Written By: Ruth Liew 29/7/15
Former prime minister Julia Gillard says the “unconscious bias” against women has to go as the Greens push for a Senate inquiry into the retirement gender gap.
“Women earn 4 per cent less in their first graduate job than men with the same qualifications,” Ms Gillard told an ANZ Women’s Initiative lunch in Sydney on Wednesday.
“For most women, that pay differential is the start of a cycle of financial inequality that becomes harder and harder to rectify,” she said. “One of the issues we must confront is unconscious bias … we are still driven by cultural stereotypes.”
The comments come after ANZ bank launched a series of initiatives including free financial advice for female customers if they have less than $50,000 in their superannuation, and will pay women staff a $500-a year top up to their retirement savings.
The bank will also pay super contributions to paid parental leave for up to 24 months as part of measures to close the gender pay gap whereby women earn $700,000 on average less than men over their lifetime.
Research from ANZ found that women who worked full time were paid an average $15,000 a year less than men, and one in five yet to retire have virtually no retirement savings.
The Greens said that they would move for a Senate inquiry into women’s superannuation savings following the ANZ initiatives.
“On average, women have $44,000 in their super account, compared to $82,000 for men. This is an extreme level of inequality and ANZ is doing the right thing by trying to change this for their employees,” Greens industrial relations spokesman Adam Bandt said.
“We will move to send our Boosting Super for Women Bill to a Senate inquiry for an Australia-wide look at the problem of women retiring without enough money.”
The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia said ANZ’s moves will help women improve their future retirement security.
“An extra $500 make a huge difference to the retirement balance, and that means the percentage of fees that you pay including insurance premiums go down – and you get a big uplift,” said Pauline Vamos, ASFA chief executive.
Joyce Phillips, ANZ’s chief executive of global wealth, was the driving force behind the bank’s new measures aimed at closing the gender gap in Australia.
“Over time, we believe these new measures will help improve the financial security of women at ANZ by directly targeting the areas of advice, superannuation and financial education,” she said.
ANZ chief executive, Mike Smith, said other organisations across Australia should be seriously addressing the issue of gender inequality.
He said promoting diversity and gender equality was a priority at the bank, and that included pay equality and an equal representation of women in leadership roles.
“We can’t just talk about it [gender inequality] – it’s stark, it’s quite confronting … we have to do something about it,” he said on Wednesday.
Superannuation industry body the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustee is throwing its support behind a Senate review into the retirement savings gap for women and urged the government to prioritise the super tax reform of superannuation to improve equality.