OREANDA-NEWS. Today, NAB Business Executive General Manager Cindy Batchelor spoke at the NAB Womens Agenda Leadership Awards.

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I would like to thank the Womens Agenda team for another successful NAB Womens Agenda Leadership Awards and for their partnership over the last two years.
At NAB, we believe we have a responsibility to address the ongoing economic disadvantage faced by Australian women. We have a unique opportunity to help empower all Australian women to make wise money and life decisions so they can lead a fulfilling life.

We know it can be hard sometimes for women to feel that they have a legitimate voice in the business world.  Were all here today because we know that they do and we want those voices to be heard.
Extensive research tells us that when you have more women in senior leadership positions, the better the business performs.

Thats just one of the reasons why we want to see women prosper in our organisation and were thrilled to be recognised as an Employer of Choice for Gender Equality. From increasing the proportion of women in Executive Management (now 30%), and on our subsidiary boards (now 32%), to lifting the parental leave return to work level (now 87%) as well as working to close the gender pay gap, our dedication to women is unrelenting, and is just one of the reasons Im so proud to work at NAB.

While weve done a lot, theres still so much more work to do. So, what can we all do to help women to become better at backing themselves?

Firstly, we can celebrate those who have taken the courageous step to back themselves and thats what were here to do today.

We are surrounded by women in this room who are the role models creating real change and inspiring others to follow their lead. And we want to see and hear a lot more.

We want to see a greater number of women working in senior roles and we want to see more of them starting up their own businesses.

Its vital we create an environment where female business leaders are the norm, not the exception if we are to have a strong economy which leverages the talents of all Australians
As Australias biggest business bank, we see the contribution that business makes to our economy and the impact business owners are having at the grass roots level. We want to see more women starting, running and winning at business. But first we need to help empower them to see the opportunity in the first place.

Every day I get to see first-hand the successes of female business owners. And working in financial services for almost thirty years, I also know the challenges they face as well. Thats why Im passionate about empowering and supporting female leaders to be the best they can be.

And this passion is why were proud to introduce NABs new program for women, Start Counting. Start Counting is designed to help empower all Australian women to build strong money and life habits, benefiting their overall well-being.

The Start Counting program was born from an understanding of the increasingly important role women play in economic decision making and the financial inequality many women still face today.
A young woman of 25 today will earn almost 50% less during her lifetime than a young man of the same age leaving her at risk of poverty in retirement. Thats why it is so important to make financial and life advice affordable and accessible.

The Start Counting program is not about selling products or providing financial advice its an initiative that aims to address a growing need in our society to empower women to realise their true potential.

Women around the country often tell us they want to feel more confident and in control of their life and money decisions and through Start Counting, we believe we can give them the tools they need to design the life they really want.

I was so humbled to hear from Amy, one of our Start Counting participants, about the impact the program has had on the way she viewed her life and money habits.
She said: The program made me focus on myself for once. I have asked for a pay rise to reflect the increased responsibilities Ive taken on at work. Ive hired a personal trainer to get fit and Ive started doing more meditation to learn to manage it all. And most importantly, I have finally made real changes to get more control over my money.

Its stories like this that make me feel so proud about the work were doing to help women be the leading lady in their own life making changes that not only benefit them but changes that impact and motivate those around them.

And thats why were all really here today. To celebrate the women who are creating real change in our community as well as recognising the men and women who are helping them to make it happen.
Were in this room because we believe in the power of women.  And were thrilled to be playing a part in shining a light on those emerging leaders, change champions, agenda setters and mentors; the unsung heros demonstrating the sheer force of todays woman.

Congratulations to all the finalists and of course the winners. You should all feel very proud of yourself for the work you have done and continue to do in helping women to prosper and inspiring the next generation.