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Shivani Gopal

Shivani Gopal

August 14, 2022
| Womens Advocacy

Founder’s Weekly | 4th September 2020

Here's what you need to know this week on women in the world...


Fellow remarkable women,

Here we are at the end of yet another week, and the beginning of both another month and Spring! Let me tell you, I could not be happier to welcome the warmer weather. It feels so liberating to walk outside (with the exception of today) without my big puffer jacket and scarf! It’s the small joys. 

In this week’s wrap, we’ll be looking at the recent study released by UN Women and UNDP, which addresses how the pandemic has increased the poverty gap between women and men. We’ll also be covering the latest news in the corporate world - from CEO resignations to promotions for women - as well as the bizarre oversight in the newly-formed Professional Tennis Players Association.

Don't forget to join me on the Founder’s Weekly Facebook Live tonight to discuss as a community. Tune in at 5pm in our Private Facebook Group - The Remarkable Woman - Inner Circle.

Look forward to seeing you there!

COVID-19 will widen the poverty gap between women and men

A recent report commissioned by UN Women and UNDP, and carried out by the Pardee Centre for International Futures at the University of Denver has found that the pandemic will dramatically increase the poverty rate for women and widen the gap between men and women who live in poverty.

According to the data, before the pandemic struck, the poverty rate for women was expected to decrease by 2.7% between 2019 and 2021. However, now it’s on track to increase by 9.1% instead. Furthermore, while the pandemic does impact both genders, it’s clear that the effect on women is significantly worse. For example, when we look at people aged 25-34 living in extreme poverty, by 2021, there will be 118 women for every 100 men in this situation. In 10 years, there will be 121 women for every 100 men.

In fact, the data has shown us that the pandemic will push 47 million women and girls into extreme poverty by next year, raising the total number to 435 million. It’s a devastating amount of individuals, especially since the situation is unlikely to return to pre-pandemic levels until 2030.

However, all hope is not lost. Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator, says that over 100 million women and girls can be lifted out of poverty if governments implement comprehensive strategies aimed at improving access to education and family planning, fair and equal wages, and expanding social transfers.

“Women are bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 crisis as they are more likely to lose their source of income and less likely to be covered by social protection measures. Investing in reducing gender inequality is not only smart and affordable, but also an urgent choice that governments can make to reverse the impact of the pandemic on poverty reduction.”

QBE CEO Pat Regan departs after complaint by female employee

On the 20th August, a mid-level female manager at QBE raised a complaint about the company’s CEO before resigning. After a week of independent investigation, it was found that CEO Pat Regan had breached the company’s code of conduct. As a result, he’s left the business.

Coming hot on the heels of the latest demotions and resignations at AMP Capital, it’s a clear sign that large institutions are no longer tolerating instances of harassment by senior employees. While this is great news, I do find it somewhat concerning that QBE is not providing any details of the complaint aside from stating that Regan’s communications “did not meet the standard set out in the group code of ethics and conduct” and that he had “exercised poor judgment” with regards to maintaining a respectful and inclusive environment for everyone at QBE.

For someone who is listed as a “Male Champion of Change” (a group founded by former sex discrimination commissioner Elizabeth Broderick that aims “to achieve a significant and sustainable improvement in the unacceptably low levels of women in leadership”) to be terminated on such vague grounds really does beg the question - what did he do?

Simon Mawhinney, portfolio manager of Allan Gray, which owns about 1% of QBE, has commented that this is a example of poor corporate transparency.

"The board has kept shareholders in the dark about the reasons and as shareholders we are therefore unable to assess the appropriateness of this significant decision. Corporate Australia can ill-afford for Board decisions to be anything but measured and appropriate. Reputation saving decisions which are not fair are as unacceptable as inaction when warranted.”

If we want to move forward with full accountability, there needs to be full transparency as well. For too long, bad actions have been swept under the rug - it’s now time for them to come to light.

Corporate women are getting their dues

Women all over corporate Australia are finally getting the recognition they deserve in a recent slew of promotions and job appointments. For the first time ever at EY, more women than men have been internally promoted to Partner, with 55% of the 31 appointments being female. This means the company now has less than 1% gender pay gap across the entire Australian arm. It’s a fantastic development considering the firm was at 10% across the firm just two short years ago.

In other exciting news, MTAA Super and Tasplan have merged and announced their new executive team, which is majority female. In fact, Chief Investment Officer Ross Barry appears to be the only male on the team with the rest of the C-Suite being filled by Leeanne Turner (Chief Executive), Kathleen Crawford (Chief Operations Officer), Ningning Lyons (Chief Strategy Officer), Robyn Judd (Chief of People and Culture), Amy Ward (Chief of Governance, Risk and Compliance) and Grace Angeles (Chief Finance Officer).

Congratulations ladies!

Professional Tennis Players Association shows a distinct lack of women

I’m a huge fan of tennis. Why? Because unlike many other sports, tennis really has set the standard for women’s equality. Female players are given equal billing at Grand Slam events, and also receive the same prize money as their male peers.

Although the sport could have made excuses to maintain a lopsided status quo (men are required to play for longer and generally attract bigger audiences), they’ve taken a stand to ensure equality across the board.

Just this week, Novak Djokovic launched the Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA), a breakaway union designed to give players greater leverage on workplace issues such as revenue sharing and scheduling. There’s just one glaring problem. There’s not one single woman in the association. That’s right - in a photo that showed the dozens of players in the association, all of them were male. The absences of superstars like Serena, Naomi and Ash were startlingly apparent.

Reassuringly, this counterintuitive oversight has been condemned, and PTPA figures have promised women will be included “in very short order”. But I really have to question how they got it so wrong in the first place. I have to question why Djokovic, who embarked on a retrograde campaign in 2016 for men to receive greater prize money at Grand Slams, is accepted as the PTPA’s figurehead. I have to question the fact that not one of the men who stood alongside him thought to question the distinct lack of women in the organisation.

Honestly I have more questions than answers…

I’m certainly not a professional tennis player, but I’m not sure I’d want to be a part of such a community who can forget half the tennis population in the first place should they kindly extend the invite! Would you?

Until next week!


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