Economy & Me: How Equality Starts with Us

Recorded on September 20, 2023, 12PM ET

There is no question that women experience greater wealth disparities than men. A 2015 report from the McKinsey Global Institute found that advancing women’s equality can add $12 trillion to the global economy by 2025. So, why does there continue to be such a significant gap between men and women in areas like pay, leadership roles, and access to education?

Economic equality is certainly an uphill climb. Women experience higher rates of poverty than men, but we know that if women—who make up half the world’s population—do not achieve their full economic potential, our global economy will suffer.

While we can’t tackle every aspect of wealth disparity, we can provide women with various perspectives from field experts, including researchers, elected officials, and women working directly to boost women’s financial status, to help women feel confident about advocating for their financial future personally and for their community.

In this webinar, we uncover how women can address economic inequality in their own lives and in their communities.

Disclaimer: This text is not a verbatim transcript. Communication Access Real Time Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication credibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings.

SOPHIA O’NEAL: Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining us here today. So grateful to have you in attendance. I’m going to let everyone come in and take a couple minutes to get settled. I’m Sophia, program associate here at She Should Run and hile we wait for everyone to join, we would love to invite you to share where you are joining us from in the chat. Just make sure it is set to everyone so we can see your wonderful messages. Thank you. Hi Elizabeth in Batavia. Thanks for hopping on this morning. Shannon in Dublin, Ireland. Thank you so much for being here. Texas Women’s University in Denton, thanks. It’s great to see so many people around the country and beyond. Sari from Annapolis as well, Joyce from Nairobi, Mara in Buffalo. This is an awesome group. Hello, Christine, in Philadelphia. Thank you for being here! Melissa is in New Jersey. Love a Philly connection. Lindsay is in Portland. Hello. Laura in Kansas. This is great to see such a wide variety of people here. Just so exciting and I’m grateful to have everybody. Hi, Patricia, thank you for being here. Also Amanda mentioned in the chat, a reminder to have everyone set chat settings to everyone so we can all see your messages, not just the hosts and panelists. Hi Miriam from Chicago. Thrilled to have you here. Erica is in Maryland. Lovely. Great. I know people will continue to trickle in, but we will get started. I am so thrilled to get to have this webinar today with you all. She Should Run is excited to be cohosting this event with United WE to bring you our webinar, Economy & Me: How Equality Starts With us.

Let’s get started. Some reminders as we begin. This session is recorded and available on the website at a later date following webinar. Closed captioning is available using the CC box at the bottom of the screen. We have ASL interpreters joining today. We would love to invite you to continue to chat throughout our conversation today, please make sure it is set to everyone. We are excited to see lively discussion that happens. Additionally, if you have questions for speakers, please use the Q&A box to submit questions. We will answer as many as we can at the end of the discussion, time permitting. Last, but certainly not least, you will have the opportunity to complete an evaluation at the end of the webinar to provide some feedback on how we did today. We are grateful for any and all feedback you can provide and will be used to continue to craft future our offerings. My colleague, Amanda, dropped the link in the chat.

Before I hand it over to Rachel, I will go over the agenda today. So after this, I am going to kick it off to Rachel Chamberlain, the moderator, for a brief overview of She Should Run work on issues right now. We will meet our incredible speakers and have this really rich discussion with them, as well answer some of your questions. To wrap up, we will share next steps you can take with She Should Run.

I’m honored to introduce our moderator, Rachel Chamberlain. She is a seasoned early-stage startup executive with a really strong history of guiding operations teams with high-growth enterprises. In her most recent role, she served as vice president of business operations at Alloy and prior to that, Rachel held roles as head as private wealth management and Director of operations at Ellevest. She holds an MBA from Chicago Booth and BA from Providence College. And, She Should Run is especially lucky to have her as a national board member with our organization. So, without further ado, I’m going to hand the reins over to Rachel here.

RACHEL CHAMBERLAIN: Thank you so much, Sophia. Welcome to everyone on the call today. I’m excited to be here with you all. To start, I would like to invite you to do a polls check with us, you’re going to see a poll pop up, on where you are in your leadership journey. Ok, excellent. I see those responses coming in. It looks like folks are really across the board which is excellent news. We are excited to be on this journey and you are in the right place to talk about these issues. Welcome to the conversation.

Let’s dive in and let’s talk about, first of all, why are we here talking about women and the economy today? The answer is because the research told us we needed to. As Sophia mentioned, She Should Run focuses on getting more women to consider a run for office. That is the area you can see at the top of the funnel. That is the area She Should Run is focused in. Staying on the pulse of what will encourage women to run for office is critical to the work the organization does. Earlier this year, She Should Run released a comprehensive study to understand what motivators exist that would increase the pool of women considering a run for office.

And while the field as a whole who does this work, knows a whole heck of a lot about why women don’t run for office, we knew if we wanted to reach huge numbers of women fully representative of the diversity of the country, we needed to get into the weeds of what women from all backgrounds would find motivating about elected leadership and actually decide to run. The research came back and you can see in the chat, women are not a monolith so the research is nuanced and dense, but there was one through-line that came through loud and clear: If we want to continue to reach women who are not already thinking about elected office, we have to lean into conversations they’re already having about issues that matter to them most.

That came through loud and clear in research. We looked at the leading research in the field on what issues mattered most to women and there are five key issues like climate change, reproductive health, gun violence. One key issue we found is most critical to influencing women to considering running for office is women in the economy. That’s why we are here talking about this today. Before we get to introduce the speakers, let’s do another quick poll. Women and the economy is an important topic and I want to see where you are you all at with your knowledge level of it. Take a moment to fill that out. [pause] Varying degrees of familiarity with the topic of women and the economy. There will be something to learn for everybody here. I’m excited to introduce speakers as we do that. Without further ado, let’s welcome the panelists. Wendy Doyle, President and CEO of United WE, who graciously is cohosting this with us is here joining us. The Honorable Rosie Rios, 43rd Treasurer of the United States. Shannan Herbert, Executive Vice President of Inclusive Credit at Stratyfy. We have this incredible line up of panelists with us and I would like to invite each panelist to introduce briefly themselves and share their connection to the topic. Wendy, would you start by please introducing yourself to our audience?

WENDY DOYLE: Thanks, Rachel. It’s great to be here and I’m honored to be a panelist with Rosie and Shannan. I am President and CEO of United WE. We are, as you mentioned, a proud supporter of today’s conversation. Our organization at our very core is an evidence-based research-driven organization and we utilize that research to highlight economic opportunities for women, and then get to work and advocate in a nonpartisan manner for all women. I’ve been in this position for 10 years and have had the honor to work on our mission of advancing women’s economic and civic leadership. I’m in constant communication with decision-makers, community leaders, policymakers, all trying to understand what the challenges, but really looking for solutions at the local, county, and state levels.

I’m drawn to this topic of economy because our economy cannot function without women’s participation–particularly in the labor force. That is a highlight for me. We are constantly, as an organization, as a leader, trying to recognize and understand what those barriers are. I believe that together when we understand barriers, we can advance women’s work economically by coming up with unique solutions. United WE has worked on over 27 evidence-based research studies. We have been successful in enacting 23 laws, nine executive orders, and 25 administrative actions for all women and families. As our national influence grows, we are positioning United WE as a model not only in the Midwest but beyond. I’m happy to be here today.

RACHEL CHAMBERLAIN: Thanks so much. Rosie, would you introduce yourself briefly to the audience?

HON. ROSIE RIOS: Thanks, and I’m thrilled to join Wendy and Shannan today as a panelist as the 43rd Treasurer of the United States. My background is in real estate finance. That was the focus before I joined the Treasury Federal Reserve transition team at the height of national crisis in the fall of 2008. We can probably all remember how scary that was. In addition to that, I think I’m the only person in the world who served on that transition team plus both terms Obama administration, plus the Biden Treasury transition team in the fall of 2020-2021. Most recently, appointed as chair of America 250, which is the Congressional commission that is planning the anniversary in 2026. What I love about this particular webinar is it focuses on my core personal interest in addition to my professional interest.

Since leaving the administration, I have launched a nonprofit EMPOWERMENT 2020–now EMPOWERMENT 2026–and has two areas of focus. One, it supports the physical representation of historical American women which we get into more later. Also, supporting women in positions of money and power. I focus on that because if you look at any of the economic and social indicators and political indicators, women tend to flatline. Usually, the 20% or so level, which is disappointing. If you knew me 15 years ago, it’s not that I didn’t think this was important but it just wasn’t what I focused on. It was my time in the Treasury caused me to be what I call an “accidental feminist.” Accidental educator, accidental historian. It is what I live in brief for today.

In my other life, I’m also on several boards including Ripple, Fidelity Charitable, and American Family Insurance. I’m also a pre-IPO consultant and I’m on several reality shows. Unicorn Hunters is one. I’m also featured cohost with Meet the Drapers with Tim Draper. I love my life but it took a while to find my passions of the ripe young age of 58 years old. I’m thrilled to share my perspectives.

RACHEL CHAMBERLAIN: Thank you, Rosie. I’m looking forward to what you share as we go through questions in a few minutes. Shannan, would you introduce yourself as well?

SHANNAN HERBERT: Absolutely. Good afternoon. I’m so happy to be here with you all today nd share the stage. I’m looking forward to this conversation. My name is Shannan Herbert; EVP of inclusive credit at Stratyfy. Stratyfy is financial technology solutions firm. We create solutions for bankers to help them identify where bias shows up in their decision-making. We do this in two ways; think of automated decisioning that uses AI and machine learning. We are all talking about AI and the dangers of AI. We have technology that can help identify where bias is in the data and help lenders reduce bias so they can make better decisions.

We are able to help the underwriting side. We’ll be doing that with a cohort that I will talk about later on in the conversation. We can help lenders make better decisions through underwriting processes and changing their guidelines and policies so they can expand their footprint and have capital flow into communities that have been under-invested and under-resourced for far too long. Our mission is creating financial inclusion and these products are innovative and forward-thinking enough that we are able to achieve that in the short term.

Prior to joining Stratyfy, I was a commercial banker. I didn’t really start focusing on these types of issues until much later in my career. I was a commercial banker for over two decades. The last bank I worked for was a CDFI which stands for community development financial institution. Working with CDFI, I was able to see not only the good work that was being done in the community where these CDFIs were located, but just how deep these disparities and inequities ran. You can see where money was going and not going. Who needed financing or access to capital and what resources were there and which resources never materialized.

I wanted to learn more about how these disparities originated and what could be done to correct or fix these, or allow for us not to perpetuate these harms any longer in the communities where we live and work. That is when I began working with the Underwriting for Racial Justice working group and Stratyfy is now working with this group to provide the same type of technology and innovation to 20 lenders for the next two years to help them make better decisions and communities they serve.

RACHEL CHAMBERLAIN: Amazing. Thank you so much, Shannan. I’m eager to kick this conversation off. Why don’t I briefly tee us up on what the topic at hand is and then let’s dive into questions. Reminder, please, drop your own questions in the chat and we will get to as many as we can at the end. Some of the responses I saw from the poll we did a few minutes on what your knowledge of the economy, remind me of the time I spent in my career working with women in money. I often hear things like “I don’t know enough,” “There is too much jargon,” and “I need to take a class or read a book to do something about my personal finances or participate in conversations.” If you’re here and are thinking “I don’t know enough to have an impact,” I have news for you, you already are participating and impacting the economy every day.

An economy, simply defined, is the way in which production (or the making) of goods and services and consumption (i.e. using them) occur to determine the allocation of resources. If you earn wages, if you are make purchasing decisions, hold debt, you are already participating in the economy. When it comes to women specifically in the economy, we don’t have to look far to see there is inequality. There is that pesky gender pay gap we all hear about where a woman makes roughly $0.80 on the dollar for the same work that a man does. In addition, research tells us women invest at lower rates than men, on average, and hold less wealth on average than men, $0.32 to the man’s dollar. And, to boot, get less venture capital than men at 2%. I can go on but I won’t because there is something in the data very encouraging.

The research shows when women are included equally in the economy, it’s better for the economy and society. It boosts economic growth and leads to economic diversification and resilience. In fact, i the United States alone, McKinsey did a study that estimates there are $4.3 trillion on the table by the year 2025 if we were to get women to participate equally and fully in the economy. We have a lot to talk about here, we are going to dive in very quickly and there is important conversation to have. We will have some fun as well. We will get to Barbie, U.S. women’s soccer, and maybe Beyoncé. Hold onto your hats. So let’s get right in.

My first question is for Wendy. She Should Run has done a few of these webinars now tackling big national issues like climate change, gun violence, and reproductive health. Something like “the economy” is such an all-encompassing topic. To start, can you ground the conversation with what United WE understands to be the most pressing ways the economy affects women’s lives?

WENDY DOYLE: Sure, and thank you for the questions, Rachel. I would just add, too, to put some context to your opening, we recently hosted town hall sessions to talk about economic impacts families are facing in the Midwest. One key thing from that discussion is women are not comfortable talking about the economy with peers, friends, family; whereas men are really skilled at it. I think the more comfortable women get with talking about money and finances, and the economy, we can get more comfortable and see where we can fit in. Just to level set on some of the context we see in particular, of course, we saw the benefit of the summer highlights as you mentioned with Beyonce, Taylor Swift, the Barbie movie contributing to the economy. It was the summer of women. Some key issues you mentioned such as inequity in pay is still holding women back from fully participating in the economy.

Certainly lack of affordable and accessible childcare is a significant piece of the conversation that we’ll be seeing not only now but in the future as federal funding is running out. Paid family and medical leave is a priority to retaining women in the workforce. We’ve heard that loud and clear. As you highlighted, access to capital for women entrepreneurs is something that is significant for women’s participation in the economy.

RACHEL CHAMBERLAIN: Thanks, Wendy. My next question is for Rosie. During your tenure as Treasurer of the United States, you led this major push for greater female representation on our currency, many in the audience that might be familiar. Your efforts to replace Andrew Jackson with Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill. Plus a series of quarters featuring Maya Angelou, Sally Ride, Anna Mae Wong, Nina Otero-Warren, Wilma Mankiller. Incredible work. How did this come about and what motivated you to push for that change?

HON. ROSIE RIOS: Yes, of course. It’s my favorite question in the whole world. As I mentioned, my background is real estate finance and when I came into the Treasury transition team in the fall of 2008, I thought it would be a four-month stint and here I am 15 years later still doing what I need to do. The concept of a woman on the Federal Reserve notes came to me during that transition period where it was very stressful time. I used to take breaks in the Historical Research Center at the Treasury. People wouldn’t realize that Treasury didn’t just produce currency, they produced all the financial products of the federal government and one of the first things George Washington did when he became president in 1789, is he appointed Alexander Hamilton as Secretary of Treasury. Everything from postage stamps, food stamps, saving bonds, military payment certificates, all those products were produced by the Treasury and housed in the Resource Center.

All of those times of heightened stress when I would take those breaks I would see the pattern. Every time I looked through these renderings and concepts and designs, every single image I came across of a woman, was not a real woman but allegorical–like Lady Liberties. Every image I came across of a man was a real man, Founding Father, President, or cabinet member. I did research and realized the U.S. has never had the portrait of a woman on the Federal Reserve notes in the history of those notes. I thought it was odd because there were almost 30 countries that had women on their modern-day currency.

I asked the Director of the Bureau of Printing and Engraving–where currency is produced–and his deputy, and asked the same question, “Why hasn’t this ever happened before?” They all had the same answer, independently; “No one has ever brought it up.” That became my mission. I found my place in life, I guess, at the time I was 42. And that’s when it hit me that as a leader of the free world, the oldest democracy in the world, if the point of currency is–in addition to facilitating commerce– institutionalizing history, and if you look around the world, you always see a very important person on the front and very significant monument, edifice, or event on the back. This is the way we institutionalize history. How are we missing half the population in the U.S.?

I came on board in the administration specifically to make a difference in that world. And Secretary Geithner, my boss, was amazing. It took a while but we made the announcement after a very ambitious engagement initiative launched in June 2015. In April 2016, you may recall we announced Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill. Still a work in progress, but I didn’t want to stop there. In 2016, I also started a process for getting women on quarters. It is strange to change our paper currency by law, it is one person. It’s not the President, not Congress, it’s the Secretary of Treasury. But to change coins is an act of Congress. Five years later–yes, five years it took me to pass legislation to put women on our quarters. The first one came out in January of 2022, Maya Angelou, and the first time in history that we’ve had a black woman represented on our coin or currency and there are five per year for four years. There will be 20 women featured on these quarters by 2025.

It’s exciting for me but it’s just a dent. I want to leave that story with one comment which is change only happens when we don’t settle. My journey, my 15-year journey continuing is a sad representation of what I think most of us need to go through with whatever it is when we are trying to make a difference. It’s worth it. I promise you it’s worth it. Although I’ve paid a price in many ways. I’m not stopping.

RACHEL CHAMBERLAIN: Thanks so much, Rosie. Really incredible to see the responses in the chat to the incredible work you’ve done on national currency. I’m excited to see that rollout. One thing you mentioned making your comments is the public engagement you were able to achieve as you worked on that initiative. Can you tell us more about that?

HON. ROSIE RIOS: This level of change is controversial. It sounds simple but it’s not. If you do the math, this idea came to me in December of 2008 and didn’t make the announcement until April 2016. I was the longest-serving senior treasury official in the administration and there are reasons why it takes so long to make change–even in a supportive environment. That public engagement process really provides validity in terms of getting public input. It had to be grassroots and Main Street focused and the temperature of the country. Even though by law, the Secretary of Treasury who makes that sole decision, we felt strongly that the public engagement process would be a significant part of the effort. In the end, when we made the announcement of Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill in 2016, I made sure we posted the database of the feedback that came through the public process which was almost 300 historical American women. I didn’t want it to just be about one woman or 10 women but hundreds if not thousands of women overlooked in history. That was the benefit of having that database posted on the Treasury website because it became public document. That level of transparency is important as we make change.

That is also what we go through now. As chair of America 250 which is, again, this Congressional commission planning the nation’s anniversary in 2026, we launched our own initiative called America’s Invitation. We just launched this last July 4th at the Milwaukee Brewers against Chicago Cubs game in Wisconsin, intentionally Middle America, intentionally inviting the public through this video and portal on America 250.org where people can share their stories, memories of the bicentennial, and most importantly, their ideas on how we should commemorate this once-in-a-lifetime historical milestone. We’re a very young country turns 250 but knowing history was longer than that. We are honoring the signing of the Declaration of Independence from 1776, but we think this should be everyone’s journey.

Before the signing and it should continue and not just ending in 2026, but this journey continues on moving forward in becoming a more perfect union.

RACHEL CHAMBERLAIN: Amazing. Such an inspirational story, Rosie. We are grateful to have you for the time–you have to leave at half past the hour. I’m excited to share more with the audience with Shannan and Wendy. Can you share any closing remarks or advice you have for how folks in the audience can get more engaged and active on this topic in their community?

HON. ROSIE RIOS: That is to me?

RACHEL CHAMBERLAIN: Yes. I know you have to leave.

HON. ROSIE RIOS: The thing about change is it’s hard. It happens when we don’t settle. It is finding your voice and owning your power. That for me, has been the most powerful thing that one can say and own for themselves. This is why women, money, and power are three words that are probably the most important to me. We are half the population. We are the engines of the economy and underutilized engine of the economy. If we were fully participating, it would make a huge difference. People wonder what is my metric for how we know to be successful in 2026? My response is the same? America has a very challenging history, but people still want to be here. My goal is to make as many Americans as possible. I feel like this is land of opportunity all over again and I want people to feel what I felt as part of the Bicentennial’s– 11 year old girl in 1976.

Especially for the next generation at my kids, my daughter is 23 and my son, 27, how can they love their country and also understand change is necessary and we have a lot more work ahead of us to evolve. We still have to evolve. The fact that I’m still talking about currency from a project I envisioned 15 years ago, it’s very frustrating for me. I think the next generation has the passion and purpose to make the change that I think we are not just waiting for but trying to do together. Webinars like this, the fact that all these people from all over the world are taking time to empower themselves, that is the best you can ask for. Thank you to She Should Run for inviting me. I apologize that I need to go but keep me in mind for future activities.

RACHEL CHAMBERLAIN: Thanks for your time. Moving on, I would like to hear from Shannan. I have a question for you about financial inclusion which is near and dear to the work that you do. According to 2023 UN report access to financial institutions and accounts is vital for women’s economic security and autonomy. Over the past few years, you have helped lead grassroots for systemic change called underwriting for racial justice. Can you tell us what your group’s mission is and how your work is breaking down systemic barriers to women’s financial inclusion?

SHANNAN HERBERT: Absolutely. First, I have to give a major shoutout to Beneficial State Foundation for leading this work. Their chief impact officer, Erin, was the mastermind behind all of this. She’s in a room and everyone is talking about access to capital, but they are all CEOs talking about access to capital. She said where are the underwriters? Where are the people actually underwriting the loans? Why are they not here? She called me one day and said I want to start this thing. Will you join me and absolutely I said yes. My career was the credit and risk space in traditional commercial bank settings. At this point, I was chief credit officer in community development financial institution and as I was getting deeper in my learning, just being in that space, this was the perfect opportunity to join forces with other like-minded individuals so we can try to figure out what the barriers were and how to remove them so we can get more money into the hands of people that needed it.

We started the journey back in 2021. While we were learning together, we were watching real time, the country go through a pandemic. The racial reckoning we had in the country. PPP, stimulus, everything coming together at once. You could see disparities play out in real time in front of you. While we were working together to figure things out, what came out of that initial engagement is the two year pilot program we launched and put this whole thing together. Spent one year putting it together where we said what needs to happen at the financial institutions in this country to make it such that the people that are not approved for credit and that means women’s, people of color, new Americans, anyone typically left out of decision-making, how can we make sure they have room at the table and they are considered and have resources they need to be successful once they are given that financing?

A lot of people don’t talk about the economy, finances. They don’t know financial terms. I hate to say it but some of that is by design. We have to understand where those knowledge gaps are and fill in the blanks for our customers. Fill in blanks for communities and that is what this initiative is going to accomplish. We set out to do that and will accomplish that with the 20 lenders. When we announce the program, we spent all this time putting it together, me and three other ladies. Once we finished, we stayed maybe 10 lenders will show up and apply. We had 40 lenders come to say we are committed to changing something in our underwriting practices because we know we are probably not doing a great job reaching communities that you are talking about that we’ve been trying to reach.

Some of the banks that are part of this initiative have already done great things. There is one bank in the Northeast that has a business lending for women specifically. There is another, two native CDFI so if they are working with indigenous communities to help them have conversations in addition to providing financing, we have another that helps refinance low-wealth borrowers out of predatory loans. They set up to refinance payday loans, title loans for some of our most vulnerable communities. These are folks doing really great work all over the country, and now they are all in one place. We will do more great work. We will show the results over the two-year period so we will try performance, impact that will hopefully influence the larger organizations to borrow from us and implement that into their underwriting and loan policies.

RACHEL CHAMBERLAIN: Such incredible work, Shannan, especially somebody who worked in financial services and knowing how slow-moving initiatives can be. The speed that you are doing this and getting data back to inform future decision-making is critical. Just as important as financial institution inclusion is for women, another important aspect that I want to talk to Wendy about is inclusion in childcare and in the labor force which is something you touched on earlier. When the pandemic first hit America, $24 billion package was approved to keep childcare centers afloat throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Those funds are mere days from expiring which forces tens of thousands of childcare programs across the country to shut down.

That means three million kids would lose childcare. Can you dive deeper into how Congress failed to act on this? Mothers will be disproportionately affected.

WENDY DOYLE: We are very concerned as the pandemic really highlighted women’s labor participation because of the childcare challenge. The fear is, will we fall back? We have accelerated women’s labor participation back to what it was, if not exceeding where we were pre-pandemic. By Congress not acting, there is a middle asking for federal funding, $16 billion of cash, and American Rescue Plan Act funds are running out and additional infusion to stabilize the childcare sector.

Beyond that, we need to look at what stability is for the childcare industry. This is an industry primarily led by women as business owners. Is primarily a women driven workforce and women of color workforce. Just by that, we need to pay attention to this industry. The fear is the potential childcare closures, we have the potential to fall back to what we were during the pandemic which the labor force participation during the pandemic was what it was in the year 1987. We felt to that low.

This is critical in this moment of time to get this intermediary federal funding to stabilize the industry. We must work together and it will take not only congressional action, but public and private partnership, innovation creativity to solve the childcare challenge.

RACHEL CHAMBERLAIN: Thanks so much, Wendy. Shannan, I’d like to ask you the next question going back to your work around lending practices. Your work to transform bank practice with equal standards not only helps individuals seeking loans, but has a ripple effect on the whole community. Can you tell me more about the ripple effect in communities when individual women are given equal access to financial power?

SHANNAN HERBERT: Yes, and I want to go back to something Wendy said earlier in her remarks about childcare, if that is okay? I just want to second everything that was just said here. I serve as board chair for a nonprofit in Washington D.C. called Beacon House and provide afterschool education enrichment programs for children living in an affordable housing communities. Without Beacon House being there, those families would not have afterschool care for their kids. We keep them engaged for sports, we have a writing program, music, arts. There are tons of thing for children to be involved in. There is also a mental health component to the programming we offer because we know a lot of kids, there were challenges during the pandemic and we recognize that and want to make sure those resources are available for children as they come back to school and back to facilities.

Having conversation around childcare and what it looks like and the support it provides not just to families but the children that are in these programs is critical to the conversation. I wanted to add that given my involvement with Beacon House over the last five years now. Going back to the question about the ripple effect, let’s go back. The equal credit opportunity act was passed in 1974. Prior to that, women couldn’t go into a bank and get a checking account or loan without their husband signing on or giving permission. A woman was not able to do that on her own. And I think about all of the women I know in my family that everyone here has in their families and women that we know that might not be widely known that did so much prior to the passage of the Equal Credit Opportunity act with so little in their communities.

How many women did we know that provided shelter or housing, or started small businesses without having this economic power or financial freedom or knowing anything about finances, they just got it done because that is what we do. We take little, stretch and make it work. We have always done that. If we allow the financial freedom or access to capital to open up to women, what we can do, it is exponential. If you think about what we’ve been able to accomplish with so little. I think about black women specifically being the largest demographic of new business owners in this country. They start more new small businesses every year yet 61% need to self-fund. Why is that?

You are talking about women that can employ others. They can pour it into communities when they are able to generate wealth for families. They provide goods and services to their communities and help another small business by purchasing to help with the work they are doing. There is this ripple effect when you start to fund folks creating the businesses and opportunities but why wouldn’t you do this? This is smart business and we have already proven ourselves and proven with very little. Opening the gate, I don’t think there is a downside.

RACHEL CHAMBERLAIN: That’s exactly right. When women have more money, it’s better for everyone and that is what research tells us. Thanks for your comments. One last question and then I want to get to audience questions. Wendy, we have to talk about pay equity. It’s an important topic to bring up especially because we’ve seen some winning lately. We’ve seen public figures like Taraji P. Henson and the Women’s Soccer team advocate for salaries to match male counterparts. How do we and the listeners on the call channel that unapologetic self-advocacy in everyday lives?

WENDY DOYLE: At the very core, advocating for yourself is about knowing the facts. There is so much information and data to research on what the position has opportunity to make. To bring that evidence to a conversation with a supervisor and advocate for yourself, now, keep in mind, it’s appropriate to look at performance, but advocate at the bare minimum of equal pay for equal work between women and men and that should be part of conversation. Men are extremely skilled at doing research and good at negotiating. We’ve had conversations on college campuses and at universities across the country with women who are graduating and preparing to enter the workforce.

We ask them anecdotally who will you go to, to get negotiations support and tips when you advocate for your first position? Over 90% of young women go to their fathers. As women, we need to do better at negotiating for ourselves so we can model for future generations. The pay gap happens when women step out of the workforce and reenter. Looking at as you are raising your family and so many skills you are doing that once we reenter and advocating, and so much research and data is out there. The key and most underlined takeaway is pull the data together and have an informed conversation.

RACHEL CHAMBERLAIN: I love that because it’s an act that everyone on the call can do. Take the data, negotiate and make the ask and it is an act of persistence. Speaking of which, the questions we have coming in I love because they are action oriented and the audience is interested in taking next steps in their communities and having conversations. I will open these questions to both of you. I think the audience would benefit from your thoughts. What are the top three things women can do in any professional or economic position to help close the inequality gap for women?

WENDY DOYLE: Go ahead, Shannan.

SHANNAN HERBERT: I would say attending webinars like this where we can have dialogue and ask these questions and really start the flow of education because I was serious when I said a lot of these things are kept from us by design. There is a book by a New York Times reporter called the White Wall, on how big finance bankrupts Black America. The financial service industry relies on the fact that you don’t understand the financial service industry. If you don’t understand then you cannot ask questions. Many of us don’t ask those questions because we don’t want anyone to know that we don’t know what it is we are signing away for.

I don’t fully understand these terms but it sounds good so I will sign it. I don’t fully understand this financing package but I need the money so I will sign. These are opportunities for us to ask questions. Closing those equality gaps comes with asking of questions and saying I don’t understand. Let’s figure it out. Help me get there. That is part of the program we put together for lenders. The lender pilot program. Lenders have to provide technical assistance to the borrowers coming into the banks. We need to monitor how that assistance works and how they engage with communities. Do borrowers understand the terms you’re giving them? Are they comfortable with those terms? Is everyone in compliance at the end of 12 months when you review? That is part of this dialogue we need to have the education but also meeting people where they are and making sure everyone has same access to education and ability to ask those questions.

WENDY DOYLE: Rachel, I would just add a couple things. Programs like She Should Run, we need more women running for elected office to advocate for the economic issues that women and families are addressing. United WE has a pipeline to She Should Run and initiative called the Appointments Project which helps get women appointed to boards and commissions at the city, county, and state level. Having women’s voices advocating for the issues is critical. Particularly, in the workplace, the most significant policy that we have pulled women and so many companies don’t have is a paid family leave policy in place. Not only for the birth or adoption of a child, but as we mature in careers to have eldercare opportunities and still keep your job. Advocating for critical policies in place. The third thing is women supporting women and encouraging them to run for office and encouraging them to seek entrepreneurship opportunities. Women supporting women can go a long way. And the final point is, show up and vote. We have responsibility at this moment in time as women are strong in the economy. We have a voice in need to exercise it.

RACHEL CHAMBERLAIN: I love that. Another thing coming through loud and clear and we have shared resources, people want to know what resources can I access? What would you recommend to stay up-to-date for gender equity and how we can advocate more? Do you have favorite resources you can share with the audience?

WENDY DOYLE: I would say there is so much research and United WE has invested in a lot of research studies accessible on the website. If women start to get more comfortable with reviewing the data and feeling confident and having informed conversation certainly not only in the workplace but as they advocate for issues important to sit down with policymakers and having the research and data really inspires and informs good conversation. I’m a big proponent of research. There is so much information out there and you can Google whatever economic issue you are interested in and can arm yourself with information.

SHANNAN HERBERT: I would also add Brookings Institute does a lot of research, especially at the intersectionality of gender and race. You can see how some of these issues impact black women, Latine communities and others. While we might have equity gaps or equality gaps, it is segmented along racial and ethnic lines. It’s important to understand nuances as well so when we encourage women to run, they are running on those issues and nuances. Those things are being called out because if one of us isn’t making it, none of us are. We need to make sure we include everyone’s specific challenges as part of the conversation so we all move forward together.

RACHEL CHAMBERLAIN: I love that. Thanks to the She Should Run team for adding links into the chat for folks. We have time for one or two questions and then move to the wrap-up. This one is a question from someone who identifies as a young person. How would you recommend making an impact on gender equality in the economy as a young person? I saw my mom experience hardship, reentering the workplace after taking time off for kids and I don’t see that issue talked about enough.

WENDY DOYLE: Great point. We talked about a lot of tools and resources. As a young person, start now. I’m a big proponent of the research and there is so much information out there. Start having those conversations with peers so when it’s time for negotiating for the first position or as you are midstream career, you feel confident and comfortable taking that action. I’m a big proponent starting now of being supportive of one another to take that leap and apply for the opportunity or take the opportunity to apply for that promotion. It’s not too early to run for elected office. She Should Run is a great resource to encourage women to engage and get your voices heard.

RACHEL CHAMBERLAIN: Excellent. Anything to add, Shannan?

SHANNAN HERBERT: I agree. Really great points. The starting early piece is really critical, I think. We all talked about where we started in our journeys in this space. My journey started later. Rosie’s journey started later in her career. The sooner you can do it, I think the better. Had I known or had I been fully aware of just how deep these issues were, I would have definitely jumped on earlier in my career. It wasn’t part of my day-to-day or part of what I was involved in. Once I was involved, I realized this is where I need to be and there are things I need to change.

Having more people speaking truth to power saying this is wrong and this is right and these are things to change. Also, find people already doing the work. That was one surprising thing and comforting for me when I started doing more advocacy work and getting involved in racial equity issues. I thought I was on an island by myself until I found these groups all over the place. You find them and you didn’t know they were doing this. It’s this family that I have across the country and even internationally where we are able to connect and share ideas and learn from one another. It is that collective voice that we need to move things along.

RACHEL CHAMBERLAIN: I love that, start early and find your people. There is little limit to what you can accomplish. This hour is flying by and we are just about to wrap up and, in a moment, I will ask panelists to share closing remarks. Before I do that, I want to remind everyone that we want your feedback and we want to hear from you. Amanda posted a survey and we want to continue to improve our programs and provide helpful resources for women like you. The other thing I highlight is we will continue this important issue authorization in a few weeks on October 25. We partner with YWCA and bring your discussion on how women address racism in the local community. Get that on your calendars.

The last thing I want to do is hear Shannan and Wendy, from each of you, any closing remarks. There was so much great information and action items. It was action-packed and I love that. Anything he would leave the audience with as we close out? Shannan, let’s start with you?

SHANNAN HERBERT: For me, it’s all about using whatever position you are in to do something and make a change. Where I sat, I didn’t think it was possible to change a system. You have this big thing in front of you and why would anyone listen to me? I’m just one voice. When you start talking about challenges and start talking about disparities, things that are not fair, there are real examples and data behind what you are saying. This is not just opinion but data showing us that these things exist and some cases, getting worse for certain groups. You cannot argue with the facts. Using that information to create a platform or program, or start initiatives, it sounds scary but it can be done.

I said I think it’s a good idea to start a loan fund to help support small businesses that might miss payments if they are located in under-invested or under-resourced areas, or borrowers who never receive access to funding. People got interested. That’s how these things start. If you have an idea and think the idea can move things along or forward or change for the better, do something. Get involved with an organization already doing the work or start it yourself. You don’t need to wait for anyone else.

RACHEL CHAMBERLAIN: I love it. Wendy, what would you like to leave the audience with?

WENDY DOYLE: We talked about voice today and I encourage the audience to utilize their voice, don’t hold back, and also work to get a seat at the table whether that be the Appointments project or raising your hand to lead a project within her workplace. Step up and get a seat at the table. Support women candidates running for elected office. If you don’t raise your hand, there are great candidates that have and we need to support the women candidates running for elected office. The final thing I would say is we are entering election season for 2024 and it’s a long way away. To not tune out and tune in because there will be economic conversation that women need to learn and educate themselves and most importantly, show up and vote.

RACHEL CHAMBERLAIN: I love it. Thanks so much to Wendy, Shannan, Rosie, not only for your time with the critical work you are doing to advance women and close the inequality gap economically for women in the United States. We hope everybody joins on October 25 for the next webinar. Have an amazing rest of your day.

Got a question? Send us an email at [email protected].