Imagining a World Without a Wealth Gap

By Sallie Krawcheck

Well, it’s Equal Pay Day today. As you may know, this symbolizes how many days into 2022 that women have to work in order to earn what men earned in 2021

Eye roll.

Remember when days like this were marked by publicity stunts, like the Fearless Girl standing … you know, fearlessly … in front of Wall Street’s iconic Charging Bull? (The ad firm that came up with the idea originally pitched making it a Fearless Cow. And I think we can all agree that, as infantilizing as women-represented-as-little-girls is, it’s unequivocally better than women-represented-as-cows.)

Remember when the company that sponsored the Fearless Girl then settled a gender pay discrimination lawsuit? Remember when they sued the woman sculptor of that Fearless Girl over ownership rights? Remember when that same company tweeted that its CEO is urging other male business leaders to show their allyship for International Women’s Day — and the Gender Pay Gap Bot retweeted it, with a note that that company’s median hourly pay for women is 17.4% lower than men’s?

Boy, were those simpler times. Practically the “good old days.” (Except for the last one on the tweet; that happened last week.)

Today’s Equal Pay Day vibe is a lot less “Fearless Girl” and a lot “more pointed call-outs.” Because since the pandemic began, it feels like the damage from gender wealth inequality — and gender power inequity — has ratcheted way up. This may be because, while the gender pay gap has been ever-so-slowly closing, the gender wealth gap is wider, and has been widening. Women have been losing financial ground to men. 

Let’s hit that point again: Women have been losing financial ground to men.

And as we continue feeling the effects of a pandemic, and as we watch the war in Ukraine in horror, it sure feels like the stakes — of who has power and who doesn’t, of who has wealth and who doesn’t, of whose voices are listened to and whose aren’t — are becoming higher, for all of us. 

What might the world look like if we could close the gender wealth gaps

Well, fairer by definition. And with more money going to the kids. (You’ve seen the research that moms spend more on their families and communities than men do.)  And there would be more women able to leave bad situations, be it relationships or jobs (since domestic abuse and financial abuse go hand in hand, and harassment in the workplace is similarly all about power). 

There would be more money going to non-profits. (There’s research on that.) And there would be more money going to investments designed to help protect against climate change. (There’s research on that, too.) And into impact investing overall. 

There would likely be more women in positions of power. So there would likely be fewer attacks on women’s rights and more focus on preventative care and wellness. And maybe not just less war-on-women, but also less war

I’m not saying everything would be perfect if we closed these wealth and power gaps. What I am saying is that the world is burning, in so many literal and metaphorical ways — and it’s not going to heal itself. And it sure doesn’t feel like we’re moving in the right direction, and “who has the money / power / voice” will make a big difference in the direction we choose.

Sallie Krawcheck Signature


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Sallie Krawcheck

Sallie Krawcheck is the Founder & CEO of Ellevest.