From the time she starts school or walks into her first job, the number one thing women are constantly learning is how to negotiate.
And it is these skills – along with the addition of strong role models – that will help members of the fairer sex excel in the workplace, according to one financial expert.
“It’s important for women to be in decision-making levels to help reshape the culture of organisations,” explained a non-executive director of the Commonwealth Bank Carolyn Kay.
“There are many studies – by Harvard, Catalyst [and] McKinsey to name a few – that show strong correlation between organisations with women at the top and the relative success of those organisations.”
Ms Kay made the comments at the Women in Leadership forum, which was held in Sydney on February 20.
The research she refers to shows that organisations with three or more women in senior management positions regularly outperform companies that only employ men in these roles.
But despite these insights, it seems that women are underrepresented when it comes to sharing the top jobs between the sexes.
Recent statistics from the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency (EOWA) show that new appointments in ASX 200 companies are still more likely to go to men.
Yet this is something that is slowly changing – in 2011 29 per cent of these positions went to women, which is an increase on the 25 per cent figure from 2010.
However, there are calls to speed up the rate of progress in order to better promote business and women.
Ms Kay feels that changing corporate culture for the better involves promoting more women to executive positions, which comes with the added benefits of “increasing the tax base, supporting the ageing population and lifting the household savings rate”.
But these are just some of the reasons why improvements to the earning capacity of women can help them plan for the future.
Research shows that women are living longer and have higher levels of education than at any other point in history.
They also have different financial needs to men due primarily to the fact that women often leave full-time work to have children or take on a caring role in the family, which are both decisions that have financial repercussions.
In some workplaces it may be challenging for women to return to their previous role after these life-changing events, while others may not have family-friendly hours or the necessary childcare incentives in place to make part-time work a viable option.
Ms Kay believes that changing the corporate culture of many organisations will help to reduce these barriers to the workplace and make it easier for women to hold down top jobs, with gender equality playing an important role in effective business management.
Women in business also bring different qualities and skills to the workplace that can be hard to replicate, which is another reason for employment.
The comments made at the Women in Leadership forum are also in keeping with a number of women in senior positions, who feel that the directive for change needs to come from above and are calling on business to encourage women in the workplace.
Underpinning this discussion is also a genuine need to improve the financial circumstances of women and help them prepare for periods when they may not be able to participate in the workplace such as child rearing and later retirement.
In these situations seeking financial advice may help women of all ages better manage their finances and improve the economic security of households across the nation by introducing greater gender equality.
ipac is one of Australia’s largest financial advisory firms and has offices based across the country. A wholly-owned subsidiary of the AMP Group, ipac specialises in research and financial advice that helps clients lead happier, more fulfilling lives.