The COVID-19 pandemic has helped break barriers for gender equality in the industry. It accelerated acceptance of various styles of working, which has helped those who juggle a variety of duties outside the office, including women professionals. What more can the industry do to further level the odds for women in finance?
Read more: In search of an even playing field
One entrenched issue that needs attention is equal pay.
Over the 12 months to November 2021, the gender pay gap for women in financial and insurance services in Australia shrank by three percentage points to 20.6%. This figure represents the largest decline in any sector measured, was the third-largest gap out of 18 sectors, and was far above the average of 13.8%.
Women receive lower pay partly due to less representation in managerial roles – something pre-pandemic research showed that onsite childcare can significantly counter.
Brighten voluntarily signed up for a program that encourages equal pay in workplaces across a range of sectors. Through this pledge, Brighten committed to recognising that gender bias in performance, talent development, and pay decisions can create like-for-like gender pay gaps. Sector-wide programs such as these, however, need to be backed up by managerial action to gain traction.
“While the industry initiatives are pivotal, it ultimately does come down to each business and leaders within those businesses to set the right standards and give life to them,” said Belinda Wright, head of partnerships and distribution of residential at Thinktank.
Liberty has a leadership program that supports women’s advancement.
“The workshops that program participants attend lead to important conversations at work and at home,” said Anne Bastian, chief people officer at Liberty.
Home is also a large factor in achieving progress for both women and their partners.
“Supporting men to access paid parental leave and flexible working arrangements is critical to enabling women’s participation in business,” Bastian said.
Liberty backs this up with policies on parental support, fertility support, gender affirmation, paid parental leave, and flexible work options.
Another area that should not be overlooked is encouraging a safe work environment for all genders.
ANZ, for example, is a signatory to the Diversity Council Australia #IStandForRespect campaign – a commitment to stand against gendered harassment and violence in all its forms and to take steps to address sexual and sex-based harassment.