Women record slowest economic progress since 2014

While three records were broken this year to help drive women’s economic progress in 2018, Australian women recorded the slowest pace of annual economic progress since 2014, according to the latest Financy Women’s Index (FWX) report. 

The December results of the Women’s Index showed that, on the basis of current trends, Australian women were still at least a decade away (37 per cent short) from achieving the FWX Progress Target, which is 173.3 points, and economic equity in Australia.

Bianca Hartge-Hazelman, founder of the Women’s Index, said 3.21 million women were in full-time employment, record women pursuing higher educational qualifications, and a 20-year low in the national gender pay gap, but the superannuation gap remains too wide and female board appointments stalled in the second half of 2018.

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The number of women occupying ASX 200 board positions is down slightly to 28.4 per cent, but OneVue chief executive, Connie McKeage, said while the number dropped, the financial services industry in particular was challenged by the high level of regulatory uncertainty.

“The diversity objective remains top of mind for most Australian listed companies however as they continue to strive to get the right people into the right positions the deadline looms,” she said. “As they say however better late than never and I remain confident we will get there in this financial year.”

New AFA Inspire national chair, Kate McCallum, said it was encouraging to see the latest score, but was frustrated by the slow given mentoring, coaching and training efforts.

“The Index reveals that Australia is screaming out for systemic change. In no other endeavour in business would we continue to invest so much precious time and energy into initiatives that gain so little traction in improving the pathways to women’s economic progress,” she said.

The gender gap in superannuation persists with women falling 34 per cent short compared to men at retirement age, but AMP Financial Planning adviser, Dianne Charman, said 2018’s initiatives like the rollover of unused concessional contribution caps had the potential to make a big dent in average super balances over time.

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