Each year on International Women’s Day, I join people around the world to pause to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and the progress that has been made towards attaining global gender equality.
It is a day where it is not only appropriate to celebrate the actions that have already been taken to achieve gender equality, but also drive forward those actions which will support the fast-tracking of gender equality.
The 2021 International Women’s Day theme – Choose to Challenge – holds particular significance to me and not just today, but every day.
As a female CEO working in financial services, an industry traditionally led by men, the notion of acknowledging and rising to every challenge has been an underlying motivation in both my professional, and personal, pursuits.
I’ve heard the saying “ask yourself if what you’re doing today is getting you closer to where you want to be tomorrow”.
It’s a thought-provoking concept and one which, in my life and leadership aspirations, I have found to be both grounding and motivational.
With this in mind, today I choose to challenge other women in particular, to strive for the confidence to pursue opportunities, to break down barriers and work to confidently to achieve financial security and independence.
I believe that women sharing their advice, experiences, successes and lessons learned from taking considered risks, can play an important role in really helping and supporting all women to achieve financial security, to reach their potential and enable them to secure opportunities that suit their lifestyle and career aspirations, just as I have.
I am proud to be Newcastle Permanent’s CEO – the first female leader in the organisation’s 118-year history.
Throughout my career I have sought to align my professional and personal life as both are important in helping me to be an empathetic leader and fulfilled person.
My greatest strength has been family and friends and mentors who have given me advice and encouraged me not to put limitations on what I could achieve and to take and own opportunities.
As a female leader I feel most rewarded that now, by contributing my career experiences and learnings, I can also help other women have confidence, feel financially empowered, rise to the challenge, integrate their personal and professional aims and successfully achieve their best.
There’s no doubt women may face some additional challenges in striving to achieve financial independence and security.
We know that, on average, women live longer than men, retire with less superannuation, do more unpaid work and in some instances a gender pay gap continues to exist.
I believe that everyone, regardless of gender, is equally deserving of reaching their financial goals and financial security, though I’m really passionate about empowering women to lead a healthy financial life.
There are a number of things women can do to manage their financial wellbeing.
Understanding and being in control of your money matters is an important and empowering life skill.
Being able to budget, manage existing debts and commitments, set financial goals, invest for good returns and plan for the future can open up new opportunities and help reduce financial stress and achieve security – even if your circumstances change.
Set aside some time to go through your current finances and think about where you’d like them to be.
Be aware of your situation, set big and little goals and most importantly be active, make decisions and celebrate achieving the little goals as they are the markers to long term financial independence and security.
Setting a budget can be liberating and provide stability. Having an emergency savings fund will also give you peace of mind if any unexpected incidentals pop up.
Everyone’s financial needs are unique however and if there is only one thing you do, I encourage it to be to seek advice about your situation from a qualified person who can help you to set goals and manage your financial security in the medium and long term.
It’s also important that women in particular check their superannuation to make sure it is working for them and their long-term goals.
A nest egg is one of the biggest assets you can build over your lifetime and a qualified financial planner can advise you what to do to manage your superannuation.
Knowledge is power and I encourage women to really do their research.
There’s a wealth of information out there about how to become financially independent and secure.
From challenge comes change.
By choosing to challenge ourselves and the status quo and seizing opportunities, we can empower ourselves towards being our best and achieving our personal and professional aims.
- Bernadette Inglis is Newcastle Permanent’s CEO