Empowering women to take the lead

ANZ’s residential broker head Simone Tilley is part of a growing movement to amplify women’s voices in the industry, and to encourage them to recognise their leadership positions and increase their visibility in the public sphere.

Women brokers make up only a quarter of the industry, but according to the MFAA’s most recent Industry Intelligence Service report, those women who are entering the industry are staying.

“The role of women in the finance broking industry seems not only assured but also a vital ingredient for its longer term prosperity and the value of the industry’s proposition to customers in response to generational shifts,” the report notes.

On International Women’s Day on 8 March, Tilley says it’s important to celebrate the huge transformations women have achieved.

“As a girl, did I think I was going to become the general manager of one of the divisions of the bank? Probably not,” Tilley says.

“It’s about an evolution, it’s about that self-belief, and encouraging those stepping stones that really lead to opportunities; facing into your fears, backing yourself and diffusing that self-doubt.”

Many women already have incredibly rich skillsets and they just need to recognise that so they can put themselves forward, she says.

ANZ is making it easier for women to do that with its gender-balanced recruitment practices to help give every able candidate a fair shot and allowing staff to work flexible hours.

To recognise the many women who take time out of the workforce for children, the bank makes an additional $500 contribution each year to all female employees’ super. All staff will also receive super contributions for their unpaid parental leave for up to two years on their return to work.

Women who aspire to senior roles are supported through the bank’s Accelerated Banking Experiences for Women and its Notable Women programs.

The bank’s initiatives to improve gender equality seem to be working: Women account for over half of its retail broking leadership team and the majority of new members in its head office are women, Tilley says.

As ANZ presses for progress— the theme of this year’s IWD—it will hopefully encourage other companies to follow suit.

“From an ANZ perspective, we want to encourage women in leadership, whether it is in our organisation or outside of it, and just make people believe that they deserve to have a seat at the table,” she says.

More on this story will appear in MPA issue 18.03, out on desks 26 March. This story was written in partnership with ANZ.