The gender pay gap is contributing to an increasing rate of homelessness among women, and this is exactly why initiatives like a CEO sleepout are a good thing.
The annual Vinnies CEO Sleepout will take place at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Thursday to raise funds for those experiencing homelessness, and elderly women are a huge part of that.
The event recognises that women represent the fastest growing group facing homelessness as a result of earning less than men, taking career breaks to have kids and accumulating less in superannuation.
Financial abuse and divorce are other factors that can have a devastating impact on a woman’s finances and the ability to support themselves later in life.
“Many women spent long periods of time without regular employment while raising their children and as a result they have much less superannuation to draw on. Many of those struggling now also experienced relationship breakdown,” says Jack de Groot, CEO St Vincent de Paul Society NSW.
“They are also usually in lower paid jobs and now, as they face failing health, redundancy or retirement, they find they can no longer afford to pay escalating rents in the private rental market. These women struggle to keep a roof over their head.”
Money raised by CEOs during the Sleepout will go directly to Vinnies Support Services which include accommodation options for women fleeing domestic violence and Sydney’s only refuge for older women facing homelessness.
Many of the CEOs registered for this significant fundraising event are themselves women and while they may be more financially secure than most women, they are helping create space for female executives across a range of sectors in often male-dominated fields.
In fact the representation of female CEOs at the Sleepout is about 25 per cent which is significantly higher than the ‘real world’ representation of just 16 per cent.
“Many of these women are sleeping out in support of those other women whose lives turned out so differently and who are faced with fewer options and nowhere to live.”
Some of the high-profile women attending this year’s Sydney Sleepout include Annabelle Spring of the Commonwealth Bank Australia, and the youngest CEO to ever participate- Ali Kitinas of Freedom Scrub.