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It’s time to lean in

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Superannuation Companies need to lean in.

Or we could see a generation of women retiring in poverty.superannuation

Last month, research by the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia found one in three women have no super savings: zero, zip, nada.

Those who do?  Well, it’s about half as much as men, at an average of $105,000 compared with $197,000.

We know the reasons: taking time out to bear children or care for relatives; working part-time or job share; and the 17.5 per cent     gender pay gap.

As the CEO of ASFA Pauline Vamos  writes on the Money Smart website,“ Addressing this gap will require action, from both government and from individuals”.

Ms. Vamos is urging the federal  government to  lower the threshold on the superannuation guarantee, and reinstate the Low Income Super Contribution of  $500p/a for those who earn less than $37,000 (which the Coalition plans to repeal).

She’s also launched the Super Sorter Power Hour, encouraging us to consolidate unnecessary accounts to avoid paying extra fees, ask employers about salary sacrifice, and search for lost savings.

These are worthwhile measures  – but surely the  funds have a role to play as well. Some employers now have strategies to  address the gender superannuation gap.

Some employers now have strategies to  address the gender superannuation gap. 

Consulting firm  Rice Warner received an exemption from the Sex Discrimination Act to redress the imbalance.

Deputy CEO Melissa Fuller came up with a package of incentives, in which women are paid 2 per cent more retirement income than men, and earn superannuation
during the firm’s 18 weeks of paid parental leave, plus a further 12 months of unpaid leave.

Surely superannuation firms should follow suit, offering    incentives to women to  switch funds…?

One of those looking at  the problem is the CEO of Media Super, Graeme Russell, who’s involved in the ‘Save the LISC’ campaign.

He’s also lobbying the government to ensure super contributions are part of any Paid Parental Leave scheme. “Women taking career  breaks need every bit of support they can be given,” Mr. Russell says. Media Super is looking at reducing  account fees for people  with punctuated careers – who    are predominantly  women.

There are very strict rules and  regulations in this area,  but we’re exploring possibilities,” he says.

As an extra step, Australian Ethical advises women to seek “complete transparency” around where their money is invested.

If you don’t want your  funds invested in weapons, slave labour and gambling you need to be with a fund that is transparent and, if they are not, consider switching,” a spokesperson says.

Let’s commit to sending an email to our  super funds, asking one simple  question: What are you doing for women?      

Until government and business get on board, all  we can do is shove money into our accounts during the times of feast to prepare for the famine.

In the words of  Pauline Vamos, “The bottom line is: women live  longer than men and they are going to need to look after themselves”.

 


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