Tax | Superannuation

Income gap is multi-generational problem

The retirement income gap is a multi-generational problem, Senator for NSW and Senate Standing Committee for Economics, Senator Jenny McAllister has told a CEDA event in Melbourne.

“There’s a sense that this gender pay gap in superannuation is a legacy issue associated with an older generation who were not as connected to the workforce as the current generation,” she said.

“Actually for the current generation of school leavers we will see exactly the same pattern if we don’t have an intervention of some kind.”

Ms McAllister said the retirement income gender gap cannot be solved by just looking at superannuation or the aged pension.

“Our retirement system is based on a combination of voluntary private savings, compulsory contributions and the aged pension,” she said.

Any solution to the gender income gap in retirement needs to look at three things as well as health and housing which are the two big costs in retirement, she said.

Also speaking at the event Workplace Gender Equality Agency Director, Libby Lyons said the gender income gap effects half of our population and households so everyone needs to be involved in implementing change.

Ms Lyons said that policies are good but developing a strategy in companies is better.

“Strategies are important, reporting is important, monitoring is important,” she said.

The gender income gap is an issue for boards and company executives, she said.

“Reporting and monitoring to executive is vital but crucial to this is reporting to the board and the board taking accountability,” she said.

On the income gap, ANZ Global Wealth Chief Executive, Joyce Phillips said women are denied the equivalent of a house because of their gender and that plays our during their career.

“That pay gap is $700,000 during the life of a woman, that’s the cost of a house,” she said.

Ms Phillips said innovation and finding new ways to solve the problem is important.

“I think we have to bring fresh thinking and new ideas to solve this very complicated matter,” she said.

Exploring strategies including acceptance of non-traditional leadership styles, introducing more paid parental leave, increasing superannuation for female employees and offering free financial advice should be designed to create equality for men and women, she said.

Asciano Human Resources, Corporate Affairs and Customer Director, Alex Badenoch said diversity is needed to thrive in the three simple business pillars; the need to innovate, financial reasons and education.

Discussing Asciano, Ms Badenoch said the logistics sector is forecasting employment growth but with an ageing workforce it needs to attract new employees.

“There is a very compelling case for us as a business needing much better access to the total employment market and it’s fairly hard to defy that logic,” she said.

“Innovation is important and diversity is a necessary ingredient if we want to become more innovative.”