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Women in advice: Closing the gender gap

According to The Economist: 'a woman doing the same job for the same employer earns 98 cents to the dollar paid to a man. Yet the gender pay gap persists. In the OECD, a club of mostly rich countries, the median full-time wage for women is 85% of that for men.'

Only 20% of Australia's 24,000 advisers are female. This needs to change. Opinions vary greatly on how to achieve this. At one end of the scale is the nuclear option of quotas. They'll do the job but at what cost? At the other end lie the laissez-faire crowd that point to equal numbers of young men and women enrolling for financial planning University degrees and prefer time to work its magic.

Stanford Brown is opposed to quotas but we feel more is required than simply to wait a decade and hope.

The Economist offers up two ideas; 'well-designed parental leave ....and companies offering more flexibility to all their employees.'

We agree wholeheartedly with both. Last year, Stanford Brown extensively revamped and improved its parental leave policies and instituted a Return to Work program for new mums. We have abolished work hours, eased restrictions on work-from-home and scrapped limits on holiday. We want our staff to work where they are most productive, work when they are most productive and to take the vacation they need to stay productive. We believe this will help our working mums the most.

But we offer a third, and more controversial, solution - we are making our diversity data public. The data can be found below. We report on our ethnic mix, our gender mix, the gender pay gap, the number of women in leadership roles at SB and the number of women in advice. We hope this will focus the minds of our hiring managers.

We have significant diversity of ethnicity and gender, and a healthy mix of men and women in leadership roles. And we have a zero gender pay gap. However, just 23% of our advisers are female. Though this number rises to 33% if we include those on our Pathway to Advice Program, this is not good enough and needs to change.

We are not social justice warriors. Far from it. Having a healthy balance of men and women, of different cultures, of personality types and ages, encourages constructive conflict and produces more innovative teams that make better decisions. Balance is good for business. It's as simple as that.

4 comments so far
  Ever since I've spent the last 20 years in this industry it has always been 20% women to male advisers. And very few ever go for their own AFSL. Pay inequity and the gender gap has been the background of all my working life. A great way for women to manage that unequal situation is to go into their own business so they can have the flexibility and create their own salary.
Financial planning is a great business for women and more could be done to encourage and support women to get set up in their own business and create their own future for themselves.
PHILIPPA HUNT  |  3 APR 2018   8.37AM
  I have been in the industry for 11 years. When I first started I can remember walking into a PD day with no other female. This industry is slowly changing, however, I worry about women who are planning on taking a break to start their family. This industry needs to adapt its training so that women planning on taking a break are not subjected to the same rules on PD points. Enable us to take some time out of the industry and know we can return without being subjected to unnecessary training. A suggestion... part time hours... pro-rata PD points perhaps?
KIRBY SMITH  |  3 APR 2018   10.17AM
  I suspect that the low female adviser numbers mirror the low take up of mathematics by girls for more than 30 years, and an education system that appeased this poor outcome by underweighting the importance of numerical skills, rather than addressing the real issue of female confidence in this area. Hopefully recent changes encouraging woman into STEM subjects will see a flow on effect to boost numbers in our industry too.
GRANT SIMPSON  |  3 APR 2018   11.25AM
  We are an all female practice which is even rarer. we are thrilled to offer financial planning services and a strong role model to our girls and women in society. We are very passionate about making a difference, there is no such thing as can't and we want to empower everyone we touch. Women can do it and they need a cheering squad and if you don't have one you need to find one. We cheer for all women.
SVETLANA VRZOVSKI  |  3 APR 2018   12.22PM
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