Perceptions of unfair barriers to career progression persist in New Zealand workplaces

Almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of New Zealand professionals feel that their chances for career progression have been limited at one or more points during their career because of their sexual orientation, ethnicity, age, gender or a disability, according to a survey by recruiting experts Hays.

This figure was higher for respondents living with a disclosed disability (83 per cent), women (77 per cent) and people who identify as LGBTIQ+ (67 per cent).

The recruiter surveyed over 1,000 working professionals across New Zealand and Australia as part of its 2018-19 Diversity & Inclusion Report to identify key diversity and inclusion considerations.

Hays also found that half (51 per cent) of all survey respondents said career development conversations with their line manager are open and transparent.  This figure drops to 48 per cent of women (compared to 55 per cent of men), 47 per cent of mature-age people and 37 per cent of people living with a disclosed disability.

In other key findings, 40 per cent of all survey respondents believe they are more likely to be promoted if they have a similar socio-economic background to the organisation’s management.

Half (50 per cent) of survey respondents said their leaders have a bias towards those who look, think or act like them. People living with a disclosed disability are the most likely to believe this bias exists (66 per cent).

Furthermore, 56 per cent of all respondents said there had been an occasion where they felt that their chance of being accepted for a job was lowered because of their sexual orientation, ethnicity, age, gender or disability. This figure was even higher among respondents living with a disclosed disability (83 per cent) and those who identify as LGBTIQ+ (65 per cent).

“Our survey shows that perceptions of unfair barriers to career progression persist in New Zealand workplaces,” said Adam Shapley, Managing Director of Hays in New Zealand.

“Most organisations would be quick to refute any suggestion that their employees’ progression is limited due to gender, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, disability or socio-economic background. However, they should be aware that these perceptions do exist amongst the wider employee population.

“Employees should feel confident to express this sentiment, and there should be a process in place for any feedback to be responded to and acted upon where appropriate,” he said.

As for other strategies that can help to facilitate the even handed career progression of traditionally underrepresented groups, Adam suggests several: “It starts with sourcing talent from the widest possible pool, acting to mitigate bias throughout the talent selection process by involving a range of diverse stakeholders when reviewing and selecting CVs, and includes diversifying your interview panel.

“Data should be used to enhance career development programs. For example, demographic diversity data (baseline workforce demographics across factors such as age, disability, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation) can highlight if there is an issue with the promotion of employees from traditionally underrepresented groups.

“Organisations should also clearly communicate their commitment to offering career progression opportunities to all, and have clearly defined progression pathways and transparent objectives. This ensures all staff are aware that their personal career progression is tied to specific aspects of their performance, which will only be assessed on merit.

“Training at managerial level is important too and should prioritise bias mitigation.”

Request your free copy of the FY 2018-19 Hays Diversity & Inclusion Report at       

Hays, the world’s leading recruiting experts in qualified, professional and skilled people.

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For further information please contact Kathryn Crowden, Senior PR & Content Manager, on +61 (0)2 8226 9820 or, or Clare Zacka, Marketing Director, on +61 (0)2 8062 6133 or

About Hays

Hays plc (the "Group") is a leading global professional recruiting group and is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The Group is the expert at recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people worldwide, being the market leader in the UK and Asia Pacific and one of the market leaders in Continental Europe and Latin America. The Group operates across the private and public sectors, dealing in permanent positions, contract roles and temporary assignments. As at 30 June 2018 the Group employed 10,978 staff operating from 257 offices in 33 markets across 20 specialisms. For the year ended 30 June 2018:

– the Group reported net fees of £1.072 billion and operating profit (pre-exceptional items) of £243.4 million;

– the Group placed around 77,000 candidates into permanent jobs and around 244,000 people into temporary assignments;

– 19% of Group net fees were generated in Australia & New Zealand, 26% in Germany, 24% in United Kingdom & Ireland and 31% in Rest of World (RoW);

– the temporary placement business represented 58% of net fees and the permanent placement business represented 42% of net fees;

– Hays operates in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Chile, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, the UK and the USA.