Many women experience unequal treatment or disadvantages in the workplace which lead to challenges in their later life stages. Women have been a large focus in the industries in which we work — namely superannuation, aged care and community services — during recent times. Novigi is committed to improving the lives of all people, including women, that access these services.
Women in Superannuation and Wealth
There has been ongoing conversation surrounding the state of women’s superannuation balances, something that was highlighted in the recent Retirement Income Review. Despite ongoing action to improve gender equality, women today are still retiring with a staggering 47% less superannuation than men and 23% of women retire with no superannuation savings at all.
So why, in the twenty-first century, is this still an issue? Well, in Australia:
So what does this mean? It means that 44% of women still rely on their partner as the main source of funds for their retirement. It means that 8.5% of women between 65 and 74 are still paying off a mortgage and ultimately it means high rates of poverty, housing stress and homelessness in the later stages of life.
One positive achievement for women in the superannuation space is the increasing amount of inspiring women now heading up large superannuation organisations and breaking the glass ceiling that exists in the corporate world. Some notable mentions include Debby Blakey (CEO at HESTA), Cath Bowtell (CEO at IFS), Wendy Tancred (CEO at Mercy Super), Deanne Stewart (CEO at Aware Super) and Vicki Doyle (CEO of Rest Super).
Women and Aged Care
The aged care workforce is dominated by women, with 85% of the workforce being female. As this workforce has a high percentage of part-time and casual workers as well as lower than average salaries, it means that women working in this industry have lower superannuation balances and are more likely to be disadvantaged in retirement.
Two out of three people accessing aged care services in June 2019 were women. Women are expected to live, on average, about five years longer than men. They are also more likely than men to use aged care services for longer. This may be why there is a slightly higher proportion of women who have high care needs.
Women and Community Housing
Many of the inequalities that women face earlier in life and in their careers mean that they are more likely to experience poverty, housing stress and homelessness, particularly in the later stages of life. 40% of older single retired women are currently living in poverty and experiencing economic insecurity in retirement. In fact, women over 55 are the fastest growing group of homeless people in Australia, increasing by over 30% between 2011 and 2016 to nearly 7,000. Older women also account for 19% of social housing and 16% of community housing tenants.
Unfortunately, there is a housing deficit of around 600,000 across Australia each year. Women account for 400,000 of these. The number of women living in poverty is only expected to increase with Covid-19, with women forming the majority of the 360,000 people in NSW projected to be unemployed by July 2021. This increase in homelessness and housing stress is probably caused by a high rate of job losses and increases in domestic violence due to the pandemic.
Women in Science and Technology
A traditionally male dominated industry, there has been a major push to increase women in Science, Technology and Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) roles in recent times, beginning with encouraging the involvement of girls in STEM at school. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, almost half (49%) of people with qualifications in the natural and physical sciences are now women. The impact of this has not yet carried over to the workforce, with the percentage of women in STEM-qualified occupations far less than in non-STEM occupations in 2019. In 2019, women accounted for 14% of STEM-qualified occupations, compared to 50% in non-STEM industries. Within the ICT workforce specifically, women only accounted for 28% of the ICT workforce in 2017.
What are we doing at Novigi?
Novigi strives to continue to be an equal opportunity place for women and men to work and we are working towards a gender balance ratio as close to 50/50 as possible.
On average, women spend five hours more per day caring for children than men. Novigi’s flexible working conditions are available to all employees. Not only does this benefit our female employees, it also benefits our male employees and their partners by making it possible to share caring responsibilities. Some other things that we are actively doing to support equal opportunity in our workplace include:
Anonymising areas of the recruitment process to avoid unconscious bias.
Equal pay for graduates regardless of gender.
Equal career path opportunities.
Novigi’s vision is to be trusted advisers, world-class implementers, empowering our clients to change the world in a lasting and positive way. We are driven to help organisations to leverage technology to make people’s lives better – whether that be better care, better quality of life, better financial outcomes or secure housing.
To realise this vision, we continue to support superannuation funds, community housing providers (CHPs) and aged care providers to harness technology so they can improve operational efficiency and deliver a better customer experience.
Sian Wright is the Community Manager (Superannuation & Wealth) at Novigi and is based in the Wollongong office.
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