It’s time to normalise financial conversations to improve money fairness for women

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Source: Unsplash.

It’s a modern day truth, and sadly accepted fact, that women are still not paid the same as men. For the better part of a decade, countries have marked Equal Pay Days, which have done little more than enshrine a date on which women stop getting paid for the equivalent job they do in comparison to their male counterparts. 

While this is an important discussion starter, it doesn’t go anywhere near addressing the totality of the problem. When we look at a purely binary conversation about gender, which is still insufficient in today’s inclusive world, the fundamental challenge facing many women is that they don’t know what “good” looks like when it comes to money management. 

Research from Lonergan, commissioned by Afterpay, shows this issue could stem from the fact that, fundamentally, the conversation about money — how we make, spend and save it — is still broken. The survey of more than 2000 Australian adults found an overwhelming 81% believe the topic of finances and money is taboo. When you break this down further, it shows almost two-thirds (62%) of women believe they are at a greater disadvantage than men as a result of money being a sensitive topic, compared to less than half (46%) of men who believe this to be true. 

This is the real starting point. Talking openly about something builds more comfort which in turn inspires confidence. And the numbers prove it out, with men claiming to be more confident in their understanding of money (43%) compared to women (31%), and further women are more likely to describe money as ‘stressful’ (36%) compared to men (27%). 

The twist in the story is this: women who do have money confidence can potentially perform better than their male peers, especially when it comes to the area of investing. 

We could waste time debating the idea that discussions about money should start at home or in schools. But the truth is parents and teachers are already punching well above their weight in terms of looking after the next generation. So, what if the answer to this problem wasn’t gender-based after all but rather one we could tackle generationally? 

The next generation is undoubtedly ready to break down the well-worn money barriers and start a real and open conversation. In stark contrast to generations past, 79% of Gen Zs are comfortable discussing their salary with their friends and 75% are comfortable chatting about their savings. 

For a group arguably at the beginning of their money management journey, Gen Zs recognise open money conversations would give them clearer goals to benchmark against (41%) and better access to first-hand tips and tricks (41%). 

The only thing holding them back is that more than half fear judgement and one-third feel nervous that their position will reveal they are lagging behind their peers. 

This is where the real opportunity lies, not just to support women or the next generation but everyone. Building a safe space with a true sense of community that helps people build up their own trust and confidence in themselves as well as their ability to manage their money is the next frontier in financial education. 

Creating a community with a connection to others that helps offer insights, share stories, provide feedback and to some extent offer benchmarking and even a nudge further to goals. Finding a way for customers of all ages, generations, backgrounds and viewpoints to connect and educate each other about their money is a huge opportunity to directly attack some of the financial gaps we’re experiencing. 

The trick — and the piece that will change the future of how money is used and viewed — is the opportunity to make those connections and insights highly personalised, completely digital, inspirational and exceedingly simple.

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