Employers Need to Play a Key Role in Enabling Women To Achieve Financial Security
Our relationship with money starts at a young age―some say as early as three or four―and is a powerful force throughout our financial lives. But for many women, this relationship gets off on the wrong foot.
In my case, I was fortunate to grow up in a cosmopolitan, forward-thinking Asian-Indian family. Yet even in our progressive home, my father and my brother dealt with all things financial. My mother, a highly educated medical doctor, was not involved in the decision-making process regarding money.
Fortunately, times have changed. Yet too many women still lack confidence when it comes to finances. There are several reasons why this must be altered.
Women’s economic status and influence vary by country, but one commonality exists across all.
When women are economically empowered, their families and their communities are more stable and prosperous. Also, women arefar more likely than men to reinvest what they earn into their communities and households.
Employers and Financial Wellness
As our country’s economy gradually rebounds from the effects of the pandemic, it is more important than ever that we do all we can to empower women as earners, investors, and wealth growers.
Employers have an important role in this, as a critical influencer for women to earn and invest their money. Employers are uniquely positioned to support their employees’ financial well-being. Most of an employee’s financial life is tied closely to their employer as the primary source of income and benefits.
According to some research, 50%of stressed employees say finances are a distraction at work, and 75% percent believe employer-sponsored financial wellness programs would positively impact their finances. Employers should think about eliminating wage gaps for women and implementing programs that support their overall financial well-being.
Here are several steps businesses can take to ensure that the women they employ are achieving their full financial potential not only for themselves and their households but for our country’s economic health:
Create a Culture of Empowerment and Inclusivity
Creating an inclusive workplace extends beyond hiring and pay practices. It should also include access to benefits and programs that help create a sense of security―mainly financial―as finances continue to be a top source of stress.
Female employees should be given the same tools, resources, and opportunities to create generational wealth that their male counterparts have, but with additional support that addresses the unique experiences that many women face around money.
Establish Equal Pay
Women need to be given equal pay for equal work.
It’s not just a matter of law or a matter of doing the right thing. Investing in the financial well-being of women is a great investment. And this is the time to do it.
Women were disproportionately affected by the pandemic and left the workforcein greater numbers than men. In 2021, women earn 82 cents for every dollar men make, an 18% difference in the raw gender pay gap. Eliminating this gap has never been as crucial as it is today.
Promote the Importance of Mentors and Sponsors
Mentoring and sponsorship can give female employees the edge they need by helping them feel supported and empowered.
Empowered workers are more motivated and more likely to stay at a company. One survey of 1,700 younger workers found that they listedopportunities to learn and grow as the most important factor they consider when applying for a job.
Mentors and sponsors can help younger employees grow and enable older workers to fine-tune their skills. This creates an environment where everyone can thrive.
Provide Access to Financial Resources
Female employees need access to financial education, including classes, content, and other resources on financial planning, investing, and day-to-day money management.
Women are a powerful economic force, but many grew up in households where their fathers handled the finances, and their mothers managed the home, or their parents didn’t talk about money at all.
This was the beginning of a lack of confidence in handling money that societal forces—including wage gaps, wealth gaps, and the disproportionate impact that events like the pandemic have had on working women—have unfortunately reinforced. Providing the right financial resources and tools can help undo some of these influences and build confidence.
Offer Caregiving Benefits
Women are more vulnerable due to the burdens of caring for family members, which caused 2.4 million to leave the workforce during the pandemic – 46% of them being Black and Hispanic even though they represent less than one-third of the total female workforce.
Offering childcare and eldercare benefits can help women invest more money into their careers and futures, increasing financial stability for women at all stages of their lives. Caregiving benefits will go a long way in making the workplace fairer for women, especially women of color.
Focus on Financial Wellness
Finances are the number one cause of stress for employees. The recent BrightPlan 2021 Wellness Barometer Survey says that financial stress costs U.S. employers nearly$5 billion per week in lost productivity and engagement.* But working women—many of whom manage the home while working full-time—contend with even more stressors.
Employers have a critical role in leveling the playing field and empowering women, especially women of color in the labor market. While we’ve come a long way, there is still much work to do to ensure women of all backgrounds are given the support and empowerment they need to achieve financial security.
By providing an inclusive culture and the right financial wellness tools and resources, women can tap their true financial potential and contribute to the economic health of our communities and our country.
** Disclosure: Assumes there are 94,257,000 knowledge workers in the U.S. with an hourly wage of $35.53. Source: Federal Reserve Economic Dataset. For more information, see thefull report .
Neha Mirchandani is the CMO and Head of People atBrightPlan , a leader in Total Financial Wellness.
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