By now, you’ve probably heard that the 12-week paid family and medical leave program fell out of the social policy bill last week. That leaves the United States as one of only six countries with no national paid leave program.
Sadly, we all lose here. When it’s offered, the benefits of paid leave for families are overwhelmingly positive for kids, families, and even businesses. (It’s not even hyperbole to say humankind at large.)
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the connections among three things that we know.
First thought: If you want to improve a society, you get more money into the hands of women.
When we say nothing bad happens when women have more money, it’s not some catchy slogan. It’s facts. Economies grow. And when women have more money, more of it goes back into their families and communities. Right now the opposite is happening. Which leads me to …
Second thought: The gender wealth gap is wide, and it’s been getting wider.
Some five million women lost their jobs during the pandemic, and many have not gone back as they struggle with access to child care and bear the brunt of COVID-19 school closures. As the sociologist Jessica Calarco put it: “Other countries have social safety nets. The US has women.”
The gender pay gap gets a lot of play, but the gender wealth gap is even more important. On average, US women own just 32 cents for every dollar a man owns, while Black and Latinx women own just one penny. (And those numbers were calculated before the pandemic.)
The cost of the pandemic to women may well be decades of economic and financial progress. Which means that the cost to their families is that same loss of economic and financial progress. So, again — we. all. lose. File this under: catch-22, or vicious circle, or endless loop.
Third thought: Our country is divided, angry, and scared.
Recently, when researchers surveyed people from 17 countries to ask about divisiveness, Americans were most likely to say their society was split along partisan, racial, ethnic, and religious lines. The US was also one of just five countries in which more than half said their fellow citizens can’t agree on basic facts.
At the same time, it’s notable that countries run by women weathered the pandemic better; that women are more likely to believe in climate change than men; that women are more interested in investing for positive impact. (In fact, more than 50% of you invest in Ellevest Impact Portfolios.)
So I can’t help but think that women having less money and power, and our country being so divided, seem undeniably intertwined.
Of course, these issues are complex and multi-dimensional. And that doesn’t mean that social media hasn’t been a driver, or that the pandemic hasn’t made things worse, or that our school systems don’t need to modernize.
But this is why Ellevest’s mission will always be to get more money — and thus power — in the hands of women. Let’s keep helping other women network and find jobs, supporting women-owned businesses, and remembering the politicians who are supporting — and not supporting — policies that help women. (Speaking of which — don’t forget to vote today.)
Calculated as percentage of clients who have invested via Ellevest’s digital platform with at least one goal invested in an Ellevest Impact Portfolio. Data as of September 30, 2021.