Ross Greenwood speaks to Carolyn Mather, the Finance and Risk Manager at the Construction Training Centre in Salisbury, about a scheme where women get more superannuation than men to help redress the fact women end up with less super in retirement.
Ross Greenwood: Welcome back to Work Life Money, right across the country. I’ve got to tell you one thing that we keep coming back to a subject that is important and it will continue to be important for a very long period of time. This is the disparity between men and women when it comes to their superannuation. Now, as we’ve explained many times before, there are reasons for the disparities.
Number one, and again you might argue that this is not fair but it’s just true, that is that women get paid less than men, so that’s one. Number two, women spend time out of the workforce, when they care for children more often than what men do. Number two, if you’ve got breaks out of the workforce, you’ll end up with less superannuation. Quite often what occurs is that when women go back into the workforce, they tend to find that they go back at salaries, which are again less than the men that otherwise stayed into their jobs and continue to have career progression.
What these things mean ultimately that women end up with less super. How much? Well, I can tell you that according to the Household Income and Labor Dynamics, in Australia survey this year, that the average balance for men aged 55 to 64 is $322,000, and for women, $180,000. Now, you might argue, what can be done about this?
Well, okay, you could even up the pay gap between men and women. Sure. No problems. But there’s more than needs to be done. Some employers and we’ve explained a few of these before, such as, one of Australia’s leading Independent actually is, Rice Warner, has given it’s female employees 2% more super than male staff since 2013.
The ANZ Bank paid female staff an extra $500 a year in superannuation since 2015. But now, it’s getting further out. The Construction Training Center in Salisbury in Queensland will pay its female employees 1% more super than male coworkers starting now. Let’s now go to Carolyn Mather who is the Finance and Risk Manager at the Construction Training Center in Salisbury. Many thanks for your time, Carolyn.
Interview with Carolyn Mather, Finance and Risk Manager, Construction Training Centre
Carolyn Mather: Thanks for having me.
Ross Greenwood: Why did the organization decide to go this way?
Carolyn Mather: Actually, it was directed more from our CEO who’s not here at the moment, Phil Diver. We have a lot of wellness initiatives. At our work we sort of look at physical health, so you get flu jabs, you get access to a gym, healthy eating options, etcetera. We try and look after your mental health in terms of mindfulness, meditation training. The other thing that he actually thought about was about financial health?
A lot of people actually get quite stressed about their finances and this is one area that we could look at. One of the things that he investigated and he’s really interested in equality, having a gender balance and all that kind of thing. Is when he looked into it was, as you said, the Super Pay Gap. Which is really huge. One of the things he thought we could do to try and address that a little bit was actually pay our female staff that 1% more.
Ross Greenwood: The other aspect of this, which a lot of people again miss, is that females very much need more super than what men, because they live longer. On average, four or five years longer. Therefore, because of their longevity, they actually need more money to continue to live on. And also, the final part about this puzzle, is with the number of marriage breakdowns these days. Given the fact that when separation occurs, the women, we know statistically, generally end up worse off. Again, if they have got their own superannuation, they’re going to be more self-reliant in the future.
Carolyn Mather: Which is all very positive. Everybody knows that somebody who could be positively impacted by that. So, even if you’re a male employee, your daughters could see the positive impact, your wives. We think it was a really great initiative.
Ross Greenwood: Okay. When it comes to the practicality of this, because there’s quite clearly equality in the workplace, that means they cannot be active discrimination against men or women. Does that mean that the whole office is basically going to sign off on this, or under some sort of enterprise bargaining agreement. That the whole office basically says, “Yes. That’s the deal and that’s why we like it.”
Carolyn Mather: Well, we’re a bit concerned that there might be the opposite. It might contravene any sort of discrimination laws. So, we did a couple of things. We took it to the board and the board was unanimous in understanding the reasons for it and approving of the concept. We also took it to a team meeting. All the staff and we are relatively a small team but we’re basically 50% men, 50% women. When we explained the reasons to what we wanted to do, everybody voted unanimously in favor.
So we got everybody’s agreement, but we also thought we had cover ourselves, just to make sure that we weren’t going to breach anything other than getting, backing us– everybody agreeing was actually to take it and just to make we weren’t breaching anything, so we did actually apply to keep that. Essentially, we did not need an exemption from discrimination, which is really good. Basically, that was the final field that we can go ahead with it.
Ross Greenwood: Okay. For another employer that might be listening out there, you’re saying, it was relatively straightforward.
Carolyn Mather: Yes.
Ross Greenwood: It wasn’t that difficult to jump over the hurdles.
Carolyn Mather: No.
Ross Greenwood: Okay. Then the next part about this is, just explain your own workplace? Because I’m presuming given some of those programs that you spoke about but also even the superannuation, that the number of female staff that you would lose from that organization would be relatively small.
Carolyn Mather: Yes. For example, when we started this initiative, we’re a team of 10, five men, five women. We’re now a team of eight, same ratio. Look, we’re a small company. Part of our thing about this is that you don’t have to be huge, like in ANZ, to implement this initiative. We are little not-for-profit training center, where we run– hire simulation, our training, as well as the conference and venue hire sort of areas.
We have many tenants on-site to our CEO and they basically offer training to attendees. What we said as part of our– what we thought as part of our business approach has been that we offer healthy things to our tenants and their staff as well as our team. Now obviously, the superannuation is a initiative that is up to each individual company, but we like to say, “Well, everybody can do it.” So, try and lead the way.
Ross Greenwood: It’s not a bad thing. In fact, I’ve got to tell you, it’s a very good story, but I think it’s insightful into what many other organizations can actually do into the future. The way in which people themselves think about this superannuation and the superannuation of those around them, as well. Carolyn Mather, is the Finance and Risk Manager at Construction Training Center in Salisbury in Queensland, paying women 1% more superannuation than men. Carolyn, many thanks for your time on the program today.
Carolyn Mather: Thank you, Ross.
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