At the risk of putting my career as your employment columnist in jeopardy, I would like to make my key predictions for the year ahead.
Year of the Women
All around the world the voices of women are being heard with a new resonance. I feel this upswelling will be particularly strong in the senior-level employment world, with the increased appointment of women to influential executive and board roles.
According to the Ministry for Women, 45.3 per cent of ministerial appointees to state sector boards are female. However, in the private sector, the results are not as positive. According to researchers at AUT, the proportion of New Zealand women on the boards of the top 100 companies listed on the New Zealand Stock Exchange reached 22.17 per cent in 2017 – a 2.16 per cent point increase over the previous 12 months. However, at the current rate of progress, they believe it won't be until 2030 that the gender gap in governance of the top 100 companies will close.
On a positive note, the New Zealand Institute of Directors has been working hard to promote women on boards, and I genuinely believe this year will see a significant upswing in this important business and social metric.
Gender pay parity increasing
The government and private companies will start to take wage parity seriously in 2018. This has a major precedent overseas with Iceland making it illegal to pay men more than women from January 1, 2018. Under the new rules, companies and government agencies employing at least 25 people will have to obtain government certification of their equal-pay policies, and those that don't meet the standards will start to face stiff fines.
While I sadly don't see genuine pay parity across New Zealand in the next 12 months, I believe this is the year when senior business and government leaders will start to take the lead in closing the gender pay parity gap.
Increase in telecommuting
Despite large international firms such as Yahoo bringing back their workers in-house a number of years ago, I believe the overall trend of talented staff working from home or an alternative worksite will increase. With increased house prices forcing many talented professionals away from the cities, those companies that can offer the ability to telecommute, will have the opportunity to employ top team members who want more flexibility in their lives. My business CV.CO.NZ, for example, employs seven team members based in Oamaru, Tauranga, Waiuku and Auckland city, all working from home-based offices.
More flexibility in work styles
In line with a more flexible work environment, alternative work options such as contracting, flexi-time and job-sharing, I believe, will all increase. Many of my younger clients are continuing to choose contracting and consulting as a full-time career, rather than seeing this as something you do in-between jobs. More flexibility, higher hourly pay and an ongoing series of shorter diverse challenges in their career will ensure permanent contracting as an option for talented professionals will continue to grow.