Businessolver Blog

Women and Financial Wellness: The Hard Facts and How Employers Can Help (Part 1) 

Women and Financial Wellness: The Hard Facts and How Employers Can Help (Part 1) 
Posted on Monday, March 13, 2023 by Rae Shanahan

No surprise, women’s financial wellness has been eroding alongside the current economy. Employers play a large role in helping support and empower women far beyond pay equity.  

Women’s financial health has hit rock bottom and is currently at a five-year low according to a recent study by Ellevest. The situation is dire.

Millions of women exited the workforce during the pandemic and their numbers have yet to completely rebound. This was due in part to caregiving responsibilities, which women continue to bear the burden for at a disproportionate rate than men. During the pandemic, women with children were significantly more likely to exit the workforce; their departure also resulted in less money going into savings in an effort to make ends meet. 

Family Over Finances 

The reality is that women are often expected to take on the primary caregiver role.

And while some women may want to prioritize family over finances, this isn’t the case for all women and these expectations can have a lasting impact on their financial stability. Not only does this impact their earning power and ability to save, but it leads to stress which negatively affects every aspect of their wellness, including physical, mental, and financial wellbeing.  

In fact, women in the U.S. are among the most stressed employees globally according to Gallup 2022 report. As such, they are experiencing burnout and exhaustion at higher rates than men. 

Employers can play a large role in providing women with resources and benefits that  help improve and empower their financial wellbeing. These same employers can play an even larger role in evening the playing field for women in the workforce. That work starts with helping women re-capture financial stability and equality.  

Addressing the Pay Equity Gap 

Women account for nearly half of the workforce, yet they still only make about 83 cents for every dollar their male counterparts earn. The earning disparity, paired with a career gap that many were forced to take in 2020, is drastically impacting women’s ability to save, pay down debt, and build long-term wealth. 

It’s no secret that many women face bias and barriers on the path to career success. According to a Pew survey, about 42% of working women have experienced gender discrimination at work—nearly twice the number of men. Additionally, compared to their male counterparts, women are more likely to: 

• Strongly agree that the economic environment has made them more concerned about their financial security (41% vs 34%) 

• Not have a rainy-day fund to cover unexpected expenses (52% vs. 33%) 

• Experience physical and mental health consequences because of financial stress (36% vs. 28%) 

Clearly, financial stability sets the stage for lifelong health with improved mental wellbeing, reduced stress levels, and emergency preparedness.  

In addition to conducting equity audits and closing the pay gap, employers can help women make each dollar go further. For example, offering voluntary benefits like health savings accounts (HSAs) and flexible spending accounts (FSAs). Consumer accounts use a “set it and forget it” approach to ensure funds are available for health expenditures large and small. 

The “Great Breakup”  

By increasing their labor force presence, women have added $2 trillion to the U.S. economy since 1970, but the pandemic extinguished 63% of that progress: $1.26 trillion worth of economic potential. The loss of women hits employers squarely in their earning and innovation power. And now, women leaders are switching employers at the highest rate ever seen—higher than male leaders. Coined the “Great Breakup,” women want more from work and they will leave to get it.  

From pay equity to female-friendly benefits, career advancement opportunities, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), and more. Employers have the power to recognize gender disadvantages and disparities in their own female employee populations and develop strategies to positively impact change for women.  

Our latest findings in our 2023 Benefits Insights Report help employers deliver greater support for women and all employees.