Magazine

8 Ideas to Make the World Right for Women in 2018

By Ellevest Team

A report of the Ellevest 2018 Money Census*

Ellevest surveyed 2,000 American professional women and men, after a year when millions of women marched on Washington and joined the #MeToo movement about workplace sexual harassment and abuse. We wanted to know: How do women feel about their treatment at work and in the world, and their ability to get ahead? Do men feel differently?

Turns out that women and men both have blind spots about money, and they both come at a high cost to women.

More money for women means more security, more independence, more personal power. That includes the option to walk away from all the Matt Lauers, Mario Batalis, Charlie Roses, Al Frankens, et cetera, et cetera at work. Or the option to walk away from the job that doesn’t pay women well and has a poor leave policy, and instead find, start, or fund one that does.

For 2018, we’ve come up with a few resolutions that women and men can make that could actually help close the gender money gaps and allow women to succeed alongside the men.

STANDING UP MAKES A DIFFERENCE

We asked whether people were more worried about money and equality as a result of the 2016 election. Women were way more likely than men to say they’re more worried about their money and about equal treatment — and to say that they’re protesting, donating, and advocating to keep themselves safe. Men, not so worried. (In fact, the one thing more men than women said they were likely to do as a result of the election was “feel more optimistic about my future.”)

Action for women: Keep talking, if you’re in a position to. 79% of the professional women we surveyed said, “I stand up for what is fair, at home and at work.” And the most amazing thing about all the pain and anger and upheaval that came out of the #metoo movement was that we saw how change can happen when we do.

The most amazing thing about all the anger and upheaval of the #MeToo movement was seeing how change can happen when we stand up for what is fair.

Action for men: Stand up with women. 74% of men we talked to agreed, “I admire women who stand up for what they think is right, at home and at work.” Put that into action; be our ally. If the women you know are advocating for something and you aren’t right there with them, get in there! If they tell you that you need to care more, hear it.

PSSST. GUYS. YOU’RE NOT ACTUALLY BETTER AT THIS.

Our survey found another blind spot for men — they think they’re GREAT with money. In our survey, men ranked themselves waaay better with their finances and investments than the women ranked themselves. And even though a majority of women told us they were confident they had the ability to manage their money, women ranked their money knowledge lower than men overall.

Action for women: Just do it. The top three confidence boosters women told us about? Working on their money goals, savings, and investments. In fact, the #1 thing that made them feel confident was the very act of putting money toward their goals (63%). Think of it like: You don't want to go for a run, but you feel so much better when you do. And if you relate to the 44% of women who said, “I need advice on how to manage money and financial assets that is personalized for me,” kick off 2018 with some outside advice.

The #1 thing that made women feel confident was the act of investing, saving, and putting money toward their goals (63%).

Action for men: If you’re in a relationship with a woman, be active in involving her in your shared financial life. Research shows that women make better investors than men, because they’re risk aware, and risk awareness translates into better results over time. Also, women tend to outlive men by an average of five years. So don’t assume that she has zero interest in getting involved, and don't assume that how you're investing, especially for retirement, will serve your partner. Have an honest conversation around your retirement goals; this way, you both can get a sense of the progress made so far and then you can identify the steps each of you can take to make even more progress going forward.

THAT PLAYING FIELD? STILL NOT LEVEL

We asked a number of questions about fairness in the workplace. The overwhelming majority of women (83%) said YES, there’s definitely a wage gap — and many women saw that gap in their own paychecks. Less than half (42%) of women thought their workplace was a level playing field for women (vs. more than half, 58%, of men who do think their workplace is a level playing field for women). And 48% of women agreed that “women have to work twice as hard for half as much.” Of the men? Only 25% agreed.

48% of women agreed that 'women have to work twice as hard for half as much.' Only 25% of men agreed.

Action for women: In your own workplace, mentor other women to help them get ahead. On the national level, call your legislative representatives and ask them to bring the Paycheck Fairness Act out of committee in 2018. Yes, this bill has been introduced to Congress 12 times in the past 20 years — but never since have we had such a spotlight on the inequalities women face in the workplace. Let’s use that spotlight.

Action for men: Stand up for your women colleagues in the workplace. Credit their work and call out the “he-peats.” Don’t interrupt. Mentor a woman. Be the person who advocates for a woman colleague when she’s not in the room. Don’t be afraid to give women feedback because “she might cry” (yes, guys really do this). Defend women when they’re harassed. Pay women equally yourself if you have that ability. And, yes, you also should call your legislative representatives to ask them to bring back the Paycheck Fairness Act in 2018. American families — women, men, and children — are being robbed when women do not get equal pay for equal work. Make it the law.

INVESTING GAP > WAGE GAP

Women are serious about the wage gap — 83% agree it exists — but many fewer women (55%) agree an investing gap exists. That’s the difference between how much money men invest in the stock market and how much money women invest. And of the women who were aware of the investing gap, most (69%) have NEVER thought about how much it’s costing women over our lifetimes.

The kicker: When we asked women to estimate the cost of the investing gap to them personally, on average, women are seriously underestimating the effect this gap is having on their own net worth. At each income level, we underestimate the cost to us of not investing as much as the guys do by anywhere from a couple hundred thousand dollars to $1 million+.** That’s a factor of ten. TEN!

On average, women are seriously underestimating the effect the investment gap is having on their own net worth by anywhere from a couple hundred thousand dollars to $1million+.

Let’s try imagining what women — those same women who have been fired up, speaking out, voting with our wallets, and giving many fewer effs after the Trumpnado that was 2017 — would do with all that extra money this year. (Give more to non-profits, invest it in their families, buy from women-owned businesses, start their own …)

Action for women: Make this the year you start investing, even just a little bit. If you’re just starting out, choose an investment service with a $0 minimum and low fees that is a fiduciary, meaning they are required to act in your best financial interest. Then start investing as soon as you’ve paid off any bad debt. The 50/30/20 rule is a great one — and if you’re not there yet, it’s one to aim for. This is the inequality we can start working on all by ourselves.

Action for men: Talk about money, and specifically those gender money gaps, with the women in your life (and check yourself for mansplaining every now and then—because those women are better at investing, remember?). And pass it on to the next generation. Have a daughter, niece, granddaughter? Teach her the value of investing.

The Ellevest 2018 Money Census (the “Census”) was conducted online between November 3-10 2017 in conjunction with Chadwick Martin Bailey. Base: Women (1,034), Men (1,009), Women of Color (231), Non-Women of Color (808), LGBTQ (200) and Non-LGBTQ (968). Participants are US residents who range in age from 22-65, more than 90% of whom are above the age of 30. All participants represented having personal incomes of $50,000 or greater and were involved in managing their personal or household finances. Not all questions were answered by Census participants. The Census was funded by Ellevest.

We compared our estimates of the gender investing gap with those of survey participants across the following salary ranges: $50,000-$74,999; $75,000-$99,999; and the participant average of $103,000. For each range and for the participant average, we averaged the responses received after eliminating the outliers using an interquartile range. We assumed $0 for participants who believed there is no investing gap. These averages were compared to our estimates, which were determined by comparing the wealth outcomes after 35 years for a woman earning $50,000, $75,000, and $103,000 and a man earning 30% more, reflecting the gender pay gap (e.g. $65,000, $97,500 and 133,900).

We assumed savings of 20% of salary which grows in accordance to a gender specific salary curve provided by Morningstar Investment Management.LLC. These savings are assumed to be invested according to the asset allocations for men and women presented in the Blackrock Global Investor Pulse Survey from 2015, and rebalanced to this allocation each year. For simplicity, allocations to bonds, real estate, alternatives, and other were categorized as bonds for the purposes of this study. We assume the portfolios are held in a taxable account. The results were determined using a Monte Carlo simulation—a forward looking, computer-based calculation in which we run portfolios through hundreds of different economic scenarios to determine a range of possible outcomes. The wealth outcomes are at the 70% likelihood of achievement, and include taxes, inflation, and underlying fund fees. The investing gap is the difference between the two wealth outcomes, in future dollars. Our estimates were found to be higher than the survey participant averages by a factor of 2-7x, and more.

Forecasts or projections of investment outcomes in investment plans are estimates only, based upon numerous assumptions about future capital markets returns and economic factors. As estimates, they are imprecise and hypothetical in nature, do not reflect actual investment results, and are not guarantees of future results.

Information was obtained from third party sources, which we believe to be reliable but not guaranteed for accuracy or completeness.

The information provided should not be relied upon as investment advice or recommendations, does not constitute a solicitation to buy or sell securities and should not be considered specific legal, investment or tax advice.

The information provided does not take into account the specific objectives, financial situation or particular needs of any specific person.

Investing entails risk including the possible loss of principal and there is no assurance that the investment will provide positive performance over any period of time.

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Ellevest Team

The Ellevest team is working to help women reach their financial and professional goals.