We provide everyone with a positive work experience that enables them to be safe and well, feel a sense of belonging, and reach their potential at MSD. This includes some key focus areas.

Our values are the foundation of our people’s experience, and we build from them and live them every day.

After adopting our four values – Manaaki, Whānau, Mahi tahi, and Tika me te pono – we began to embed them through our employee lifecycle, including in recruitment, induction, development and wellbeing conversations, programmes and resources.

Some of the ways our values have been embedded and reinforced through the lifecycle include:

  • refreshing our careers site, making our values a central feature
  • updating our position description templates, embedding both the values and our public servant commitment statement
  • strengthening our induction programme to help new people joining us feel a part of our MSD whānau through an initial focus on our values – the induction programme connects our people to their role as public servants with a strong focus on what our values are and on what we do
  • Te Ara Piki, which connects development objectives with values-based behaviours.

Supporting a diverse and inclusive workplace

Being a diverse and inclusive organisation means recognising and respecting the differences between people while valuing the contribution everyone can make. We want all our people and clients to thrive and enhance their wellbeing. It is critical for our success as an organisation that we reflect the people we serve, which means acknowledging and appreciating our own diversity so that we can support our clients’ aspirations.

Our direction is in line with the vision of Te Kawa Mataaho Public Service Commission for diversity and inclusion across the public sector . The five priority areas for 2020/21 were to:

  • address bias and discrimination
  • strengthen cultural competency
  • build inclusive leadership
  • develop relationships that are responsive to diversity
  • support and engage with employee-led networks.

Narrowing the Gender Pay Gap

We continued to focus our efforts to reduce the Gender Pay Gap and increased our focus on ethnic pay gaps. The Gender Pay Gap is measured as the difference between the average salary for women and for men.

Gender Pay Gap

  • At 30 June 2019 our Gender Pay Gap was 13.1 percent
  • By 30 June 2020 this had improved to 12.2 percent
  • By June 2021 this had improved to 9.9 percent

The primary driver for the Gender Pay Gap continues to be the ongoing challenge of having a high proportion of women in lower- and mid-level roles than in senior and executive management positions. We have made progress on lifting remuneration at lower levels, where around 70 percent of our employees are women.

Actions taken in 2020/21 to reduce the Gender Pay Gap include:

  • implementing a new performance and remuneration framework for Ministry of Youth Development, National Office and Service Delivery staff
  • introducing a flexible working policy
  • designing a partnership-based mentoring programme with our women’s and Pacific networks
  • unconscious bias training and recruitment guidance to support managers to recognise and mitigate bias in the hiring process.


Most of our ethnic pay gaps are narrowing

There is evidence of ethnic pay gaps at MSD when we compare Māori to non-Māori staff, Pacific to non-Pacific staff and Asian to non-Asian staff. Māori, Pacific and Asian representation in MSD is higher than in the Public Service as a whole and in the New Zealand workforce generally. At 30 June 2021:

  • our Māori pay gap was 4.6 percent (2020: 6.0 percent)
  • our Pacific pay gap was 12.0 percent (2020: 13.4 percent)
  • our Asian pay gap was 9.1 percent (2020: 7.8 percent).

With key stakeholders, including unions, employee-led networks and our Diversity and Inclusion Steering Group, we developed a 12-month Pay Gap Action Plan for 2021/22 that represents the diverse voices of our people and helps guide our work. The action plan has a stronger focus on ethnicity, gender by ethnicity, and the actions required to reduce the pay gaps we have identified.

Gender distribution by level of seniority

N/A indicates that data is not available.

Female (percentage)

  2019 2020 2021
Executive and senior managers 49.4 49.8 51.3
Middle management 64.6 65.6 64.8
Other staff 71.3 71.1 71.1

Male (percentage)

  2019 2020 2021
Executive and senior managers 50.6 50.2 48.7
Middle management 35.4 34.4 34.7
Other staff 28.6 28.6 28.4

Gender diverse (percentage)


  2019 2020 2021
Executive and senior managers N/A <0.1 0.1
Middle management N/A <0.1 0.1
Other staff N/A 0.2 0.3

Undeclared (percentage)

  2019 2020 2021
Executive and senior managers N/A 0.0 0.0
Middle management N/A 0.0 0.1
Other staff N/A 0.1 0.1

Diversity statistics by gender – MSD compared with the public service

N/A indicates that data is not available.

Female (percentage)

  2019 2020 2021
MSD 70.4 70.5 70.4
Public Service 61.1 61.7 N/A

Male (percentage)

  2019 2020 2021
MSD 29.5 29.2 29.1
Public Service 39.9  N/A  N/A

Gender diverse (percentage)

  2019 2020 2021
MSD  N/A 0.3 0.3
Public Service  N/A  N/A  N/A

Undeclared (percentage)

  2019 2020 2021
MSD 0.1 0.3 0.1
Public Service  N/A  N/A  N/A

Ethnicity distribution of staff

Total MSD staff declaring ethnicity in 2021: 8,874.

N/A indicates that data is not available.

European (percentage)

  2019 2020 2021
MSD 61.1 60.4 59.6
Public Service 67.3 66.3 N/A

Māori (percentage)

  2019 2020 2021
MSD 23.5 24.1 24.4
Public Service 15.5 15.9 N/A

Pacific (percentage)

  2019 2020 2021
MSD 16.3 16.9 17.7
Public Service 9.2 9.7 N/A

Asian (percentage)

  2019 2020 2021
MSD 14.0 14.9 16.2
Public Service 11.1 11.6 N/A

MELAA (percentage)

  2019 2020 2021
MSD 1.3 1.5 1.6
Public Service 1.5 1.7 N/A

Developing relationships that are responsive to diversity

We remain committed to developing purposeful, positive and inclusive relationships between people leaders and employees. In 2020 we released policies on flexible working and reasonable accommodation in employment, with supporting guidance for managers and employees. Flexible working relates to where and when people work, and reasonable accommodation relates to workplace adjustments to ensure a person can participate fully and do their job. Both policies facilitate conversations about employees’ individual circumstances and needs.

Our Positive Workplace policy puts in place practice and guidelines to address inappropriate behaviours, bullying and harassment in the workplace. This includes online learning and team discussions.

Supporting employee-led networks

We have strong staff networks across the country:

  • a Women’s Network
  • a range of Pacific networks across the regions
  • a Disabled Employee Network
  • our Proud@MSD .

We recognise the significant contribution that networks make to employee wellbeing, growing communities of belonging by and for our people.

Funding allocated for employee-led networks will support activities to raise visibility of important events, celebrations and activities such as language weeks, and hui to bring network members together.

Leading the way for disabled people

As part of the Lead Toolkit programme, we became the first Public Service agency to implement a policy on reasonable accommodation, with supporting guidance for managers and employees . Reasonable accommodation relates to adjustments in the recruitment process and the workplace to ensure a person can participate fully and do their job. While the policy is a crucial enabler in the employment of disabled people, we expanded its scope to apply to anyone employed by MSD, recognising the diversity of our people and their individual circumstances. We have shared the policy and guidance across the Public Service and actively encourage other agencies to adopt their own policies through quarterly Lead Toolkit cross-agency meetings.

We have hired a full-time internship relationship manager to support disabled young people into Public Service graduate and summer internship programmes. The role is helping existing internship programmes within the Public Service to be more accessible to and inclusive of disabled people by making the application process accessible, building the disability confidence of programme managers and providing information and support on reasonable accommodation.

We are responsible for co-ordinating the all-of-government management of alternative formats – translating documents into Easy Read, New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL), Braille, audio and large print. This is done in partnership with Disabled People’s Organisations.

We were honoured by People First New Zealand as a recipient of the 2020 Make It Easy award for strong leadership in overseeing an all-of-government approach to the provision of accessible information during COVID-19.

We are responsible for the development and chairing of the all-of-government Disabled Network. Our Chief Executive is the sponsor of the Network and under Papa Pounamu has responsibility for the disability pou.

As part of implementing the Accessibility Charter , and in conjunction with the Department of Internal Affairs Te Tari Taiwhenua and the three print-disabled Disabled People’s Organisations – People First New Zealand, Deaf Aotearoa and the Association of Blind Citizens – we run a monthly training programme on digital accessibility and alternative formats . By 30 June 2021, 450 public servants had attended the training. Internally, we appointed an Accessibility Governance Team which is chaired by our DCE People and Capability and comprises all key business teams within the People and Capability Group: IT, Communications; Health and Safety; Human Resources, and Property. We also established a specialised team to undertake audits and provide internal training and advice.

Balancing family and work obligations

We are committed to supporting the wellbeing of our people and to providing them with a great place to work.

Support we provide for our people includes the Poutuarā network, professional counselling or coaching services, parental leave provisions, an ex gratia parental leave payment on return to work, flexible working arrangements, preferential re-engagement after childcare, and a range of leave options that support caring responsibilities.

We offer targeted support for employees with caring responsibilities, through the CareWise programme run by Carers NZ. This is available to anyone who cares for a friend, family, whānau or aiga member with a disability, health condition, illness or injury who needs help with everyday living, except paid professional carers or foster carers.

In December 2020 we released a new flexible working policy that was developed in line with guidance and resources from Te Kawa Mataaho Public Service Commission to enable fair and consistent flexible working practices. Because our people and the mahi they do is so diverse, flexibility is different for our people depending on their role, the team situation and their individual needs.

Championing equal employment opportunities

We are committed to the principle of equal employment opportunities (EEO), and we value having a diverse workforce, as this represents our communities better and leads  to a staffing profile within MSD that reflects the values and composition of the communities we work with. This in turn helps to improve policy development and service delivery.

For example, we:

  • recognise our commitment as a Te Tiriti o Waitangi partner
  • are committed to embedding a te ao Māori perspective into MSD, in line with Te Pae Tata
  • base appointments on merit, while recognising the employment aspirations of Māori, ethnic and minority groups, women, disabled people and Rainbow communities, ensuring fairness in employment for all people
  • purposefully recruit people who reflect and understand the diversity of Aotearoa and the communities we serve
  • develop Māori and Pacific employees’ career aspirations in line with Te Pae Tata and Pacific Prosperity
  • commit to employing disabled people and collaborating across government to increase the number of disabled people employed in the public sector
  • focus on the capabilities that underpin an openness to diversity, which applies to how we work with our clients, communities, and our own people within our workplace
  • work with other agencies to share best EEO practices, policies and procedures.

Reviewing EEO policies

We are required to review our HR policies regularly (at least every three years) to ensure they are current and remain applicable. As we review each policy, we ensure they are:

  • standardised – with the same template, sections and flow for consistency
  • in plain English – using everyday words where we can with language that is consistent
  • up to date – for example, referring to Te Kawa Mataaho instead of the State Services Commission, and the Public Service Act 2020 instead of the repealed State Sector Act 1988
  • fit for purpose – they convey all the information needed to understand a policy.

These changes will make policies consistent, easier to read, clearer and more user-friendly.

We reviewed four EEO policies this year. Three needed administrative and minor changes only, and have been approved for use – our policies on parental leave, personal grievances, and zero tolerance of fraud and misuse of client information.

The remaining EEO policy has more substantive changes, particularly the updated principles, and approval is expected during 2021/22.

Positioning our EEO policy within a wider framework

We have introduced principles to our EEO policy to support Te Tiriti o Waitangi, Te Pae Tata and Pacific Prosperity, making these principles more explicit, current and relevant. To do this we have highlighted diversity and inclusion and then aligned them all with MSD’s values.

We also added ‘gender’ to the list of grounds as this is an important part of EEO.

Investing in the wellbeing of our people

In October 2020 we adopted an organisation-wide wellbeing plan, Pā Harakeke, that is focused on improving the wellbeing of our people. We have a framework for workplace mental health and wellbeing that aims for a healthy workplace where people have a sense of purpose, feel valued, are thriving, and show compassion towards themselves and others. We have invested significant resource into supporting the wellbeing of our people, and draw on long-standing initiatives that help maintain organisational health. This includes specialist staff (including a registered psychologist) who take a strategic approach to wellbeing across the organisation.

As a part of this work programme, we facilitated a range of Workplace Mental Health and Wellbeing workshops this year, with over 125 sessions reaching more than 2,000 staff.

Our peer support network of staff, Poutuarā, has been trained to provide first-line support for colleagues who wish to talk about anything related to their wellbeing. We have expanded the Poutuarā network over the last year from 22 supporters to 75 across the country, and we designed a support programme that ensures they are trained and equipped to respond to a range of issues including mental health first aid response, and get the mentoring and supervision they need. We have developed a range of communications to promote the programme.

Ensuring our people are working in a safe, modern and flexible working environment

Managing our health, safety and security obligations

The health, safety and security (HSS) requirements and duties that MSD operates under are set out in the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (the HSWA) and the Government’s Mandated Protective Security Requirements (PSRs). Our policies and procedures give effect to those requirements and duties. We regularly review our approach to health, safety and wellbeing to ensure it is consistent with good practice, including WorkSafe guidance.

Our Health, Safety and Security Policy is reviewed and refreshed every two years in consultation with our National Health and Safety Committee and reflects the current areas of strategic focus. Other policies support the control and management of our critical HSS risks (for example, responding to harmful behaviour), or set out our response to statutory obligations or whole-of-government directives (for example PSRs). Procedures and guidelines support decision-makers to implement policy effectively, or to deal with scenarios requiring judgement and discretion.

In May 2021 we adopted a new policy outlining how we will work with external parties and manage overlapping duties of care. The policy informs the induction process for contractors coming on to MSD sites, and supports consultation, co-operation and co-ordination on matters affecting health and safety. A working group has reviewed contractor management and procurement and developed a new pre-qualification system for maintenance contractors. The results of this working group have been embedded into our procurement processes.

Health, safety and security on sites

Our security consists of a number of features to ensure the safety of staff. It is designed around the principles of detect, deter, delay and respond, and underpins operational decisions that impact staff safety. This includes site safety plans and drills, a guard model, controlled access, client risk assessments, mobile pendant alarms, and regular site visits by senior HSS advisors.

Security Assurance Programme

Under our Security Assurance Programme, we have established a baseline standard of security for every client-facing site to ensure that we meet our obligations under the HSWA and the PSRs. The programme also lets us track the maturity of the security ecosystem as we roll out new security programmes. We review each of our sites under the programme annually.

Our sites undertake a self-assessment to ensure that HSS standards are met and maintained; this allows us to identify which sites require more work. The assessment involves input from management, union, and other nominated employee representatives. This assures us that all our sites are meeting our standards.

Service Centres for the Future

This national programme of work focuses on rolling out a new zoning model for our service centres across the country. We are enhancing the security layout in all our service centres, incorporating new spaces and technology.

We have 42 sites with a new zoning layout, with a 60 more in progress, despite delays due to the impact of COVID-19 and resulting lockdowns.

Learning from incidents

We have continued to embed our approach to investigations as a response to major or severe HSS incidents. Over the past year our team of senior regional HSS advisors has conducted a range of investigations with a focus on what we can learn or change to make people safer, and as a prevention strategy to minimise the likelihood of incidents being repeated. These investigations provide an opportunity to improve processes and systems.

Health and safety incidents, July 2019 to June 2021

This table reports the number workplace health and safety events entered into our STAR (Security, Threats, Accidents, Risks) database, including office-based, working-from-home and off-site incidents.

Type of event 2019/20 2020/21
Pain and discomfort 1,360 1,678
Accident and injury 370 426
Near miss and hazard 86 153
Total 1,816 2,257

The increase in reported events in 2020/21 can be explained through both a significant increase in staff numbers and increased reporting of near miss and hazard events.

Supporting our people to be health and safety champions

We work closely with the PSA to encourage worker participation in HSS. A Worker Participation Agreement provides for the establishment of Health and Safety Committees in all workplaces, and a National Health and Safety Committee that provides a voice for workers and the PSA on the overall state of health, safety and wellbeing within MSD.

Health and safety representatives

We are committed to actively supporting our network of health and safety representatives (HSRs). All newly elected HSRs receive training that equips them to fulfil their roles under the HSWA, with ongoing training that incorporates a mix of formal and informal development opportunities. We produce a monthly newsletter for HSRs and encourage networking and sharing of good practice. Since 2019 we have celebrated the achievements of high-performing HSRs with an award presented by the Chief Executive.

Supporting our staff through elevated COVID-19 alert levels

In 2020 we developed guidelines for implementing COVID-19 alert level protocols to ensure that we were able to operate effectively and safely throughout the COVID-19 response. These guidelines were deployed throughout the various alert level elevations in 2020/21.

We employ a range of methods to provide assurance that our guidelines and protocols are being implemented as intended. This includes readiness checklists for sites’ use when reopening, staff pulse checks, visibility of compliance and issues through Health and Safety Committee meetings, and frequent engagement with the PSA.

To support managers who have a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 amongst their teams, we have:

  • developed a checklist to ensure consistent and accurate data is provided
  • put in place processes for how to deal with staff who may have been in contact with an infected person
  • established protocols for closing and cleaning sites
  • set up data capture, monitoring and weekly ministerial reporting.

Improving our systems

Our HSS notification system, STAR assists with compliance with our responsibilities under the HSWA and provides better visibility of risks and hazards. 

The system allows all staff to enter security events, pain and discomfort reports, and accident/injury or near miss/hazard events. Staff can also report workplace issues like bullying or stress, or notify MSD of family violence issues.

In 2020/21 we introduced a number of new modules for staff to use through STAR, including site safety plans, hazard risk registers, an actions module, audit module and safety toolbox. The integration of STAR with our core client system, CMS, was successfully scoped, and development commenced. We began reviewing our system and process for when workplace issues are reported.


We have embedded and enhanced a regular cycle of comprehensive internal reporting on HSS risks. Members of our Leadership Team are Officers under the HSWA, and require regular detailed reports to gain the assurance required to discharge their due diligence duties. We have recently reframed our reporting to more specifically focus on our Officers’ duties under the HSWA.

Building on our constructive relationships with our employees and their union representatives

Our relationship with the PSA remains constructive, with engagement at operational and strategic levels. We engage with around 350 delegates at local and national levels, including Ngā Kaitūhono representatives and the PSA convenor. Rūnanga delegates in sites have almost doubled since the 2019 PSA delegate elections.

We signed a High Performance High Engagement (HPHE) agreement with the PSA in 2019, aimed at improving the quality of our employees’ working life. HPHE is a way of working with increased employee participation to improve organisational performance through genuine engagement.

Employees are more involved in decision making and solving workplace issues. The approach is based on the principle that those working closest to an issue are best placed to resolve it, and the investment in developing the solution increases ownership of the outcome.

HPHE can be seen in action through work-based teams who apply agreed tools and techniques to issues (for example brainstorming, root cause analysis, interest-based problem-solving, continuous or rapid improvement methods).

We have increased our HPHE investment this year to enable more staff engagement on our future operating model. In addition, we are continuing to use an HPHE approach for three priority areas:

  • working from home
  • capability framework
  • employee experience.

We are working with the PSA on supporting the introduction of HPHE across other public sector agencies.


In 2020/21 we completed bargaining for three of our four collective employment agreements. These cover frontline Service Delivery employees as well as National Office and Ministry of Youth Development staff – a total of around 5,275 staff with around 55 percent union membership. A smaller local Work and Income North Staff collective agreement was also settled in 2020/21.

We were the first agency to settle negotiations under the revised Public Service Pay Guidance, which was issued in May 2021. This was a significant achievement and demonstrated our constructive relationship with our union partners.

MSD is the subject of two pay equity claims. One covers administration and clerical employees and is part of the wider Public Service claim. The other relates to customer service and contact centre employees, and covers around 3,000 MSD people. Te Kawa Mataaho Public Service Commission is leading the work to resolve these claims, which are a priority under the 2021 Public Service Pay Guidance.


  1. See https://www.publicservice.govt.nz/our-work/diversity-and-inclusion/papa-pounamu-driving-diversity-and-inclusion-across-the-public-service/

  2. Average salaries are calculated by the MSD Cost Analysis and Modelling Tool, which includes all employees except external secondees.

  3. Figures exclude other, not stated and refused to state. Figures do not always add to 100 percent as people may identify with more than one ethnicity.

  4. MELAA refers to Middle Eastern, Latin American and African ethnicities.

  5. We launched a new Pan-Asian Staff Network in July 2021.

  6. See https://www.msd.govt.nz/about-msd-and-our-work/work-programmes/lead-programme-work/information-and-support/reasonable-accommodation.html

  7. Papa Pounamu was established in 2017, to bring together diversity and inclusion practices across the Public Service and to support Public Sector chief executives to meet their diversity and inclusion obligations and goals. For more information, see https://www.publicservice.govt.nz/our-work/diversity-and-inclusion/papa-pounamu-driving-diversity-and-inclusion-across-the-public-service/

  8. For more information, see https://msd.govt.nz/about-msd-and-our-work/work-programmes/accessibility/accessibility-guide/about-the-charter.html

  9. For more information, see https://msd.govt.nz/about-msd-and-our-work/work-programmes/accessibility/training/index.html