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Banking, wages, leadership and technology – what do they have in common?

Wednesday August 9th, 2017 in In the News, Ampersand Latest

Some interesting developments in the business world this week. These developments directly affect the future opportunities for employees in the banking, media and technology sectors. Shifts in banking, wages, trends towards flexible work practices and women in technology emerge globally and are felt locally. The common link – much needed change.

On banking…

ANZ Chief Executive Shayne Elliott is preparing his 50,000 strong workforce for radical transformation to reshape the bank’s culture, become a digital leader and revolutionise outdated work practice. Richard Gluyas reports in The Australian, “All staff at home and abroad will receive a hard copy of the 3,500 word message from Shayne, in which he relies on insights from people as diverse as the English poet Shakespeare and the late rock musician David Bowie.” 

The banking industry is ripe for change. Negative news following a series of poor financial choices has created a toxic atmosphere for the industry with talk of a Royal Commission being needed to flush out and stop these problems. Elliott says, “The ANZ is searching for a purpose to shape a world where people and communities thrive. It’s a wake up call that says our Industry hasn’t really changed for a long time. It’s going to be exciting for many but it’s going to be scary for some.” 

Elliott will drive changes in three ways. Strengthen customer relationships, enthusiastic adoption of digital technology and improved financial performance through a simpler, better capitalised and better balanced bank. Richard, “ANZ plans to be agile across the entire bank, braking down bureaucratic complexity and traditional hierarchies.” Elliott says, “It will feel very different. We will get better people, the people we have here will be more engaged and our customers will notice.”

On wages…

Despite a drop in the jobless rate since the beginning of last year from 6.1% to 5.6% wage growth has continued to fall. Since the mid 1990s growth has averaged 4% a year. This growth has now dropped below 2%. This strange situation is not common only to Australia as it has become a global trend. Economists believe this could be due to greater self employment, temporary work, flexible contractor workforces and part time jobs. David Uren comments in The Australian, “Wage bargaining is now more likely to be individual than collective, suggesting a loss of bargaining power. But the flexible work practices may be enticing previously inactive people back into the work force. Self employment is also high, with 10.9% of the workforce operating businesses without employees, while there is a similar number of independent contractors.” 

Marginal workers are now more likely to be self employed with flexible work practices and not members of unions. A recent study in the US forecast that independent consulting and/or the self-employed will form in excess of 40% of the workforce by 2020. The data suggests recent trends in the nature of work carried out may have bearing on this weak wage puzzle.

Structural changes may also be at work. The rate at which people are changing jobs is falling and the possibility arises that people who have worked without the desire to chase higher wages may now be ready to consider and look for change. Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank, Guy Debelle has also commented that if such changes occur then we are not far away from upward inflationary pressures to emerge.

On corporate women and technology…

Edwina McCann, Editor In Chief of Vogue Magazine has grappled with this mix for a long time. Technology and women’s luxury fashion has proven to be incompatable. Her magazine is aimed at the market in which corporate women work. As the technology sector continues to grow this problem will intensify. Stephen Brook covers this sector in Media in The Australian. McCann, “My issue is that they (women) never really had a purpose – we weren’t trying to solve a problem. The problem is getting women into the tech sector in the first place.”  As a result Vogue Codes was created. A summit for corporate women aimed at addressing the many hurdles facing women who want a career in technology. McCann, ” Last year we had 200 people. This year we will have over 20,000 people go through a Vogue Codes event.” Impressive – representative of clear demand but not necessarily backed up by the right career opportunities.  

Sexism is apparent at every level, even women to women. McCann, “Our attitudes need to change. We have to accept as mothers and women in management that we have to accept some responsibility as well. We are not encouraging enough women in work and in our homes to seek opportunities in this sector.”  This experience is now set to become a target in the way Vogue internationally opens doors for women into the technology sector.

Hayley James

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