ANZ to top up KiwiSaver for staff on parental leave

Global Women partner ANZ is helping close the gender gap in retirement savings by announcing yesterday it will top up KiwiSaver contributions for staff on parental leave. This is a first for New Zealand and a move ANZ hopes will inspire other organisations to do the same.

ANZ general manager human resources Felicity Evans said ANZ’s move was part of a wider campaign to help close the gap. It is projected that as it stands, New Zealand women, on average, will retire with $60,000 less than men.

“One factor is that many women take time out of work to raise families and stop contributing to KiwiSaver during this time,” Evans said. “To help close this gap, we have decided to pay KiwiSaver employer contributions for staff taking parental leave. This applies to male and female staff. We have done this because we do not want our staff to be penalised for taking time out to raise families.”

The announcement was ushered in by a moving short film by award-winning filmmaker Jane Campion highlighting the fact girls start out so far ahead of boys yet the system isn’t designed for women to succeed.

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With the wider campaign Equal Future, for every public post shared with the hashtag #equalfuture ANZ will donate $1 to International Women’s Development Agency up to the amount of $100,000.

ANZ is one of New Zealand’s largest employers, with more than 9000 staff. Around 200 ANZ staff take parental leave at any given time. The company already provides 16 weeks a year of parental leave on full pay and has confirmed it will increase this to 18 weeks from next year.The new KiwiSaver top-up benefit will apply to any ANZ staff taking parental leave from October this year.

Retirement Commissioner, Diane Maxwell was at the event yesterday and said the initiative is the kind of innovation that shows what a key role employers can play.

“It will raise balances as well as attracting and retaining staff. It also sends a strong signal that time out to have children is a workable and positive part of an employment relationship. ANZ’s move says we have come a long way in how we think about combining family and work, and as mum to a teenage daughter I think it’s a significant shift,” she says.

ANZ also presented latest research on women’s progress in education, the workplace and retirement. It has launched a new online hub Wise Women for women to access tips on money and investing as well as a series of seminars to help women close the gender gap in retirement savings.

ANZ general manager Wealth Products and Marketing Ana-Marie Lockyer said eight years into KiwiSaver, average balances for women members of the ANZ KiwiSaver Scheme were almost 28 percent lower than men (at $8,918 and $11,396, respectively).

“Disappointingly, this savings gap between men and women is widening. A year ago the gap between men and women’s balances was 26.5%. There is little to suggest that women will close this gap – in fact, it could widen over time as women take career breaks to raise a family. We estimate that women on average are likely to retire with $144,000, compared to $203,000 for men – that’s significantly less money, particularly when you consider it potentially needs to last longer.*

See the behind-the-scenes footage of Campion’s film here (the Japanese girl is a blackbelt):

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*Base assumptions:Based on 25-year-olds, earning the average wage of $44,000 for men and $33,000 for women, each contributing 3% of their salaries, with their employers also contributing 3%. The woman takes a two-year break from contributing to KiwiSaver at the age of 30, while the man does not. The woman retires two years earlier at age 65 while the man retires at 67.

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