Mid-way through 2015 the ANZ bank in Australia opted to join the chorus of ‘enlightened’ corporate entities banging the feminist drum at their customers expense.
The bank’s first step was to release the ANZ Women’s Report: ‘Barriers to Achieving Financial Gender Equity’. And no, in case you wondered, there is no corresponding ANZ Men’s Report. There never is. This despite the fact that, in this instance, many men also “fall behind and retire in poverty“.
“For many years people have been trying to tackle issues around gender equality by asking men and women to change. This approach will not work.
What we need to do is to look at the systems that are holding women back from achieving their full potential. And when we’re talking about systems we’re referring to structures and practices in our schools, workplaces, businesses and community that reinforce biases. These systems need to be redesigned so they are fairer for women, recognise the unique strengths and talents of both genders, and equally support the success of both genders.”
So apparently we can’t ask women to change what they’re doing, even if it directly contributes to their predicament. Nope, we have to change the “systems“.
Since then various related ‘initiatives’ have emerged such as ideologically correct videos (below), and a decision to contribute an additional $500 into the superannuation accounts of female staff based on the feminist misinterpretation of the gender paygap.
Being unhappy about witnessing this regressive move I contacted the bank, firstly via Twitter and then email, to express my concern and dissatisfaction. Our subsequent email exchange is shown below:
“Thanks for getting in touch with us to provide feedback relating to ANZ Women’s Initiative that was launched on the 29 July 2015. This kind of feedback is valuable to us because it helps us better understand what’s important to our customers.
ANZ is committed to being a socially responsible bank, and we believe that from time to time we have a responsibility to take action on important social issues. We understand that some of our customers and employees hold different views on our decision to make additional superannuation contributions for our female employees, and we respect your right to hold this view.
Research shows that in Australia, women retire with 47% less superannuation than men – and 1 in 5 women yet to retire has no superannuation at all. This is driven by a range of complex factors. However, on average women retire earlier and live longer than men, so the importance of having enough superannuation is even greater for women.
ANZ has weighed up all of these factors and is comfortable that the payment to female staff is a positive step that will help women to overcome the gap.
ANZ takes the issue of discrimination very seriously and in developing these new measures considered the relevant Sex Discrimination and Anti-Discrimination Laws. The payment is permitted under Australia’s anti-discrimination laws because it is a “special measure” designed to address this super gap that our research clearly demonstrates between men and women.
Our action has the full support of the Sex Discrimination Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission. The Sex Discrimination Commissioner advised ANZ that, in her view, ANZ’s initiative is consistent with the objects of the Federal Sex Discrimination Act. ANZ has also been given a 10 year exemption from the NSW Anti-Discrimination Commission (because NSW is the only State where the anti-discrimination legislation does not contain a “special measures” exception).
ANZ views this initiative as a positive step to support women and help close this gap in superannuation savings so they have greater security in retirement. While you may disagree, we do appreciate you taking the time to provide us with this feedback.”
I wrote back to the bank:
“Thank you for your prompt response. I disagree with your rationale for promoting feminist policies at the expense of your customers and shareholders. My original position on this matter remains unchanged and unresolved.
1. Whether women retire with less or nil Super is a reflection of their personal choice. Choice about what type of training they undertook, choice about what field of work in which they seek employment, choice about how much overtime they do, choice about whether they take time out during their careers.
2. Those women who choose to get married often then have the choice to be stay at home mum’s (and be supported by their partner) or not. Most women enter marriage with less assets then their partners, or in debt. Most divorces are initiated by women, who then tend to walk away often with in excess of 50% of their partners assets, even when those assests were accumulated prior to the marriage.
3. The wage gap is a much debunked misrepresentation of the true situation in relation to income received by men and women and cannot be validly used to ‘prove’ gender discrimination. That issue is discussed in this article – http://www.fighting4fair.com/
4. Women live longer in large part because disproportionately more is spent on research into womens health and on the treatment of womens health issues, and because men are more likely employed in relatively more stressful and higher risk occupations (one reason why they are, on average, in receipt of higher incomes)
In summary for every disadvantage suffered by women there are benefits or advantages, as is the case for men. Therefore it is inappropriate and discriminatory to single out women for incentives/rewards for real or imagined discrimination faced by them, but at the same time to ignore issues that negatively impact on men.
The fact that the additional payment to women by ANZ was ratified by the former AHRC sex-discrimination commissioner is more a reflection of her partiality and gender bias rather than vindication that ANZ’s policy was truly a fair and appropriate one. That issue is discussed in this article – http://www.fighting4fair.com/
And the bank duly wrote back:
“Thank you for your email and further feedback which has been noted. As your concern is regarding a policy decision made by ANZ, the Customer Advocate will not become involved. It is not the role of the Customer Advocate to review or change a matter that relates to ANZ’s setting of staff benefits. If you wish to escalate your concern you may contact the Financial Ombudsman Service.”
Whereupon I said:
“Thank you for your prompt response but my concerns with ANZ’s decision to re-orientate itself in lockstep with feminism philosophy runs deeper than simply the $500 payment to female staff. In the absence of other options I will now investigate/consider the appropriateness of lodging a submission with the Financial Ombudsman Service”
It’s not just banks doing this … it’s not just about financial benefits … and the implications extend beyond staff of the relevant company
Since forever many companies have wanted to do good in their local communities, or at least be seen to do good. Until recently they were content to do things like sponsor a local football team or make a donation to a charity. Although the worthy causes were usually unrelated to the business of the company, these were small benign gestures that troubled no-one. How quickly that has changed in the space of just a few years.
Now were are seeing companies expend large amounts of money and time on causes that can be polarising and contentious. The implications of adopting (often judgmental) public positions on these issues or causes can flow through to staff, customers, shareholders and then out into the broader community.
With the superannuation issue there was a tangible benefit for staff, well, for some staff. As this trends builds, and with these other issues, there are both carrots and sticks being employed. The sticks can include shunning/shaming or even dismissal for staff who don’t embrace the company line and engage in wrong-think.
“Solicitors have complained of being intimidated at their workplaces if they publicly criticise the endorsement of same-sex marriage by their professional association and law firms … He said it was wrong for the Law Society and the Bar Association to express any view on same-sex marriage because it was peripheral to the central concerns of both organisations.”
Westpac under fire over same sex marriage email (5 October 2017)
“Westpac has been forced to defend an email from a staff networking group telling fellow employees to vote Yes in the same-sex marriage survey, erroneously claiming that doing so would prevent 3000 suicides a year”
What? No, Women Shouldn’t Be Paid More Super Than Men, by Corrine Barraclough (26 May 2017)
Why we’re backing women, by Lorraine Murphy, National Australia Bank (6 March 2017)
Young women can budget in the short term but struggle with long-term investments: survey (14 February 2017) A very gynocentric article, but which does support the value of addressing financial literacy/skill to enhance post-retirement financial status.
Banks preaching about gender wage gap myth, by Rita Panahi (28 October 2016)
Female tech leadership to get $1m boost (4 October 2016)
Shareholders slam CBA’s ‘diversity’ bonus (27 September 2016) Australia
Angus Aitken out at Bell Potter after ANZ Michelle Jablko email (26 May 2016) with further background to this episode in this interview with Kate Jenkins
Tweet from Paul Edwards, Group GM Corporate Communications at ANZ. So now it’s forbidden to criticise women in the finance sector (misogyny!). In the words of Miranda Devine: “Where is the sexism? You know what damages women? Cheap virtue signalling PC BS like this”
Australian bank buys into the gender pay gap rubbish (9 April 2016) with related Reddit discussion thread here. Note the observation about the Bank disabling comments on their Facebook page and cleansing earlier comments – as feminists are wont to do.
Australian bank ANZs new ad. Pushing the wage gap myth on children (March 2016) Reddit mensrights discussion thread
ANZ pays women extra super (31 August 2015) A very long-running discussion in the Whirlpool online forum
ANZ bank giving female employees an extra $500 to correct gender pay gap (August 2015) Reddit mensrights discussion thread
ANZ Bank launches a super deal for female employees (29 July 2015)
This article suggests that women might be better off considering the impact of financial literacy on their retirement savings, rather than complaining about the wage gap.