Women have long been under-represented in senior roles of corporate America and are still working towards equal pay in the workforce. One little-used way to improve those statistics: create a financial wellness or retirement education program just for women. Financial education programs for women can be key in helping employers recruit and retain women, and research from Mercer shows it can also have long-term implications for diversifying senior leadership roles in the future.
“Employers have a critical role to play in helping women save for retirement and research suggests women are open to receiving information from their employers and more likely to take advantage of investment tools, programs, and education when they’re offered,” according to Employee Benefit Adviser. “And as competition for talent intensifies, offering women targeted retirement plan communications and guidance can become an important way for employers to differentiate themselves and attract women who are looking for these benefits.”
Such programs are important to women for numerous reasons. They’re expected to live longer than men, but perhaps don’t have equal retirement savings as men because of pay inequality or time spent away from the workforce while caring for either children or aging parents. Student loan obligations can also prevent women from saving for retirement. But education is more important than ever, according to the International Network on Financial Education. “Women are likely to take primary responsibility for childrearing, to make important and daily decisions about the allocation of household resources, and to have a major role in the transmission of financial habits and skills to their children,” according to the Network. “Hence, they need to have adequate financial skills not only for themselves but also for future generations.”
Such workplace education programs for women will be most successful if they highlight overall financial wellness, rather than specifically saving for retirement, according to Employee Benefit Adviser. Retirement often seems far off for women, while current financial obligations seem much more pressing. Financial education programs are good for female employees – but they can also benefit companies’ long-term diversity strategies, as well. That’s especially true if senior leaders are involved in such programs.
“The active involvement of senior leaders in gender diversity leads to greater, accelerated representation of women in executive roles more so than accountability alone,” Andrea Davis writes for Employee Benefit News. “Yet, just more than half (56 percent) of organizations indicate that their senior executives are actively involved in diversity and inclusion programs,” she writes, citing Mercer’s research.