Women Still Lacking Earning Potential

6 August 2015
ANZ recently released a research report stating that women earn $700,000 less than men during their careers and retire with $92,000 less in super.

Based on data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, the Human Rights Commission, and the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia, this report presents some staggering facts about the continuing lack of equality in finances for women.

The good news is that ANZ will be implementing new measures to help women experience an equal financial future. We take a look at the findings of the report and what you can do as a woman to stabilise your financial position for the future.

Key findings of the report

Earning potential

Girls excel in school, but teacher bias keeps many girls out of the advanced mathematics, science and economics subjects that would land them high-paying jobs when they graduate.

The majority of university students enrolled in bachelor degrees are women (ABS, 2014), yet female graduates earn on average $3,000 less per year than men (Graduate Careers Australia, 2014).

Women earn about a fifth less on average (18.8%) for doing the same work as men (Workplace Gender Equality Agency, 2015). This means on average, women earn $700,000 less during their career (ABS, 2014).

Women make up just 35% of the full-time workforce, but make up 70% of the part-time workforce (ABS, 2015). So we literally are not given the same amount of paid work as men. This is amazing because compared to 30 years ago, women are working more than ever before and men are working less than they used to (ANZ, 2015).

Considering our lower earning potential, it is not surprising that men have more savings than women. 26% of women have less than $2,000 in savings, compared to 20% of men (ANZ, 2014).

Related Article: Women: put yourself in control

Discrimination in the workplace

Sadly, roughly half (49%) of mothers experience discrimination in the workplace. Of these, 1 in 3 resign and either look for a new job or stop working altogether (Australia Human Rights Commission, 2014).

Women represent just 20% of ASX 200 board members and 31% of Members of Parliament.

Women spend twice as much time doing unpaid work as men (ABS, 2014).

Women retire with 50% or $92,000 less in super than men.

This means 90% of women will retire without sufficient funds for a comfortable lifestyle, and will have to rely on the age pension. A huge 1 in 5 women will retire with no superannuation at all (The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia, 2015). This is unfortunate because women live longer than men on average.

ASIC research confirming these findings

ASIC’s Australian Financial Attitudes and Behaviour Tracker report used research from research undertaken by EY Sweeney Research to study the financial attitudes and behaviours of Australians in 2014 and 2014-2015.

The 2014-2015 report found that 35% of women said dealing with money is stressful and overwhelming (compared to 27% of men), and 35% said they often buy things on impulse. Only 38% of women thought dealing with money was interesting, compared to 46% of men. 16% of women said they found it difficult to understand financial matters. 70% of women said they were only paying the minimum repayments on their credit card.

Surprisingly, this report showed that while women were less likely to be interested in money matters (38% compared to 46% of men), they were more likely to make a budget and stick to it (78%). 43% of women had a short-term (3-5 year) financial plan in place, and 23% of women even had a long-term (15-20 year) financial plan. So the news for women is not all grim!

What ANZ is implementing to empower women’s financial futures

In July 2015, ANZ announced steps they were taking to help women’s finances. CEO of ANZ Global Wealth Joyce Phillips said, “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.”

ANZ’s new measures include:

  • Parental leave will be paid for up to 24 months (up from 12 months), for Australian employees on their return to work.
  • Top-up superannuation payments of $500 per year will be paid to ANZ’s permanent and fixed-term female employees in Australia, to address the average gap in women?s retirement savings.
  • Free superannuation advice will be made available for customers with less than $50,000 in superannuation, to help them learn about super and feel confident about making financial decisions.
  • Specialist financial planners will be employed who are trained in the needs and preferences of women.

What the Australian government is implementing to empower women

Under Australia’s leadership, the G20 leaders agreed to reduce the gender participation gap by 25% by 2025. The Australian government has a target of at least 40% of women on government boards and they have provided training scholarships for this purpose.

Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women, Michaelia Cash, said ANZ Women’s Report had drawn “a line in the sand” for measuring gender equality in the workplace and in leadership roles. “It is, quite simply, the smart thing to do for the nation’s ongoing productivity and economic growth,” Senator Cash said.

The Australian government plans to reach that line in the sand by:

  • Ensuring that families can access affordable childcare
  • Building a workplace relations framework that supports flexible work
  • Supporting women to pursue careers in growth industries
  • Making tax and social security systems encourage rather than discourage participation in financial matters
  • Increasing the number of women in leadership

What you can do to improve your own financial position

Improving your super situation should be the number one focus for women. 36% of women in the 2014 ANZ Survey of Financial Literacy report said they find superannuation statements difficult or very difficult to understand. Thankfully, there are a few simple things you can do to build your super, and some great places you can get help with your finances generally.

Simple super tips

1. Bring all your super into one account so you’re only paying one set of fees and gaining as much compound interest on your money as you can.

2. Look for lost super using the Australian Taxation Office’s SuperSeeker website.

3. Salary sacrifice a small amount of your before-tax income if you can afford it, to pay less tax. Use the government’s MoneySmart super contributions optimiser to see how much benefit you could get from different super contributions.

4. When you’re earning less super because you’re on maternity leave or another type of career break, see if you’re eligible for a government co-contribution to your super of up to $500.

Get a personal trainer and become a Super Woman

The Super Woman Money Program run by VicSuper is a great free program that trains women in how to budget and manage money, save on tax, invest, and build up super for retirement. Over 4,500 women have benefited from this free 12-week program since it launched in 2012. It runs twice a year and you can sign up at superwomanmoney.com.au. For more info & insight, check out our article on the Super Woman Money Program.

Compare super funds available on Canstar’s database

If you’re comparing Superannuation funds, the comparison table below displays some of the products currently available on Canstar’s database for Australians aged 30-39 with a balance of up to $55,000, sorted by Star Rating (highest to lowest), followed by company name (alphabetical). Use Canstar’s superannuation comparison selector to view a wider range of super funds.

Fee, performance and asset allocation information shown in the table above have been determined according to the investment profile in the Canstar Superannuation Star Ratings methodology that matches the age group you selected.

Join the conversation

Tweet something like this and join the conversation with the hashtag #equalfuture:

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” Socrates. #equalfuture

@ANZ said it right: Girls start off so far ahead in school, but the workforce is not designed for women to succeed. Let’s create one that is. #equalfuture

Find out how ANZ is empowering women and what you can do to contribute to an #equalfuture at ANZ Women.