The Federal Government missed a great opportunity to lay out a strategy to address gender equality in Tuesday’s Budget but that doesn’t mean you have to go with the flow and wait for change to happen.
Operation Gender Equality 2030 is what we needed, and I’m going to share with you how to start creating it in your own life.
In any plan to enhance your financial progress you must first identify where you sit on a number of metrics. This is how we essentially measure women’s progress in the Women’s Index and it’s the same process that is followed internationally in other similar indices,
When it comes to gender financial equality this involves looking at key areas where there are gender gaps and then address them with measures that have the potential to make the biggest impact to your position.
Here’s some questions to ask yourself as we try to shift our mindsets on gender financial equality.
- Education: What’s your education look like and what are your plans to keep learning to increase your personal net worth in terms of brain power and skills? Task: Research what educational pathways (formal or informal) are available to you to help you advance your career potential.
- Employment: What’s your employment situation at present and are you satisfied? Would you like to be working more or less? What is your plan for the future and where do you want to be. Task: Map out what you think are the essential steps to getting there such as education, networking and even a career change.
- Unpaid work: How much time are you spending on unpaid work tasks such as care or housework? Where can you afford to pull back in order to increase your paid work potential? Task: Challenge yourself to reduce the number of hours you spend per week on unpaid work.
- Leadership: What are your career ambitions? What does leadership look like to you and what kind of leader would you like to work for or become?
- Superannuation: What do your retirement savings look like? Do you care? Is there something more you can be doing to top up your savings without putting yourself under financial stress? Task: Start by adding a small monthly amount to your super in a way that works for you.
- Income: Where is your income coming from? Do you know if you are paid fairly in your workplace? Have you ever asked if your workplace measures gender gap gaps? What are you doing to advance your prospects of a pay rise? Indeed are they even possible in your workplace? Task: Get ready to negotiate a pay rise or better conditions or better paying workplace or education to further your income potential.
Frankly, I would like to see the 101 years to financial gender equality, as measured through The Financy Women’s Index, halved in the next decade. But for that to happen we can’t just wait on government, we each need a plan.
If you need some further ideas about the actions you can take, then consider how you might build on these three areas below which were acknowledged in the Budget.
Superannuation if we tackle the superannuation gender gap, which sits at 30% according to Australian Bureau of Statistics Data, then we need to at least ensure super is part of paid parental leave for Mothers and Fathers. Now we could wait for government to introduce this or take matters into our own hands. The way to do this is when you take a career break that may come about because of having children or other life matters, keep contributing to your superannuation.
Childcare costs. If we tackle childcare costs and accessibility, which was given a $1.7 billion boost in the Federal Budget to help 250,000 families, then we need to make it free for all families who need the help and prioritise quality. Now this is a tricky one because there is a very real workplace disincentive rate which kicks in for many women once they start to work more than three days per week. In other words they find that the financial benefit of what they earn is basically being eroded by additional childcare expenses. I would urge families to try and find the sweet spot for themselves when it comes to childcare costs, claiming the childcare subsidy and understanding what they need to earn per week in order to make it worth it.
Income. If we tackle the gender pay gap, which sits at an average of 13.4%, we need to start with a boost to wages in underpaid and undervalued female dominated sectors and set gender diversity quotas on corporate leadership and at a government level. Now payrises are harder to come by today than they used to be but they are certainly not off limits and are well worth negotiating if you feel you have earned it and can state your business case to an employer.
So while we can wait on government’s to embrace a bigger strategy on financial equality, what’s really critical is having the personal tenacity to take action, never give up and lead your own mindset on gender equality.