Ian Silk

Australian Super CEO
In his own words . . .

Why commit to gender balance?

Achieving gender diversity and equity is important to the national economy and the broader Australian community. It’s something we need to address collectively and as a matter of urgency.

AustralianSuper aims to have a workforce that is diverse and reflects our membership and broader community. This is an important part of building our organisational capability. In short, we will be better able to serve the best interests of our members if we have a workforce that has gender equity as a hallmark.

The fund pursues a number of initiatives to promote improved workforce diversity outcomes, particularly in regard to gender balance, pay equity and flexible work arrangements. AustralianSuper also has a focus on addressing the gender super gap. While the gender pay gap in Australia is 15.3% the gender super gap is much worse with women retiring with an average 47% less super than men. That’s a significant gap, particularly as women generally live longer than men. Equality of pay, equality of opportunity and more equal sharing of family responsibilities are all necessary to close a gap which results in too many women having insufficient savings to fund a comfortable retirement. 

AustralianSuper is also working to address gender equity in our own operations. 

A key focus of the Fund's Investments department intern and graduate program is to ensure we have at least 50% of women represented at each intake. The promotion of our intern and graduate offering and initiatives has resulted in more applications from female candidates. AustralianSuper has managed to meet or exceed the 50% target for both intern and graduate programs over the past year and continue to develop the women we have recruited into this program over the past five years. The Fund has also made industry leading changes to parental leave entitlements. 

AustralianSuper's talent program also includes specific development to build the people leadership and strategic skills of women. This year the Fund invited talented women identified as emerging leaders within our Investments group to participate in a program called ‘Thrive to Lead’. The program is designed to support the transition to leadership roles by developing participants’ authentic leadership style, confidence to lead, presence, communication and stakeholder. 

AustralianSuper also wrote to 17 ASX200 companies last year notifying them of our policy of voting against director re-election with single gender boards, unless the company could demonstrate its commitment to gender diversity in the future.

If there is to be real change in relation to gender equity then it needs to be supported and monitored by the leaders in the business community. Achieving gender equity requires a collaborative and collective effort. By working together, organisations can show they are committed to the cause of gender equity, signal that it is an important national issue that requires change, and also share learnings and experiences to help achieve the goal as soon as possible.