Baby Bump - our small step toward addressing the gender pay gap

When a new baby comes into your care, your life is turned completely upside down.

You have this new tiny little creature to take care of, often no idea what you're doing (even when you've done it before) and a lack of sleep that your 21-year-old-self would be so proud of (but which right now makes the morning chirping of the birds sound like a sledgehammer in your head).

But the change doesn't stop there

Add to this that for many new parents - especially women - your career ambitions have been thrown into disarray and your whole identity is shifting. Who are you now? What's your purpose in life? What do you have to offer the world other than the rapidly improving skill of swiping poop with one hand while holding tiny little legs up with another?

For me, this stage in my life has most certainly been the hardest so far. Grappling with a new identity, trying to fold my old identity into it, not knowing quite where the old me ends and the new me starts. (None of this seemed to be a problem for my partner, who simply seemed to fold this new title of 'daddy' into all his existing identity and mosey back into his five-day-a-week work life - albeit with a little more sluggishness in his springy step - ten days after the birth of each of our kids.)

And so somehow it seems to fit with the laws of the universe that we get hit when we're down. At this time when our world has changed in so many ways, when we no longer really know who we are, we now also have to figure out how we're going to make ends meet while we're off work (if we're lucky enough to be able to take extended leave).

Our nation's policies have a long way to go

Our society is certainly not yet structured in a way that values (financially at least) the silent and very important workload of being an at-home parent, especially a new one.

This is reflected in our pretty poor maternity leave policies in this country and our absolutely woeful paternity leave allowances.

It's reflected in the fact that many parents are faced at this time in the year (note: it's only May!) with childcare that is about to cost more than their bring-home wage due to them reaching their rebate ceiling already. For me, I will hit that ceiling in the first week of July.

And that's not to mention the major hit a new parent's income will take over the years to come as at least one of them tries to juggle part-time paid work and part-time unpaid work (that's the parenting part). 

And with our society still largely influenced by our patriarchal history, it's usually a woman whose income takes this hit. It's just one of the reasons women are retiring with a fraction of the superannuation savings as men. (There are a whole host of other reasons, and they very much matter, but we're not going to go into that here.)

Not so super for women

The sad truth is that the superannuation policies in this country are systematically and fundamentally flawed. They are geared so completely to favour men that one in three older women are living in poverty. Because for women, we'll retire with a median balance that's 47% lower than a male's. And if you’re a parent, the gap is even wider: Mums in Australia retire with 60% less superannuation than Dads.

Changing this system is going to take a lot of work. It's one of the things the fourth wave of feminism is - talking - about... and working on.

But in the meantime, surely we have to make steps in the right direction.

After all, that's what our movement of ethical super is all about. Small steps to pave the way to big change.

Baby steps

So we saw a small change that we could make. While it won't fix this whole system on it's own, it is perhaps a start.

And that's our new Baby Bump Fee Rebate.

Because when a new parent is financially worse off in so many ways, we don't think we should be charging them a fee to look after their super when they aren't even going to be getting employer contributions in there (or at least not significant ones).

The Baby Bump Fee Rebate

So for all our existing and new members, when they are off work (or working less than 10 hours per week) in the year after a new child comes into their care, we will refund their membership fee for up to 12 months.

And note that's for all our existing members, regardless of gender. Because we are ALL FOR advancing the cause of a more flexible workplace culture that places as much value on the paternal relationship as the maternal one, and that challenges the notion that caring for babies is a job just for women.

It's a small gesture, but hopefully it's something.

Because to be truly cruelty free, we need to think about the needs for all, and that includes the futures of these little squish-balls we call babies, and the wonderful parents who raise them.

About the author:
Noelle Greenwood
Noelle has been a passionate advocate for human rights since she walked her first 'walk against want' as a 10 year old. Her formative years were spent under her parent's wing in rallies, marches and kazoo-bands. All of this in the fairly conservative region of North Queensland, it's needless to say that activism is in her blood. As she's transitioned into making more conscious consumer choices across different aspects of her life, she's become more and more interested in the plight of creatures who are systematically harmed, exploited and killed for no good reason. Noelle likes to write about human rights, animal rights, climate change, feminism, indigenous issues, LGBTIQ issues, and generally anything that will spark a healthy argument with some of her right-wing acquaintances (the ones that are up for a healthy argument, anyway!).
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Noelle Greenwood
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We love writing about cruelty-free investing and creating a kinder world, but please be aware that the information provided is general in nature, not personal or financial advice. When we discuss companies, it's not a recommendation to buy, hold or sell shares in that company. If we mention returns, please remember that past performance isn't a reliable indicator of future performance. Before acting on any information provided, you should consider if it's appropriate to you.

This policy is available to all new and existing members. The full Baby Bump policy is outlined in our Additional Information Booklet. Terms and conditions apply. 

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