2021 was (yet another!) rough year for women. They’re being left behind in the pandemic recovery, as many (especially mothers) still struggle with burnout or bow out of the workplace altogether. Basic campaign-trail promises, like paid leave, vanished from the federal budget, while reproductive rights continue to be attacked from the state level all the way to the highest levels of our government. We’re still struggling to get back on our feet.
But we’re still here. A lot of women+ have made major strides this year — in investing, in business, in our collective power and beyond — and there are plenty more wins on the horizon. All we need to do is reenergize and recommit to the cause — at home, at work, and everywhere in between.
Here are five things we can all do to keep fighting in the coming year — and every year.
Talk about money
Talking about money is a huge part of a healthy money mindset. In the Ellevest Financial Wellness Survey we conducted this fall, just 14% of women said they regularly reach out to others for financial support and guidance. At the same time, nearly half of women (45%) reported that talking about money helps them feel more supported, reduces stress (41%), and makes them feel more informed about their own financial decisions (39%).
So if you aren’t already, 2022 is the time to normalize those conversations in our lives. With our friends, our partners, and our parents. Here’s your how-to guide, in general. And here’s your how-to guide for salaries specifically.
When you talk about money, you start to understand what’s possible and where you stand. Talking about money might not erase wealth gaps, but money talk taboos do keep us from talking about them, which only serves to reinforce privilege. And we need to talk about those gaps. Women on average own only 32 cents for every dollar a man owns. On average, Latinx and Black women own just one penny.
If you’re in a relationship — no matter how great the relationship — you should know that financial infidelity is a very real thing. And that divorce affects women’s finances more than men’s, but having greater clarity about family finances can help lessen the blow.
The way to take care of yourself — and your relationship, and your colleagues, and your neighbors, etc. — is to talk. (Couples who talk about money regularly report being happier than couples who don’t.) It doesn’t have to be awkward, either: A money talk party — call it a dollar date with your friends? — can help ease tension by carving out space specifically to get used to those unfamiliar conversations.
Teach your children well (about money and inequality)
Whether you’re a mom, aunt, older cousin, or role model, you can use some of this advice on raising kids to understand money and the social justice issues that come with it so that they’ll have more equal opportunities … and the power to give others opportunities, too.
Speak up for change at work …
For most of us, our money begins at work. So the more we can make things better for women in our workplaces, the better off we’ll all be. If you’re in a position to speak up in your workplace, here’s our advice on how to stand up for paid family leave at your office, how to advocate for equality, and how to help your company close its own gender pay gap.
While you’re at it: Speak up for yourself. Advocating to be paid what you’re worth is a feminist act. Here’s our advice on negotiation, managing imposter syndrome, and getting ready for your performance review. (If this is the year you intend to kick your self-advocacy into high gear, check out our coaching sessions and workshops for extra help.)
… And at the ballot box
2022 is a midterms year (if you can believe it!), which means that civic engagement is about to be huge again. Despite the political disappointments we might have faced down this year, think of voting as a preventative measure, much like your annual physical or biannual teeth cleaning. To be sure, more women representatives doesn’t always mean more women-friendly policies, but in the past, it’s often trended that way: Women legislators pass more laws. They bring 9% more federal money back to their districts. And no matter their ideology, women are more likely to introduce pro-woman legislation — things like family leave.
TL;DR, let’s keep doing our research, demanding answers to hard questions, and showing up for the candidates that promise to help women on election day. Then we can get back to advocating for causes that safeguard the rights that may or may not end up being protected at the governmental level. (More on that in the next section.))
Spend money on women+
Where we put our dollars makes a difference. Even before the pandemic, women were starting tons of businesses but receiving only a fraction of the funding. And in 2020, those businesses were hit hard, since women own disproportionately more businesses that depend on foot traffic, had less money to begin with, and got passed over for the emergency Paycheck Protection Program loans.
So shop women+. Last year we asked our community of Elle Raisers for their recommendations, and they came through with hundreds of their favorite businesses owned by Black women+, Latinx women+, Native American women+, AAPI women+, and LGBTQIA+ people.
But also, here’s a radical mantra for the new year, if you’re in the position: Just give your money to women+ who need it. Donations to good causes are powerful. In particular, the past two years have shown us that mutual aid networks — from free fridges to buy-nothing groups to community pantries — are powerful vehicles for change at the community level. Whether you’re donating to established causes or to the gang of 20-somethings in your neighborhood rounding up baby supplies, make donations a habit in 2022. Here’s some advice on how to fit that into your budget. If you’re an Ellevest member, you have access to our charitable giving tracker worksheet, too.
Invest to change the world for women
Every dollar you spend, save, or invest has an impact, even if you don’t know what that impact is. At Ellevest, we’re big fans of intentional investing: knowing why you’re investing (aka what goals you’re working toward), choosing an investing company who aligns with your values, and paying attention to what you’re investing in.
That’s why we built our Ellevest Impact Portfolios for our members, which are a form of gender-lens investing. We designed them with the goal of driving change for women around the world, but also being thoughtful about your bottom line. Here’s how they work. And it’s also why we built the Ellevest Intentional Impact portfolios — public equity portfolios for our Private Wealth Management clients.
When we invest in ourselves and in each other, when we work to make women+ stronger financially, when we advocate for each other with our voices and with our dollars, when we model equality and financial strength for our kids, when we blast through the taboos to talk about money — if we do it together — then everyone wins.
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