4 ways to be a financial feminist in 2021: understanding financial equality

by Verve

It’s 2021 and millions of women still face profound adversity and inequality every single day. From being stripped of the right to reproductive choice in Texas, to missing out on a promotion because your employer is worried that you might take parental leave — inequality is a reality for all women. But what does being a ‘financial feminist’ in 2021 have to do with any of that? In short: a whole lot. 

While it’s profoundly unjust that women are asked to both suffer the consequences of inequality and also spend time advocating against it, we know that this is one effective way of achieving change. If you have the capacity (mental, emotional, physical or financial), then advocating for equality and the financial power of women can be a vital feminist act. 

Before we dive in, it helps to understand the link between financial equality and wider feminist issues – including reproductive rights and ending gendered violence.

What is financial equality?

Financial equality, or economic equality, means everyone having equal access to financial wealth. To achieve financial equality for women as a society, we need to close the gender pay gap, compensate women for unpaid domestic labour, address the retirement savings gap between men and women, and provide equal access to capital for female business owners. The list goes on. 

With actual economic empowerment comes political and social influence. And together, this is a powerful combination for change. Understanding how financial equality is a crucial piece of the feminist puzzle, you can better elevate your voice, and the voices of other women and marginalised groups. 

Reading this very article suggests you’ve already started the process of taking charge of your money – nice one! Maintain this momentum by upping your financial literacy, creating money goals and improving your money system.

1. Shop with women and non-binary owned and led business 

This one is as simple as it sounds. Whether you’re shopping locally or not,  buying from women-owned businesses is a way of supporting systems change. Consider who owns your go-to companies, from your local cafe to your favourite online retailer. If we want diversity in our business leaders, we need to support them to get to the top.

2. Invest in equality

“Money and power can liberate, only if they are used to do so” – Maya Angelou. 

From making personal donations to where you choose to invest your superannuation, the way you use your money can have a profound impact on driving the world towards equality. 

The work can start at home. Gaining a comprehensive view of your personal finances can lead to a better awareness of how the power of money is impacting women everywhere. You can begin by evaluating your existing investments – including superannuation, your bank, any shares or ETFs. How you invest and which bank you choose to save with can all be chosen ethically, if you wish, but not all options are automatically ethical. 

For example, some banks and superannuation funds still provide funding or directly invest in damaging industries like fossil fuels, weapons and tobacco. If you’d prefer to use your investment power for good, you can switch to an ethical super fund, like Verve Super, or an ethical bank, like Bank Australia. 

At Verve, we recently became the first Australian superannuation fund to prioritise our investments into companies that are leading the way on gender equality through activities related to the pay gap, parental leave and women in leadership. Now, you can choose to invest your superannuation with a super fund that is taking action on gender inequality. 

3. Advocate for equality workplace 

There’s a few things to unpack here…

First, you can ask yourself if you’re being paid fairly for the work you do? We know the gender pay gap exists in Australia – currently 14.2%. The Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) recently revealed that women earn, on average, $261.50 less per week when compared to men in equivalent roles. The good news is that companies that complete gender audits are currently closing the pay gap much quicker. 

Then, if you feel comfortable doing so, try to advocate for yourself and other women and non-binary colleagues in the workplace. This can include talking openly about wages, and encouraging employers to complete gender audits, or simply asking for a pay rise to ensure you’re being paid in line with colleagues in similar roles. 

This extends to advocating for women in circumstances that don’t directly impact you. For example, improved conditions for parents returning to work or better parental leave, policies and expectations preventing harassment and discrimination. Other impactful ways to support equality in the workplace include: acknowledging country, frequent sharing of pronouns and requesting gender neutral bathrooms. 

It also pays to understand how workplace standards directly impact a woman’s ability to thrive. A supportive, respectful and balanced workplace can be directly linked to productivity, longevity and improved quality of work. What’s not to love about that?

Finally, for you freelancers and self-employed folk: it’s time to charge your worth. If you’re an employer, you’re also in a position to pay women, and other marginalised people, fairly. It shouldn’t be something that needs highlighting but we’ll keep repeating ourselves until there is equal compensation for the work done, for all. Aside from the gender pay gap being a national problem, research also tells us that many women price themselves out. A recent study found that women consultants charge an average of 26% less per project than men (in some industries the gap is over 80%), without any justification other than an industry’s gender bias.

4. Address women’s unpaid labour 

Let’s dig deeper on this one. Having children can dramatically impact cis men and women differently. Typically, becoming a parent negatively impacts a woman’s salary but is found to positively impact a man’s wage

This also coincides with the unpaid labour carried out by mothers, while either taking a career break or still while working. Unpaid parental leave isn’t the only financial impact of parenthood. Many employers do not continue to make super contributions during an employee’s parental leave period. This significantly impacts a person’s future retirement savings. 

Whether you are a parent or work with those who are, you can help to address women’s unpaid labour by advocating for employers to pay super during parental leave. Another way to compensate the unpaid labour of mothers is by superannuation contribution splitting. If you have a partner who is still working, they are able to split their superannuation payment with the partner who is caring for the child at home. 

Don’t stop there.

Keep talking about money with your friends and family. The topic of money has long been taboo (particularly for women) but it gets easier when we’re all on a level playing field. 

Educating young people to have the confidence to talk about money can help to shift society’s bias too. 

Being conscious of your money, taking charge of how you use it and demanding equality in how it is distributed is a bold feminist act — because money is power and women deserve more of both. 

For more money management tools, Verve Members can take Step One of our money and mindset course.

A friendly reminder that all the financial information contained in this blog is general and doesn’t take into account your personal financial objectives, situation or needs. It’s important to do your own research and consider getting in touch with a professional adviser to access specific advice tailored to your unique situation. When considering if Verve Super is appropriate for you, please read the PDS available on our website.

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