Daylight Decoded with Ange Meyer

Ange Meyer is an absolute bad-ass. From building Trade Careers - a platform with resources and tools for women in trade industries, to establishing EttieKits - a rapid at home STI test, through to leading gender equity within Mercer NZ she is a formidable force in advocating for gender equity.

She’s done a lot of different things in her career including running her own agency, Double Denim, started a dating agency, is a published author and has even created an international dance troupe.  But there has always been a through line in her work - radical positive change for women and working with ace ladies! 

Hi Ange - Tell us what the path looked like to working in gender equity in the finance sector?

A circuitous one. Though there has always been an interest in women and their relationships to money. In 2017 we did this big piece of research at my agency (at the time), Double Denim. We looked into the emotional and economic lives of New Zealand women and were really appalled and shocked by the foundings. 87% of women felt unsafe. Physically, emotionally but also financially. 

Fast forward to after the pandemic,  I was doing lots of  freelance gender equity  work. I was  particularly interested in the link between the 10,000 women who had lost their jobs in that first Covid wave and   all the  money in the construction industry. At the time only 3.2% of women were actually on the tools, so I was interested in how to get more women into the trades. So, I lead the development of  Trade Careers - a platform filled with resources and tools for women getting into the industry. 

About the same time I was part of a panel discussion about gender equity and investing and Martin Lewington the CEO ( of Mercer NZ) was part of the discussion. We got chatting after and he said he wanted me to come look at what the opportunity might be for Mercer  NZ to support women to have better financial outcomes. There was an opportunity - The Table  and I am very grateful that Mercer  NZ saw it and ran with it. 

Q: Tell us a little more about your role  at Mercer NZ? 

I am a part time gender equity specialist.  We have a 36% gender pay gap in retirement savings here in Aotearoa, so working to reduce that is my mission in this role. 

We created a programme called The Table - which we worked on extensively with Daylight. It’s an award-winning platform packed with amazing content, dedicated to helping NZ women of any age and stage build their wealth, get financially lit, and get their KiwiSaver sorted. All members of the Mercer KiwiSaver scheme automatically have access to this content. 

Q: What are some of the barriers that women are facing? 

I am a co-director of Project Gender a feminist innovations studio. We produce solutions that are evidence-backed, creative and targeted for commercial and social impact. We bridge the gap between untapped market potential and groundbreaking solutions by focusing on the most influential demographic globally. Women. But at the moment the evidence says to me, we don’t value women and children in this country. we’re backsliding on gender equity here in Aotearoa. 

Women are retiring into poverty and are disproportionately affected by systemic issues including gender pay gaps, sexism, racism, and a lack of financial education. On top of that we have, motherhood penalty.  All of these things that make it so much harder for women to achieve financial wellbeing. 

Q: How do we go about creating change? 

For me I always approach change by centering the voices of those who are most impacted. Often in the work I do it is the voices of women, wahine, trans, intersex and non-binary people.  

Here’s the thing - when you ask, women will tell you what they need and want. And, then it’s up to business, government, organisations, brands etc to  produce what they want. I don’t think it’s rocket science. The work I am doing in the finance space, shows women are often socialised not to talk about money. But we need to at all levels. 

Why? Because  as individual women we  can't advocate for change when we’re exhausted and broke, and the systemic stuff is hard - it’s a long game. Both require money.  

Research shows that personal finance is 20% head knowledge and 80% behaviour and mindset. How we think and feel about money - our relationship with money - is one of the biggest determinants of our ability to build wealth. Money is not just about math; it’s about beliefs, ideas, and emotions.

Women need some support to unpack the complicated emotions they have about money. The work I do at Mercer NZ is really looking at the 20% how individual women can be enabled to navigate this tricky system. And with Hi Money I focus on the other 80% - mindset and our relationship with money.

Q: What do you find are the biggest roadblock to change?

In places I’ve worked in the past, the pushback is often, ‘but what about men?’ It feels like we don’t want to have adult conversations about gender in this country.  Demonstrating the potential of women in this patriarchal world shouldn’t be this difficult, but it is. We need legislative change and a gender lens applied to national budgets and for women’s needs, wants and aspirations to be valued. Women are 52% of the population. They’re not the niche, they’re the market. If you took away the emotional baggage that comes with talking about gender equity. These are unmet needs. Create something for them, and get cracking. 

Q: What are some of your proudest moments working in this sector? 

I won the Emerging Trailblazer Award from the Financial Services Council in 2023. I’d only been employed in the industry for eight months, so I was so surprised and also thought, ‘ok, wow, actually the industry wants to make changes.’ That felt really exciting. 

The Table also winning the Plain Language Award was a really big highlight. All the work we did on the Table (with Daylight) created a tone, and language around topics that are usually filled with jargon and are really complicated to understand. It was  so great to be recognised for that. 

I also launched  Hi Money- an online course alongside my friend Rachel Davies who’s an incredible therapist. We were really fascinated by the mindset and behaviour around personal finance - Hi Money has totally changed the lives of many of the women who have taken the online course because we create a really safe space for women to talk about their relationship with money. We don't go near financial advice; it is the emotional side of money we explore.  That’s very rewarding. 

 Q: Looking forward, what changes do you hope to see, and what do you anticipate to see happening in the  gender equity space?

As women’s financial needs and as societal wealth shifts, brands and businesses have to start seeing us as integral players in the financial landscape. I do a lot of work in Australia and they have a lot of really robust legislation around creating gender equity action plans within organisations, so I’d love to see that start happening here in Aotearoa too. 

You are also the Co- Founder of EttieKits, rapid STI testing kits. Can you tell us  more about  it? 

Ettie Rout was the first sexual health crusader and campaigner in New Zealand in the early 20th century. She created her own prophylactic kit and campaigned hard for safe brothels when soldiers during WW1 were ripping through them, contracting (and spreading, and dying from) the clap! She was  recently honoured in Parliament, 106 years after all her mahi.

She was radical. EttieKits  - obviously named after her-  is a game changer too. At Project Gender we  conducted the Aotearoa Online Sex and Dating Report and  that saw that over 50’s in New Zealand were dating dangerously.  Many were  not being safe with their sexual health  which has led to an increase in STI being reported in this age group. EttieKits allows everyone to be protected, and sensible while out having fun! 

What are the similarities or differences there are with working in sexual health and finance?

This work with EttieKits, my work with Project Gender, Hi Money and at Mercer NZ, is all about radical positive change for women. It’s about  bringing conversations and topics to light that have shame around them, or are taboo. It’s hard work, but there are so many possibilities! Imagine. 

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