09 Mar 2020
The month of March is an explosion of colour and excitement as the world celebrates International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month.
The Women in Banking and Finance offices have been buzzing with excitement for weeks leading up to today, because a few months ago, the ASX invited WiBF to ring the opening bell in celebration of International Women’s Day 2020.
Today, WiBF’s CEO, Jen Dalitz, rang that bell loudly and proudly. That single action was a celebration of the accomplishments of women across all sectors, the triumphs of teams working for diversity, and the inspirational champions of women.
It is wonderful to be recognised for the service WiBF provides to the banking and finance sector. 2020 marks 20 years of our network, 20 years of women supporting women and 20 years of working with our corporate members to increase the representation of female leaders in banking and finance, because we know that diversity makes a difference.
Being invited to ringing ASX’s opening bell for International Women’s Day is a big deal for so many reasons.
Let’s start with the fact that women make up 47% of Australia’s workforce, but only represent 17% of CEOs across industries and sectors. In the financial services and insurance sector, the numbers are even more staggering, with women representing only 9% of CEOs.
Women will likely retire with 47% less superannuation than our male colleagues, but outlive them by at least five years, and are currently the fastest growing cohort of homeless people in Australia.
We need International Women’s Day because a woman is not a quota.
As a country, Australia needs to raise our game. This year, the World Economic Forum ranked Australia 44th out of 153 countries in its Global Gender Gap Index, down from 15th in 2006. Australia’s national gender pay gap is still 14% – meaning every week on average a woman takes home $241 less in her pay packet than a man.
Diversity cannot be treated as a symbolic gesture or tick box exercise when the evidence clearly demonstrates that for companies embracing diversity from its executive ranks down through the lines, the benefits are realised in increased profitability and an innovation mindset.
Companies that have appointed women to key CEO and CFO roles have seen a 20% increase in stock price momentum and 6% increase in profitability in the two years post-appointment, and organisations that build a culture of equality are six times more likely to have an innovation mindset and be more willing to innovate and less afraid of failing.
Research reported in 2019 by Harvard Business Review identified that countries and industries that view gender diversity as important capture benefits from it. Those that don’t, don’t. It is really that simple.
We need International Women’s Day because too many women are dying at the hand of their current or former spouse or partner.
In a recent communication to the WiBF membership, Jen Dalitz expressed her deep concern about a particularly shocking stat in that same World Economic Forum report, writing:
“This last statistic is particularly galling: Australia ranks 104th out of 153 countries in health and survival. And this has a lot to do with the fact that at least one woman is murdered every week in Australia by a current or former partner, a statistic I just cannot get my head around.
Many of these women know they are at risk, and want to leave, but lack the financial resources to do so. With financial abuse an integral and controlling element of the family violence cycle, these women and children often are forced to flee with nothing more than the shirts on their backs. They rely on shelters and safe-houses that are under-resourced and unable to keep up with demand. These women often walk away with literally nothing but their life, and all too often that’s taken from them too.”
We should not be ok with this.
We need International Women’s Day because we cannot afford to be silent.
This year, the International Women’s Day campaign theme is #EachforEqual.
#EachforEqual is about creating an enabled world by challenging stereotypes, fighting bias, broadening perceptions, improving situations and celebrating women’s achievements.
#EachforEqual is about respecting women in the workplace, and in the home.
#EachforEqual is about a living in a world where equal opportunity is the accepted norm.
Our corporate members represent banks, insurers, investment managers, super funds, professional firms, regulators, fintechs, treasury, and corporates servicing the sector. When we called on them to work with us on enabling equality, they responded, and we thank them for their continued support.
Please feel free to share this video with your colleagues and network – https://vimeo.com/wibf/iwd-asx-20020
Gender diversity is everyone’s business. We must continue to raise our voices and be heard because it is the power of the collective voice that leads to positive and impactful change through industry wide co-operation.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics: 6333.0 Characteristics of Employment, Australia; Workplace Gender Equality Agency: Gender workplace statistics at a glance; Workplace Gender Equality Agency: WGEA Data Explorer; Women in Super: The Facts About Women and Super; Australian Human Rights Commission: Older Women’s Risk of Homelessness: Background Paper; World Economic Forum: Global Gender Gap Report 2020; Workplace Gender Equality Agency: Australia’s Gender Pay Gap Statistics; S&P Global: When Women Lead, Firms Win; Accenture: Getting to Equal 2019: Creating a culture that drives innovation; Harvard Business Review Research: When Gender Diversity Makes Firms More Productive; Australian Institute of Criminology National Homicide Monitoring Program
Type on the line above then press the Enter/Return key to submit a new search query