Anniversaries are the calendar’s great multi-tasker. They allow us to celebrate, to connect and to reflect, all in one go. Depending on the year that’s been, there can be a lot to take it! That’s certainly the case as we cast an eye back on the past 12 months, the year Travel with Jane made its mark as Australia’s, indeed the world’s, first travel insurance company to offer a gender pay gap discount.
And so it was, that on the 8th of March 2017, in synch with International Women’s Day and all its outrageously worthy causes-within-causes, we decided a travel insurance product, a grudge purchase in many people’s eyes, could take a seat at the table and make a earnest contribution to the gender equality fight.
Our message was two-fold; no woman deserve to systemically earn less yet be expected to pay the same, and secondly, why were Australian businesses who professed to serve women, only talking about the gap (sometimes), and not actually helping to bridge it.
The more we talked about it, the more incensed we became – businesses were ripping women off at both ends, paying us less at work all the while charging us the same at the till. It really makes you mad when you think about it.
Lucky for the Travel with Jane team, our founder Insured by Us was on the same page. We agreed that something should be done, and moreover, that we had the guts to make it happen. No, it wouldn’t be easy – like any financial services product, travel insurance is governed by an awful lot of red tape. But we had the appetite to make a tangible – read financial – difference to our customers, and we did.
The solution was pretty simple. In the same way that women are paid on average 15.3% less than men, to quote current Australian Bureau of Statistics data as published by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, we would invite women* to apply that same percentage as a discount to any of our travel insurance products, at checkout. As the national pay gap percentage changed – it’s ranged from 16.2% to 15.3% thus far – so to does our discount.
Looking at the numbers, it would seem our first message was received. Women turned to Travel with Jane to insure their trips, and in return, saved a collective $43,897 from launch to date. That’s gender pay gap blood money right there. Saved. By. Women.
As a business, we had a proof of concept; that by serving women in a truly meaningful manner, even if it looked like we were giving our profits away, we could grow. And we did. Our inaugural ‘gender pay gap discount’ strategy delivered a 236% increase in the number of policies sold, and a 414% increase in sales. That’s a lot. Now, admittedly we were coming off a low base, Travel with Jane had only recently launched at all, but still. Growth like that is enviable anyway you look at it. And all because we binned the lip service and acted – something we’d hoped more businesses would have heeded our call to do.
Unfortunately to date – and we’re eager to be corrected, we haven’t seen any other female-focused business in Australia offer a gender-based incentive to women. Is it because they haven’t thought about, because it’s too hard, because they’re scared? Or because it’s way too much fun to pocket those profits? We’re not sure. But we do know that if any business would like to talk to us about the how’s and the whys, we’d be more than happy to share what we’ve learnt.
We’ve faced the men’s rights trolls on social media, we’ve done the homework to ensure we’re not flouting anti-discrimination law, and we’ve engaged with stakeholders across the board, from government to awareness groups within the space, to check that we were doing things right. Not saying we now it all, but we’ve covered a bit of ground in a year and we’d be happy to share if it means more businesses will charge women in a manner that fairly reflects the pay gap. We’ll wait and see.
In the meantime, we look to our community for cues on where we can extend our focus. Last we launched our ambassadorship and sponsorship program, Jane’s Gap Year, where we drew on a kitty of $20,000 to support 5 formidable Australian women in their efforts, from spokeswomen Layne Beachley and Clementine Ford, to social entrepreneurs Roz Campbell, Mei Lai Swan and Lauren Shuttleworth.
This year, we take a nod from the women within our own team, developers and coders taking on the male-dominated tech landscape all the while leading Ruby on Rails women’s meetups and sharing insights on tech’s toxic “bro” culture in their spare time. Thus, our 2018 sponsorship program will focus on women in STEM, which we’ve just kicked off by covering the travel insurance costs of 12 women in STEM en route to Antartica, as part of the Homeward Bound initiative.
It’s exciting stuff, and we’re honoured to be a part of it in. Even if we’re just a travel insurance company, we’ve proven that any business can make a difference in the campaign for gender equality.
About Travel with Jane
Travel with Jane is a new travel insurance brand for Australian women. Along with budget-friendly policy options, we offer a content rich ecosystem that engages female travellers and celebrates smart, safe travel. Since launching on International Women’s Day 2016, we’ve been in awe of amazing women doing great things and conquering the world on their terms. Along with covering their journey’s with proper, quality travel insurance, we’re also here to tell their stories and support their missions.
By Michelle Legge, community manager at Travel with Jane
*women, and people who identify as women. In line with anti-discrimination law, men are able to access the discount by enquiring directly with our team at firstname.lastname@example.org. No request will be refused.