Women in Super has been a member of the Australian Gender Equality Council (AGEC) since the council’s foundation in 2018, in order to contribute to acting as an authoritative, strong voice for gender equality in Australia, and driving change at a much faster pace. At the recent AGEC Forum 2019, Women in Super ensured that superannuation without gender bias played an important role in all discussions about gender equity and will be represented in a newly established AGEC manifesto.
Have you ever wondered how many years it will take before we have an equal number of male and female CEOs or Chairs heading Australia’s top 200 companies? Well, projections based on ASX company data tell us that we will need to wait 216 years: apparently, parity will occur in the year 2235 AD. The picture does, however, look a bit rosier when it comes to parity in the broader Australian economy. It will “only” take us 117 years in that sector: an equal number should be achieved by 2136 AD.
Too slow and not acceptable, said some of Australia’s leading gender equality organisations – amongst them Women in Super – knowing that the slow increase of females heading companies and organisations is just one product of the gender inequality that often leads to disadvantages for (mostly) women, often with devastating consequences. Together these organisations formed the Australian Gender Equality Council (AGEC). It is a national not-for-profit member organisation that was officially launched in 2018 and now collectively represents approximately 500,000 women and girls.
AGEC will act as a strong authoritative and independent voice for gender equality in Australia to drive a cultural shift so that women and men have the same rights and opportunities. The national two day forum was attended by the Women in Super team and included presentations from all the member organisation including WIS. Sandra Buckley, WIS CEO, presented on the critical issues facing women in saving for retirement. We also heard from the likes of: the National Association of Women in Construction, the Australian Local Government Women’s Organisation, the Alliance of Girls’ Schools Australasia, Women in Technology, Women in Sports, Women and Leadership Australia, Women in Gaming and Hospitality, Transport Women Australia and Women in STEM just to name a few.
We welcomed the opportunities for networking, sharing resources and brainstorming new collaborations across diverse areas, however we were equally pleased with the level of awareness and support for structural reform to the current superannuation system to improve women's retirement outcomes. This formed a good foundation for an “AGEC manifesto” that will include a focus on economic security, health, community, workforce, care, language and communication, and infrastructure around safety, with a view to accelerating the process of achieving gender equality in Australia. During an AGEC board meeting in May, the manifesto will be finalised and officially launched later in the year.
AGEC also undertakes research into gender equity with “Hands Up for Gender Equality” being their latest research project. Dr Terrance Fitzsimmons, Senior Lecturer in Leadership with the University of Queensland Business School and director of the AIBE Centre for Gender Equality in the Workplace as well as Managing Director of AGEC, presented the research results.
“Hands Up for Gender Equality” is based on data collected from more than 10,000 students attending single-sex high schools in Queensland. It’s a major study into confidence and career intention of teenage boys and girls to understand better the attitudes, experiences, activities and decisions that influence them in their formative years regarding the career choices they make. Choices that will ultimately influence their superannuation. The research results also underlined a common view that was expressed repeatedly during the forum: “If we want to change society and free ourselves from unconscious bias or stereotypes, we have to start as early as in kindergarten and primary school.”
“The forum exceeded our expectations,” said Victoria Weekes, Chair of AEGC at the end of the event. “By all accounts, it was a very successful two days. Certainly, from AGEC’s perspective, we were thrilled with the level of engagement, participation and support from our members and stakeholders.”
For Women in Super, it was another vital opportunity to raise awareness of and influence the change to an urgently needed superannuation system without gender bias.
If you would like to know more about the AECG Forum visit our Twitter feed, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram accounts to keep in the loop of all WIS happenings. We will publish more “Hands Up for Equality” research results snippets in the coming weeks.