Measure by Measure – Investment by Design

A case study in gender lens measurement and reporting by ANZ

Patterns of measurement have long been a cornerstone of human progress. Measurement allows us to gauge, compare, and make informed decisions. From tracking time, a heartbeat, or GDP, measurement empowers us to understand the world around us and our place in it.

The concept of “what matters gets measured” underscores the principle that quantifying and assessing a particular aspect of our lives can significantly influence our actions, priorities, and ultimately, our progress. This concept has far-reaching implications in various domains, from business and economics to personal development and social justice.

In the realm of social impact and justice, “what matters gets measured” takes on particular significance. And despite decades of awareness raising and campaigning Australian women still earn 87 cents for every dollar earnt by a man, spend 1.8 hours more on domestic labour per week (WGEA 2023) and 91 per cent of CEO positions on the ASX 300 are held by men(CEW Report 2023).

This year in the pursuit of gender equality Australian Parliament passed the Workplace Gender Equality Amendment (Closing the Gender Pay Gap) Bill 2023. The key change introduced by this legislation enables the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) to publish the gender pay gaps of all private sector employers (with 100 or more employees) from early 2024. Organisations’ data will be published on the WGEA website and employers will be given an opportunity to provide a statement that gives context to their gender pay gap results or outlines theirs plans for actions.

Supporting gender equity reaps a host of significant advantages. Firstly, it respects the equal potential and agency of women and girls and leads to their increased participation in economic and social activities.

Compared to the global average (21 per cent), more Australian men (30 per cent) believe that gender inequality doesn’t really exist (Status of Women Scorecard) and Breaking the Norm report by Deloitte Access Economics in partnership with Australians Investing in Women found that more flexible ideas around gender norms and roles could lead to an additional $128 billion a year for the Australian economy. This figure that was recently highlighted in the latest and final report from the Women’s Economic Equality Task Force which also found that a woman with one child will earn on average $2Million less over her working life than man who also has only one child.

It is widely accepted that gender-balanced community investment enhances the potential for sustainable development by harnessing the full talent pool; it helps to address pressing social issues and leads to more vibrant, inclusive, and prosperous communities. Moreover, gender wise investment aligns with shared global goals such as the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and contribute to a more prosperous and equitable world.


In 2020, and just weeks before Melbourne’s first pandemic lockdown, Julie Reilly OAM, CEO, AIIW had a chance meeting with Shayne Elliott, CEO, ANZ Bank at a busy sporting event in Melbourne. When the discussion moved towards gender equity in philanthropic and corporate giving, Julie noted the visible commitment to women’s finances by ANZ in their advertising, and asked Shayne whether gender equality was a consideration in ANZ’s corporate giving and ESG policy.

Known and respected for his values driven leadership it was an enquiry that Shayne shared with his team, of whom he asked:

1. What do we already know about the gender balance in our giving – what % of our total is able to be categorised by gender today?
2. How difficult would our program data be to collect?
3. What processes can we put in place to measure and influence the outcomes of our giving?

These three questions are in their very essence applying what is often called a ‘gender-lens’ to measure and evaluate gender equality in giving. In other words, how much, is given or invested in women and girls compared with the way investments support men and boys and those of diverse gender identity. Given the latest census data indicates the current Australian population is 50.2% percent women the question is a powerful consideration for all Australian businesses.

The results were surprising, not because they were disappointing, but for the opposite reason, the pulse check resulted in a positive finding across most giving channels which was cause for celebration. The decision to include a ‘gender lens’ to their ESG reporting offered ANZ’s Social Impact and Community Partnerships team a ‘new lens’ in which to consider community investment initiatives – they could speak to women and families in an evidence-based way about the measures the bank had in place to support women and the whole community.


Three years after her team received the initial question from Shayne, Janet Liu, Head of Social Impact and Community Partnerships, ANZ noted “I’ve been with ANZ for 15 years and in my opinion, the organisation has always been a champion of women and girls. Years ago, ANZ started contributing an additional $500 lump sum to eligible female employees’ super every year, to address the gender pay gap. ANZ parental leave policies and flexibility has al-ways been incredible, and we publicly report on percentage of women in leadership roles.”

Today Janet and her Social Impact and Community Partnerships team proudly advocate for a gender lens in their corporate giving, observing that community investment has changed significantly in the past decades. “We’ve moved from a more philanthropic approach twenty years ago to being very strategic about our contributions, ensuring that it aligns with ANZ’s purpose to shape a world where people and communities thrive.” Janet remarked. “The focus on impact (rather than input) on areas where we can contribute the most using our skills and expertise is hugely exciting for any leadership and teams that cares about their community.”

Reflecting further Janet shared the valuable insight “when you invest in women, the whole economy does better. Through our financial education programs, we have found that women work, save, and borrow to invest in their education and families. That investment has inter-generational benefit, so you really see longer-term benefit and impact.”

In terms of advice for those starting community investment reporting or adding another stream like gender-wise reporting, she said “I suggest following the 80/20 rule and commit to progress not perfection. For example, collect and report on your key initiatives in the first year and build from there.”

Janet observed that many organisations might be overwhelmed by the task of reporting, out of concern that they are not able to capture all streams of giving (e.g., staff giving or volunteering). However, she offered a reassuring perspective, saying, “I really do believe that re-porting on a smaller sample section of the business is better than reporting a zero.” Adding, “Your first report need not be forever; if you change methodologies or there is structural change to the business, you can always footnote and explain the change in approach in your future reporting.”

In conclusion, whether we’re addressing issues of gender equality, social justice, environmental sustainability, or economic development, quantifying our efforts and outcomes is the key to informed decision-making and accountability. It empowers individuals, organisations, and societies to identify areas where improvement is needed, to celebrate successes, and to adapt strategies as circumstances change.

Measuring progress ensures that resources are allocated effectively, policies are evidence-based, and the voices of marginalised communities are heard. In a world characterised by complex challenges, measuring progress stands as an essential tool for driving positive change and building a fairer future for all.

For more information on ways that you can apply a gender lens to your corporate giving head to the resource section of our website where you will find a series of AIIW resources:

  • Sharpening Our Focus on Corporate Giving: Keeping Gender Equality in The Frame has been developed in collaboration with the Champions of Change Coalition setting out a framework to assess corporate giving and community partnership programs through a gender lens and accelerate progress towards gender equality.
  • Breaking the Norm: Unleashing Australia’s Economic Potential Developed in collaboration with Deloitte Access Economics, the Breaking the Norm: Un-leashing Australia’s Economic Potential report found rigid gender norms underpin gender gaps in Australia. Closing those gaps in line with leading equitable countries would deliver massive, sustained gains for Australia’s economy in the future – it could boost the Australian economy by $128 billion a year.
  • Guide to Gender-wise Philanthropy outlines the case for investing in women and girls, introduces gender lens concepts, shares case studies, and suggests steps for those at the beginning of the journey, as well as actions for those further progressed in gender-wise philanthropic practice.
  • Gender-wise Toolkit for Grantmakers is a practical step by step ‘how to’ resource that complements the Guide to Gender-wise Philanthropy providing grantmakers with simple downloadable tools.

These resources, and more, will guide you through the simple questions you can ask, and steps you can take, to strengthen gender equality in Australia though gender-wise giving.

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