The banking giant ANZ, are the first of Australia’s banking corporations to announce they will be increasing super contributions for some female staff, in a bid to combat the gender financial gap. Both the superannuation industry and women’s advocacy groups are applauding ANZ’s move to provide superannuation contributions of $500 a year for female staff with less than $50,0000 in their super funds, in an attempt to minimise the gap in retirement savings between men and women.

Super contributions on parental leave will also be paid by the bank for up to 24 months.

This announcement comes hot on the heels of a recent report commissioned by ANZ  which revealed that women retired with, on average half the amount of super of men. Furthermore the report claimed that women were 15 per cent more likely to experience poverty in retirement and across a lifetime, where full-time working women earned $700,000 less than men.

This increase to women’s super could have significant benefits not only for future women joining the workforce but also overall quality of life , as access to a greater amount of retirement savings would have a positive effect not only on the individual woman but her extended family.

The bank’s chief executive of global wealth, Joyce Phillips believes that while these measures won’t completely solve the problem, they are a step in the right direction.

“ Over time, we believe these new measures will help improve the financial security of women at ANZ by directly targeting the areas of advice, superannuation and financial education” he was quoted saying in the Australian Financial Review last week.

Many prominent political figures are applauding the ANZ’s actions, with Green’s industrial relations spokesman Adam Bandt requesting a Senate inquiry into women’s superannuation savings following ANZ’s announcement. However there have been mixed reactions from the public.

Last week after the announcement was made via different online media publications, many individuals wrote in or commented on the page arguing that this treatment of female ANZ customers was just as discriminating to gender.

One reader of an article in The Australian regarding the ANZ announcement wrote: “If we are providing financial benefits to a woman purely because of her gender, isn’t that just as bad as paying a man more for the same role? Where  do we draw the line?

Mr. Bandt has disregarded this belief stating that it isn’t an issue of gender but of inequality, and we all have a right to fight for gender equality.

“On average, women have $44,000 in their super account, compared to $82,000 for men. This is an extreme level of inequality. In some instances women are left in poverty once reaching retirement. ANZ are trying to do the right thing by their employees; men and women” he said in a statement made to the Financial Review last Wednesday morning.

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