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Spotlight on women in super

By Cameron Micallef · March 08 2020
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egg

Earn

Spotlight on women in super

By Cameron Micallef
March 08 2020
Reading:
egg
Spotlight on women in super

Spotlight on women in super

author image
By Cameron Micallef · March 08 2020
Reading:
egg
Spotlight on women in super

With the average Australian woman retiring with over 42 per cent less in superannuation than a man, nestegg has put a spotlight on what the superannuation industry is doing to improve the outcomes for women.

In celebration of International Women’s Day on 8 March 2020, nestegg is celebrating all things equality and the importance of recognising and realising women’s rights through a financial lens.  

nestegg has spoken with leading advocacy groups and superannuation funds including Super Rewards, FairVine Super, First State Super, the VISSF, Cbus Super, HESTA, Super Consumers, and Industry Super to find out how they view the current landscape.

“Superannuation is often the last thing on people’s minds when they take time out of the workforce to care for children or loved ones, and as we know, caring duties tend to fall disproportionately on women,” Super Consumer Australia senior policy adviser Rebecca Curran said.

A recent submission by Industry Super Australia highlights the extent of the challenge in getting women’s superannuation level with men’s balances. 

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The Gender Super Balance Gap by Age for Wage and Salary Earners, 2016–17

Age Group

Male Median Super Balance

Female Median Super Balance

Gender Super Gap

20 to 24

$6,523

$6,083

6.7%

25 to 29

$21,843

$19,861

9.1%

30 to 34

$45,800

$38,886

15.1%

35 to 39

$75,102

$56,610

24.6%

40 to 44

$102,810

$70,994

30.9%

45 to 49

$128,343

$83,245

35.2%

50 to 54

$153,133

$93,919

38.7%

55 to 59

$186,584

$111,125

40.4%

60 to 64

$188,024

$133,197

29.2%

All

$63,123

$45,443

28.0%


What is the super industry doing to improve equality for Australian women?

According to the The Victorian Independent Schools Superannuation Fund’s (VISSF) secretary, Neville John, the industry is starting to address the issues facing women.

“In the past decade, the super industry and government have taken steps to close the super gap and increase the financial literacy of women through engagement, education and policy changes. However, there is still much more to be done to level out the disadvantages women face,” Mr John said.

HESTA’s CEO, Debby Blakey, highlighted how superannuation is leading the fight for women’s rights at work, which has a flow-on impact with more super in retirement.

“HESTA continues to fight entrenched gender discrimination, pushing for equal pay and reform to our retirement system so women are not financially penalised with lower retirement savings due to having to take time out of the workforce to perform vital caring roles,” Ms Blakey said.

What is your organisation doing to improve equality in your own workplace?

Cbus Super CEO David Atkin highlighted his fund’s contribution to creating equal opportunity, winning a WGEA Employer of Choice for Gender Equality award in 2019–2020.

“As of February 2020, Cbus had a 50:50 split between male and female genders, with females currently representing 50 per cent of the total workforce,” Mr Atkin said.

Founder and CEO of Super Rewards Emily Hollingum also highlighted the advocacy work towards equality. “Super Rewards is an equal-opportunity employer. In addition to our hiring practices, we also promote equality in the workplace by supporting flexible work practices. All of our staff can work flexible hours and work remotely. We aim to encourage those with caring or other commitments to participate in the workplace, by offering meaningful, flexible work,” she said.

FairVine Super’s chairman, Sangeeta Venkatesan, said while her fund is designed to help women, it is important to get the best people in the job.

“FairVine Super is a super fund designed for Australian women. It was important that employees be hired on merit rather than gender. As such, the team and board is well represented by women and men. Our employees work flexibly including myself,” Ms Venkatesan said.

“We are also in the process of implementing a new parental leave policy modelled on Norway’s system, which offers the same amount of non-transferable leave to both parents as a way to promote gender equality.”

More generally, what role should the Australian public play in improving equality outcomes for women?

FairVine Super Sangeeta Venkatesan believes everyone has a role to play to improve outcomes for women more broadly.

“It’s not just about calling out the overtly sexist and toxic behaviour; it’s also about being mindful of perpetuating gender stereotypes, which can be far more subtle and socially acceptable — yet no less damaging to our progress towards gender equality.

“This isn’t just something that men are guilty of — women can sometimes be the offenders, too. It’s important that we challenge any outdated gender biases and assumptions in our everyday life: in our families, in our workplaces, and in our interactions with the general public.

“Normalising nascent gender-equal behaviours, such as fathers leaving work early to pick the kids up from school, or mother being the breadwinner while father is the primary carer, is the only way we can move forward.”

First State Super chief executive officer Deanne Stewart reaffirms Ms Venkatesan’s beliefs, highlighting the importance of breaking down gender barriers.

“To truly move the dial, we need to remove the structural barriers and challenge the societal norms that see women dominate lower-paid and insecure professions and then pay the consequences when they take career breaks to take on parenting and caring responsibilities,” Ms Stewart concluded.

Spotlight on women in super
Spotlight on women in super
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About the author

Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

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About the author

Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

Join The Nest Egg community

We Translate Complicated Financial Jargon Into Easy-To-Understand Information For Australians

Your email address will be shared with nestegg and subject to our Privacy Policy

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