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Working together to Break the Bias

Promoted by NAB Broker.

Author: Nicole Triandos, Head of Strategic Partnerships, NAB, Broker Distribution

Inclusion and education are key components of forging more equality on International Women’s Day and beyond.

Tuesday March 8 is International Women’s Day – a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. Each year, International Women’s Day has a particular theme which serves as call to action for accelerating women’s equality. This year’s theme is #BreakTheBias. Whether deliberate or unconscious, bias makes it harder for women to move ahead.

Over the twenty plus years I have worked in banking and finance some solid progress has been made in forging a more diverse and equitable industry. I have been fortunate enough to have supportive colleagues and strong female role models such Rachel Slade, NAB group executive, personal banking, and NAB’s chief marketing officer Suzana Ristevski to name a few. 

The fact is, 73% of women still experience bias at work - yet less than a third of colleagues are able to recognise bias when they see it. Knowing that bias exists isn’t enough, we need to do something to #BreakTheBias—on International Women’s Day and beyond.

Building a more inclusive industry 

Many of us are all too familiar with the stats when it comes to women in the broking industry. In September 2021, the Mortgage and Finance Association of Australia (MFAA) noted that, despite overall broker numbers increasing, the proportion and number of women working as brokers had dropped to a new low.

The findings came in the association’s 12th edition of its Intelligence Service Report (IIS), which draws on data supplied by 12 aggregators over the six months from 1 October 2020 to 31 March 2021. While the report found that the broker industry population operating under these 12 groups had continued to grow to reach 16,968 brokers (the second consecutive period of growth since September 2018), the number of women in the industry had dropped.

However, while the overall proportion of women in broking is low, encouragingly more women are being recruited into the industry. The IIS report shows that there were 420 women recruited into industry during the six-month period, the largest number recorded since 2017. This represented around 30 per cent of all new recruits.

Brokers need a full range of skills to deliver the best results for customers which is why it’s so important to foster a more inclusive industry – not just across gender but across experience levels, age and backgrounds. The soft skills and the ability to cater to client needs with understanding and consideration are just as important as the number crunching and technical details. 

From an industry perspective, NAB runs dedicated Women in Finance events and offers training and education initiatives such as the NAB Digi PD Day. We also have an employee network group, NAB Pride, supporting people to be who they are, no matter how they identify.

The importance of financial literacy 

Another way we can work to shift the dial on breaking the bias is through improving financial literacy. 

Brokers have an important role to play in encouraging open and inclusive conversations with their customers –inclusive of all gender– throughout the lending journey.

As individuals it’s up to all of us to make sure we feel empowered to take control of our own finances and understand our financial situation – this can be anything from paying the bills to understanding what investments we might hold and how to access them. 

We also need to consider the next generation. Adulthood is rife with financial challenges. The more prepared children are, the better. From budgeting and saving, to understanding the true value of money. NAB has a range of guides to help teach kids financial literacy.

An inclusive culture delivers the best results 

At NAB we see inclusion as part of the way we work. Inclusion is a mindset and a way of working together that supports a positive experience for our colleagues, and in turn, our broker and aggregator partners and of course, our end customers. 

Our inclusion strategy focuses on a culture of inclusion with inclusive leaders that are visible in their commitment to inclusion and actively build diverse teams, and an inclusive workplace where all colleagues feel empowered to contribute to their full potential and understand the needs of our customers. 

We have made progress on our inclusion targets however, like many other organisations across Australia, and indeed globally, we recognise we need to do more. 

As COVID-19 has led to the introduction of more virtual meetings, digital tools and flexible work hours, it’s an opportune time to attract more women to the industry, including by supporting re-entry pathways and job sharing.

The opportunity for NAB, small businesses and aggregators is to ensure we maintain an inclusive culture which promotes diversity and flexibility. Stepping outside of the traditional banking and broking boxes to encourage under-represented groups to take part is vital for driving results and for the continued success of our industry.

Working together to Break the Bias
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