Financial outcomes for women have improved nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic but Generation Z is at risk of being left behind, the latest Financy Women’s Index (FWX) shows.
The Financy Index rose 2% to 73.6 points in the September quarter from 72.2 points in June and is up 6% on its September 2019 result. The latest result was helped by a closing of key gender gaps in women on company boards, the employment and underemployment rates.
However, experts are warning that this is a cautionary tale of women’s economic progress.
Deloitte’s analysis of the Financy Women’s Index report
Rhiannon Yetsenga, an Economist at Deloitte Access Economics expounded on the insights.
“The rise in this quarter’s results were predominantly driven by an improvement in the underemployment sub-index, up 10% quarter-on-quarter however female underemployment weakened in the September quarter, rising to 10.2% in September compared to 9.2% in June.”
During the September quarter women suffered a 2.8% drop in the number of monthly hours worked but men saw a 3.2% fall as they bore the brunt of lockdown-related job cuts.
This produced a 0.3% improvement in the FWX Employment Sub-Index.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Detailed Labour Force data shows that of the 19 key industries, female employment declined in 5 sectors and male employment fell in all of them.
Social analysis of the Financy Women’s Index
Nicki Hutley, a social impact economist said, “Women’s progress must come from genuine improvements in equality against a backdrop of greater well-being for both men and women.”
“Policy makers must therefore seek with utmost vigor, to restore prosperity for all employees while embedding policies that genuinely leverage and address gender equity.”
Full-time employment of women under 25yrs continue to lag both genders and all age groups.
The Financy Women’s Index showed that the numbers were considerably down by 9% in the September quarter and were 10% lower in full and part-time jobs for September 2019 figures.
Executive analysis of the Financy Women’s Index
Bianca Hartge-Hazelman, the Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Financy analysed the data.
“The biggest risk experienced in moving forward is that women, particularly those aged under 25 years, emerge from the pandemic in a far worse financial position than when it began.”
“There are increased barriers preventing women from indulging in jobs to their desired capacity and they affect the immediacy at which a person can take advantage of opportunities.”
Effie Zahos, an independent director at InvestSMART noted that whereas there is a great variety of work to be done, progress for women has a wide impact on the nation’s economy.
“The Federal Government’s Women’s Budget Statement 2021-22 noted that given the scenario where women are considered to be economically secure, benefits accrue to everyone.”
“Benefactors may include the families, the business community and the broader economy.”
Women in leadership continue to make progress. The number of women on ASX 200 boards rose to a fresh high of 34% in September, before dipping slightly in more recent figures.
Overall, it will now take 29.5 years for equality in employment which is down from 29.8 years.
13.7 years for equality in underemployment is down from 16.1 years and 6.7 years of sustained progress at current rates to reach equality in gender diversity on ASX 200 boards.
“The presence of successful women in leadership roles will encourage a new generation of girls to aim high while smashing gender barriers and stereotypes along the way,” said Ms Hutley.
“As we last updated the gender pay gap data in the Financy Women’s Index report that was released June, it remains at 21.3 years for equality to be achieved in average wages.”
“Other areas of the Index will be updated in the December report and now stand at 39.8 years to close the superannuation gender gap and 101 years for the unpaid work gender gap.”
AMP Capital analyses the Financy Women’s Index
Dr Shane Oliver, the Chief Economist at AMP Capital said that two very important aspects have become clear to the population, especially derived from the experiences of the pandemic.
“First, pandemic or not we still have a long way to go to reach financial equality for women.”
“And second, the revolution in flexible working helped by technology but finally unleashed by the pandemic has offered a path towards rapidly addressing the financial gender gap.”
“The key is for governments to help facilitate it and for employers and women to embrace it.”