Decades of Progress Are on the Line. Really.

By Sallie Krawcheck

I wrote this on Sunday. And then last night, I watched, as we all did, the swearing-in of a new Supreme Court justice with a record of being hostile to issues that impact women. In a historic rush before the election. At night. By not-the-Chief-Justice. Standing up with three men, two of whom (Donald Trump and Clarence Thomas) are on the record with actions that have harmed the rights of women. For an appointment that a majority in the Senate prioritized over economic relief during a pandemic (which — as I talk about below — could have disproportionately helped women). It feels creepy, at best — and perhaps apocalyptic.

Do you also have a pit in your stomach as we approach Election Day (or more accurately, the last day of voting)?

It may be because everywhere we turn, we’re told how high the stakes are. And it may be because the rancor is so strong.

It may also be because of what 2020 has, uniquely, taught us: We understand that this pandemic has been awful for everyone. But it has drawn into stark relief that a faulty health care system hurts women more as the health crisis continues to cause ripple effects that throw the demands of family care disproportionately on us.

And from there — those disproportionate demands of family care — we can draw a direct line to a reversal of women’s economic and financial progress.

There are perhaps decades’ worth of economic progress being destroyed in 2020, hurting women more, right in front of us.

And we know that from there — we can draw a direct line from women’s financial equality to full equality in our society. When we lose financial ground, we lose ground. Period.

So: A leaky health care system = more caregiving responsibility for women = lost financial progress for women = less equality for women.

A few years ago, we could have argued this hypothetically. In 2020, it’s been happening right in front of our own damn eyes.

And it’s not just the health care system that has this type of domino effect: It holds for the environment (when our planet burns, it hurts everyone, but hurts women more) and for gun violence (it hurts everyone, but hurts women more). And, of course, laws restricting women’s access to an already faulty health care system speed things up even more.

A New York Times article last weekend noted that women don’t necessarily vote based on “women’s issues,” like the ERA or equal pay or abortion. But there are differences in how the genders vote, with “women demonstrating greater compassion and nurturance, rejection of force and violence, and concern with interpersonal relations.”

OK, I can live with that. Particularly if women will be the deciders of this election, and thus of our future.

But I would argue that the opposite of what “hurts women more” is also true. And that if we women vote with our own interests in mind, it helps us, and it helps our families, too. One more time: Women having more power and greater equality helps our families, too.

The “selfish vote” becomes the generous vote.

Because do we want any of our children to have to live through another dumpster fire like 2020??

If you’re a poll worker, thank you. If you’ve voted or are voting, thank you. If you’re encouraging other women to vote, thank you. If you’re running for office, thank you, thank you.

Sallie Krawcheck Signature


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Sallie Krawcheck

Sallie Krawcheck is the Founder & CEO of Ellevest.