money matters

It’s a wrap: Women on money matters in 2017

We look at how women performed on money matters in 2017 and the factors including birth rates, pay and work that fed the results.

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Financy had a big year in 2017, and so too did Australian women on money matters.

In March, on International Women’s Day we released the first Australian-focused economic progress index for women, in the Financy Women’s Index.

It was a big deal for us as we saw that Australian women are by and large improving their financial positions. Expect the next quarter’s results early in 2018!

On a personal note, a week later I was giving birth to my third daughter, which statistically is above average according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Women and babies

The latest data, which was released in December of this year but reflects 2016 facts, shows Australia’s total fertility at 1.79 babies per woman, the same as in 2015. The total fertility rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers in 2016 was 2.12 babies per woman.

As a side note, there were slightly more boys than girls born over this period and the median age of all mothers for births registered was 31.2 years.

So what does this all mean for women on money? A lot actually.

Women and pay

As fertility rates appear to have stabilised, there is increased pressure on government and business to do more to address the gender pay gap – if not for us, but future generations.

There has also been more high profile attention on women’s money matters and women’s rights in the workplace across media channels.

All of which appears to have contributed to a sense that being a woman, is “trending” in the social media world. And I’d say, it’s about time.

It may have helped the nation’s gender pay gap to narrow in 2017 to 15.3 per cent, from roughly 16 per cent a year earlier, says ABS data.

Interestingly, based on 11,000 Australian organisations that report to the government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), the gender pay gap looks much worse.

WGEA data puts the full-time total remuneration gender pay gap at 23.1 per cent, meaning the average man working full time earns nearly $27,000 a year more than the average woman working full-time.

Women and work

At the same time, over 3-million women engaged in the full-time workforce – a new record.

We also saw a jump in women participating in the workforce, just as the male participation rate tracked backwards over a five year period.

This could suggest a greater sharing of parental responsibilities and a sign that more employees are working flexible hours or embracing a more causualised working culture.

We also saw momentum increase at the start of the year for the number of women appointed to higher paying company board positions.

More recently, we have seen some improvement in average wages growth. Recent ABS data from the September quarter shows those on a minimal wage, which tends to be women and younger Australians, actually saw an increase in their pay

Women and boards

A report released by the Australian Institute of Company Directors shows that the number of women on ASX 200 boards hit 26 per cent this year, a record high.

 The AICD’s Quarterly Gender Diversity Report found the number of boards with no women has fallen almost 75 per cent – from 30 boards in 2015, to 16 this time last year, to now just eight. 

The number of boards that have reached or exceeded the AICD’s 30 per cent gender diversity target for ASX boards has also doubled, from 35 in September 2015, to 70 at the end of November 2017.

Yet while gender diversity has hit new highs, the drop in female appointments over 2017 means the AICD’s target of achieving the 30 per cent female representation across ASX 200 boards by the end of 2018 may be slipping out of reach.

The monthly appointment rate of women to ASX 200 boards has fallen from a peak of 44 per cent last year to 35 per cent in 2017.

Women and super

The average superannuation savings of women generally looks abysmal when compared to that of the average man.

This is because of all the factors already discussed, from babies, to pay and work. Each has a role to play in the huge gender pay gap that exists in retirement savings in Australia.

What’s more political leaders are still yet to get with the program and address it head on.

Another year went by in which the May federal budget had nothing in it specific to women on money matters.

Yes there were fringe benefits from a gender neutral stance but nothing that was stamped: Here, we are helping women with super or pay.

So in all, women’s money matters progressed in 2017, and while that progress was slim and slow, it’s there to be celebrated and puts us on track to seeing further improvement in 2018 as we keep up the focus on women. 

We look forward to reporting on it in 2018.

Merry Christmas everyone!

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