To mark International Women’s Day, Good With Money has put together the following commandments, for the marketing departments of financial services providers throughout the land.
Thou shalt not patronise any woman, ever
Ah, women, so cute, with your little spreadsheet. Come here love, let me help you with that…
In fairness, I haven’t been patronised that much in my working life. But the odd occasions stand out. Like the time I told a former male colleague I’d set up Good With Money. He looked sympathetic: “lifestyle work is it?” he said. I’ve had two kids and like to try and do the school run, but no, it’s not a “lifestyle job” to fit in around making spaghetti bolognese and walking the dog. It’s a proper commercial venture, with a business plan, profit and loss accounts, advertisers and some big, big world-changing goals. It’s not just something for the little woman to keep her mind active, and it’s not just my way of reminding potential employers I exist. Thanks. I’ve had kids. I love them. I’m still fiercely ambitious with something valuable to offer. *clicksfingers *singsIndependentWomen
Companies with strong female leadership generate 2.7 percentage points more in return on equity versus companies without.
Thou shalt not pay a woman less than a man doing the same job
So obvious, right? If it was made illegal to pay a woman less than a man for doing the same job, we’d sort gender issues out overnight. Instead, we perpetuate this vicious circle, whereby it makes sense, when the crux point comes and children appear, for women to give up their lower paid jobs, rather than their partners. I understand that for those men supporting a non-working or part-time working spouse, a high salary is important in order to make up for one person not earning. But it’s also important for bread-winning women, and yet less readily dispensed. Women shouldn’t have to ask to be paid the same, it should be automatic. Having longer hair and boobs doesn’t get in the way of work: fact.
Thou shalt invest in companies with proper female representation
Mark Taylor, Chief Customer Officer at Selftrade from Equiniti says: “2018 has started with a refreshing attitude towards diversity in the business world, particularly with regards to the representation of women in senior positions. And investors can contribute significantly to ensure this momentum is sustained.
“Responsible investing has been banded around for years, but with concerns that returns couldn’t match the ethical drive for making these investments, it has taken a while to become a viable option for many investors. However, we are now starting to see a real sea change, with research revealing that companies with strong female leadership generate 2.7 percentage points more in return on equity versus companies without*.
“Aside from investing in individual companies with good female representation, you can also invest in ETFs that track diversity. The Barclays Women in Leadership Total Return Index, launched in 2014, groups companies with a female chief executive or at least 25 per cent female board members, and the State Street Global Advisors Diversity ETF, launched in 2016, tracks the SSGA Gender Diversity Index, which chooses companies with the greatest gender diversity within their respective sectors. Both have already shown a strong return on investment, the SSGA Gender Diversity Index was up 18% by the end of 2017, while the three-year growth for the Barclays Women in Leadership Total Return index was 22%.”
Download the Global Impact Investing Network’s “gender lens” investing factsheet.
Thou shalt not penalise women in the workplace for bearing children
God forgive me, in my twenties, I never realised how hard it was for the women in the office with kids at home to maintain anything like the same level of output and commitment as carefree-me. Now, I know how hard it is: how hard to just get dressed and get out the door, let alone act professionally and perform a paid-for role.
Women (nay, parents) who work with kids in the background deserve support, not tuts when they leave at 5pm on the dot. Somehow, they do it, and often (whispers) do it better than those without the time pressures. I’ve been far more productive in my post-kids haze of chaos than I ever was in my more indolent early life. I’m a machine, a paradigm of efficiency. And I still manage to feed, clothe and emotionally and intellectually nurture two whole other human beings. I should be paid double, triple even, whatever everyone else is on, to also cover that unpaid labour undertaken on behalf of the rest of humanity, ie. raising kids.
Also, is it churlish to point out that it takes two to tango, and although the child physically comes out of the woman, it’s not women causing issues for employers when children appear, but rather people who choose to become parents? *ThrowYourHandsUpATMEEEEE
Thou shalt not assume women know less, or want to know less about money, than men
Older generations of women (the over 60s, roughly) used to leave finances to men. There may still be instances of this kind of delegation further down the age curve. However, for the most part, women are financially astute, they do their research and they think about short and long term goals. They’re actually bloody brilliant at it.
So let’s not go down the route of using handbags and shoes as useful analogies so that women can understand finance on their terms (cos clothes and bunnies is all we understand). Let’s just explain things simply and clearly for all customers, whether men or women and encourage women to think about money not because they might get a really nice Chloe coat if they save up for a year, but for all the same reasons that money is important to men.
Women’s financial goals may vary slightly from men’s and they might generally-speaking focus on different areas of household finances (he does the mortgage, she does the insurance, type thing). But there’s no reason to assume we aren’t capable of understanding finance. And women shouldn’t be conned in to thinking that about themselves, either.
I’ve lost count of the number of family gatherings I’ve attended (my other half’s family, actually) where the men talk about their investments on one side of the room and the women move away, to start a conversation about shopping. Or the number of times the dinner chat turns to money and a woman changes the subject to something about someone she knows, or school, or a social plan of some kind. Women, join in these conversations! Your opinions on the markets, or the direction of interest rates, or whether now is a good time to have a buy to let, are just as valuable, believe me.
Thou shalt not cynically market financial products as “empowering” for women
Perhaps in some cases, a product is truly empowering for a woman, like the credit union loan for a domestic abuse victim without a credit record, or the travel insurance policy for a breast cancer sufferer who can’t get cover elsewhere… But on the whole, if a company adopts a really pro-women theme in its marketing, assume it is just a way to win female customers rather than a heartfelt commitment to womanhood. If in doubt, look at the “About Us” page on a website, and see what percentage are women.
… In summary…
We don’t need finance FOR women, we just need clear, simple, honest financial products FOR ALL, man or woman, child or dog. Feminism isn’t a marketing opportunity, women are smart and capable and we don’t need to further cement these “them and us” lines. Equal pay, equal opportunities, equal rights – equal rights to talk about money, to manage money, to make a profit.