Some Australian companies, including ANZ are applying to the Australian Human Rights Commission for an exemption to make additional super contributions to their female employees’ accounts.

ANZ Bank is quietly taking steps to address the gender superannuation gap by making additional contributions to the accounts of its female employees.

In 2015, ANZ released a research report into gender inequality in Australia, which found that over their lifetime, Australian women would earn on average $700,000 less than men.

ANZ Bank applied to the NSW Anti Discrimination Board to introduce the additional $500 superannuation payment for female employees.

NSW is different from the other Australian states – in other states and federally, special measures, which are sometimes referred to as acts of ‘positive discrimination’ or ‘affirmative action’ are permitted without having to obtain an exemption.

ANZ was successful in their application to the NSW Anti Discrimination Board and was able to pay an extra $500 to the superannuation accounts of permanent and fixed term female employees on the Australian payroll. The payment is made in January each year.

An ANZ spokesperson says: “At ANZ we recognise the importance of closing the gender retirement savings gap and addressing the barriers to achieving financial gender equity which is why we provide an additional payment of $500 per annum to our female employees’ superannuation funds.

“Since the initiative was introduced in 2016, on average an estimated 11,000 women each year have benefited from the additional superannuation payment.”

ANZ is not the only company to make additional superannuation contributions to female employees.

The new defunct consulting firm, Rice Warner first applied to the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) in January 2012 and then spent 18 months negotiating with the HRC. They noted that while the AHRC was supportive, the complexity of the process might discourage other employers from doing the same thing.

They said that the process was unclear and that there were a lot of barriers.

Rice Warner was however granted an exemption and they said that they paid female employees an additional 2% superannuation. They had done a lot of modelling and arrived at the 2% figure based on women living around three years longer than women. They wanted to level the playing field but acknowledged that it would not close the gap completely.

Really Simple Money tried to contact the Federal Superannuation Minister, Jane Hume and the Shadow Superannuation Minister Dr Jim Chalmers however they were not available for comment at the time of writing.

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