Gender inequality: More than just pay

Finance access overlooked in gender inequality

Gender inequality: More than just pay


By Mina Martin

Westpac’s Rachael McKenzie (pictured above), executive manager of life operations and CX, emphasises that gender inequality extends beyond pay disparities.

“Access to finance is an issue that often gets overlooked in the conversation about gender inequality,” McKenzie said.

The persistent pay gap

The global gender pay gap remains significant, with the World Economic Forum reporting it was 68.4% closed in 2023. At the current pace, full pay parity won't be achieved for 131 years.

“Public debate tends to focus on the gender pay gap – and with good reason,” McKenzie said.

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Financial barriers for women entrepreneurs

At the recent Financial Alliance for Women Summit in London, the spotlight was on women’s access to capital.

“Over 400 million women entrepreneurs around the world have vast potential to grow their businesses … but they lack the financing to achieve their goals,” McKenzie said.

The potential economic impact

Female entrepreneurs represent a $1.7 trillion growth opportunity for financial service providers and could add $5-6tn to the global economy. However, female founders currently receive less than 2% of venture capital globally.

Collaborative efforts and solutions

The FAW Summit saw participation from more than 250 people representing 149 institutions across 58 countries, discussing support mechanisms for women entrepreneurs. Non-financial services such as education, mentoring, and recognition programs were also highlighted as crucial for growth.

Westpac’s initiatives

Westpac, a founding member of the Financial Alliance for Women, is actively working to close the finance gap.

In 2023, Westpac Business Lending announced new measures, including dedicated loans for small businesses and a $500 million commitment to support women in business.

Westpac’s collaboration with the University of New South Wales Founders’ 10X Accelerator Program offers three $20,000 scholarships for women balancing work and personal commitments.

Additionally, their partnership with Fishburners, a community hub for early-stage startups, includes the Ascent Project aimed at increasing female founder representation.

“There’s still a long way to go, but programs such as these are helping many women realise their potential in the business world,” McKenzie said, highlighting the ongoing efforts to address gender inequality in access to finance.

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