft idea. Quotas are an embarrassment to the gender and all that happens is that loudly dressed self-promoters like Chen and Diplock end up as token pussy appointments on Boards. Then we have the inevitable, ethnic and underachieving class quotas on company Boards. One only has to see the token Maori head-nodders on government boards to see how counter-productive quotas are. That Parata as Womens Affairs minister is actually considering it says more about her appointment as a token Minister when Amy Adams should by rights have been promoted over her.

I always maintain if you are good enough you will achieve what you want regardless. Quotas just help below average people do better. And in doing so undermine those who are of the same group who are good enough to achieve on their own merit.

There is absolutely no danger if they are in positions of private sector work as they buyer can beware. But such women as Chen and Diplock should never be allowed near the public purse.

Only this week Mai Chen was leading the charge on behalf of Exide to sue the New Zealand government. Wait til Exide get the bill for that one.

This ability to dress brightly also seems to exhibit an inverse relationship in terms of competence for the job, as if the coloured suit is meant to blind everyone to incoming incompetence and free-spirited spending of other people's money. Diplock's was less than happy if we take a trip down the memory lane:

Intro in May 2009 where I first titled her "Plane Jane"
Travel Diary
Plane Jane Strikes Again
Baby Steps
O'Sullivan has a go

While New Zealand's legislation may have been inept to deal with finance companies, Plane Jane has to hold her head in shame that while she was jaunting around the world, the boys were playing and pissing in her sandpit.

If she had spent that $400k a year sitting quietly in Viaduct bars with her ears open she would have learned more about what was happening in the New Zealand finance industry than her junkets overseas which have solely promoted her in obtaining new employment once she's been given the arse card.

Once again leadership is about being there. And she wasn't

David Fisher was quite right in giving her one last kick out the door. Shame is her replacements while talking the talk have not walked the walk.

We are now up to month nine in the Mark Hotchin asset freeze and STILL there have been no charges laid by the Financial Market Authority.

Babies have been born from conception in this time. And in the meantime Hotchin sits there with his assets frozen looking more innocent with every day that goes by.

Sean Hughes may have come in with a big swinging dick and cut the Plane Jane era of extravagance, but he has yet to get a result in the cases that matter.

The good news is that Diplock has used taxpayer funding to promote herself so well she is now someone else's problem having secured among other things, a number as an independent and non-executive director of the Singapore Exchange SGX. I made my concerns public to those listening on hearing this from a contact in Asia and she is up for re-election in October 2011.

My advice, among a list of links to New Zealand media and this blog was to watch the expenses.


posted by Cactus Kate at 12:22 AM 0 comments links to this post

It would be a laugh if so many of my friends hadn't lost a life time of savings, savings built by hard graft, often in difficult times with much personal sacrifice, while the regulators sat and watched living a lavish life on the taxpayer.

 I sometimes feel concrete boots would be too good for them.

Yes Aj you're right...Cathy Odgers is arguing two separate issues here, one being helping fight her mates battles in the media for them and the other which is of interest and relevant to this thread is her views on woman in high profile positions...i thought were very interesting..of which,she's probably right  

Your access to our unique content is free - always has been. But ad revenues are diving so we need your direct support.

Become a supporter

Thanks, I'm already a supporter.