26 Feb 2015

Women around the country want to feel more confident and in control

Today, NAB Business Executive General Manager Cindy Batchelor spoke at the NAB Women’s Agenda Leadership Awards.

– CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY –

I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners and custodians of the land on which we meet today, the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, and I pay my respects to theirs elders past and present.

I would also like to acknowledge Julia Gillard, Former Prime Minister of Australia.

Thanks also goes to the Women’s Agenda team for another successful awards year – we value the partnership we have built with you to deliver these awards.

At NAB, we believe we have a unique opportunity to help empower Australian women to make wise money and life decisions so they can lead a fulfilling life.

I know it can be hard sometimes for women to feel that they have a legitimate voice in the business world.  We must support them to ensure that their voices are heard.

Extensive research tells us that when you have more women in senior leadership roles and hence more diversity in executive teams, the better the business performs.  We’re proud to be recognised as an Employer of Choice for Gender Equality at nab. The numbers speak volumes –  We have increased the proportion of women in Executive Management to 30% and women on our subsidiary boards to 32%.  We now have 87% of our women on parental leave returning to work and are also working to close any gender pay equity gaps.

I’ve been at nab for 12 years now and we’ve done a lot but there is always more to do.  Supporting women to realise their potential energises me enormously.  It’s great to be here today to recognise and celebrate women who have backed themselves and achieved professional and personal success.

We are surrounded by women in this room who are the role models creating real change and inspiring others to follow their lead.

We want to see more women in senior leadership roles and more women running businesses.  We need to create the environment where female business leaders are not the exception if we are to build a strong and sustainable economy that leverages the talent of all Australians.

As Australia’s largest business bank, we see the contribution that business makes to our economy and the impact business owners are having at a grass roots level.  We have thousands of female customers who are running their own businesses and so many more mothers, sisters, partners, daughters and grandmothers who are integral to the successful operation of the business.  They often manage the books and the cash! and have a significant influence over investment decisions and growth.  They also play a vital role in creating jobs for many Australians. Women play a critical in our society but we also want to ensure that they are looking after themselves and developing their financial literacy and security.

I stand before you today as a proud product of a single mum who raised 4 children on her own.  When my parents divorced, my mum was 27 years old with 4 children under 9 and no work experience or professional qualifications.  My father walked away and we didn’t see him again for 16 years.  My mum had to develop survival skills pretty quickly – she worked as a waitress at night while completing her Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Laws degrees.  She learned to manage money as she had to look after our family on her own.  This was in the US in the 1970s and I distinctly remember helping my mum count her waitressing tips every day after school so we could do the grocery shopping.  Maybe this is where my career in banking first started!

I know this had a profound effect on me as getting an education and developing financial independence was a ticket out of poverty for my mum.  I now find myself over 40 years later running a big business but also as a sole parent to two beautiful teenage boys – my husband was tragically killed two years ago in a paragliding accident.  You just never know what curve ball life is going to throw at you.  I am thankful that I have built a level of financial independence and awareness that now enables me to care for myself and my boys not only emotionally but financially.  In retirement, my mum rings me about once a fortnight from Queensland to let me know what’s happening on the share market and what Bloomberg is saying.  It is no longer a survival skill for her but a labour of love.

This is why I am passionate about empowering women to build their financial skills and confidence so they can be the best they can be.

And this passion is why I’m proud to introduce nab’s new program for women, Start Counting.  Start Counting is designed to help empower Australian women to build strong money and life habits, benefiting their overall well being.

The program was born from an understanding of the increasingly important role women play in economic decision making and the financial inequality many women still face today.

Young women of 25 today are likely to earn almost 50% less during their lifetime than their male counterparts unless something changes – leaving her at risk of poverty in retirement.  Making financial and life advice affordable and accessible is one step in the change journey.  Start Counting can give them tools to design the life they really want.

We’re in the room today because we believe in the power of women and want to recognise those that are creating real change in our community.    We are delighted to play a part in shining the light on these female role models but also on the change champions, agenda setters and mentors who provide vital support and encouragement.

On behalf of nab, congratulations to all the finalists and of course the winners.  You should all feel enormously proud of the difference you are making and the work you are doing to help women prosper.

Thank you

 

For further information about the NAB Women’s Agenda Leadership Awards, visit: http://www.womensagenda.com.au/

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