Women & Money: Toolkit boosts gender equity in the finance sector

12 February 2019

Georgie Proud

Georgie is the Project Manager of Women & Money at WIRE. Georgie has focused her career on digital projects that empower women and increase gender equity including Women Talk Money and the Rosie website for young people.

Women & Money is a digital toolkit for finance sector professionals, aiming to increase women’s financial well-being and engagement with financial services.

In an Australian first, WIRE has launched Women & Money, a digital toolkit that will increase women’s financial well-being and engagement with financial services. The website helps financial services to better understand women’s relationship with money, support clients experiencing family violence and women working within their organisations. This toolkit is a must for financial planners who work with women and couples to build financial security.

The free toolkit includes practical tips about supporting clients experiencing financial abuse, as well as easy to read information and resources around money and gender. The toolkit also provides resources on increasing gender equity, both within the workplace and with customers. This includes creating a more welcoming space for female customers, increasing workplace flexibility and assisting employees who are experiencing family violence.

The gender pay gap currently sits at 14.6%, but in the finance and insurance services industry the gap is a staggering 26.6%. Women can expect to retire with 47% less superannuation than men and constitute 69% of all part-time employees. The gender pay gap, inequity in the superannuation system, an expectation to undertake unpaid caring work and the casualisation of the workforce are common structural barriers to financial security that women from all walks of life come up against.

WIRE conducted a survey of Australian women in order to understand their experiences with the financial services sector. The results highlighted common themes that prevented women from engaging with financial services, which included;

  • a lack of trust of financial institutions
  • fear of being swindled
  • feeling intimidated or patronised
  • barriers to accessibility
  • limited options for people on lower incomes

Many of these common concerns were summed up in the words of one survey respondent :

“I feel the professionals who offer advice assume a level of knowledge I may not have, and that they also have a hidden agenda which effects the advice they offer, so it may not be in my best interests.” 

These concerns often prevent women from seeking out financial services and actively engaging in their financial wellbeing. By understanding the behaviors, perceptions and societal structures that perpetuate these concerns financial services can overcome them.

Structural barriers are compounded when women experience family violence, which often includes financial abuse. Women make up the vast majority of victims of family violence, with research released last year showing that 15.7% of women and 7.1% of men in Australia had experienced financial abuse in their lifetime.

Financial abuse is a systemic behaviour where one person tries to control another person’s access to money and stops them from accessing financial information and making financial decisions . It often occurs between romantic partners, but may also occur in other family relationships such as an adult child controlling their elderly parent’s access to money.

Examples of financially abusive behaviours include controlling someone’s access to money, preventing them from working or studying, forcing them take out joint loans or credit cards and withholding payments such as child support payments.

It is likely that financial planners, and others who work directly with customers, will come across clients experiencing financial abuse at some point in their career. Women & Money has clear information on how you can best support someone in this situation and where to refer them for further assistance.

As well as specific strategies for supporting individual women, the toolkit also provides resources on implementing policies that address the behavior, attitudes and structures that drive the proliferation of family violence. By increasing gender equity, both for customers and within the workplace, financial services can directly contribute to the elimination of violence against women in Australia. WIRE is offering free consultations regarding how your organisation can use the website resources so that you are providing best practice support to women customers.

The project is funded by the NAB Foundation and has been developed by WIRE with input from financial sector experts, academics, family violence experts and women with lived experience navigating financial services.

 If you are experiencing family violence you can call the national sexual assault, domestic family violence counselling service on 1800 RESPECT. (1800 737 732)

 Find the toolkit at www.womenandmoney.org.au To learn more about Women and Money and how your organisation can best utilise its resources contact Project Manager Georgie Proud.

 WIRE is the only Victorian service that provides any woman, or gender diverse person, with information and support on any issue and has been specialising in women’s financial wellbeing for over 10 years.

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