Today, and every year on March 8th, we celebrate International Women’s Day.
This is a day when we highlight the achievements of women and issue a call to action for progress toward gender parity. This year, the theme #BalanceforBetter tackles the importance of creating a gender-balanced world in a range of areas like business, employment, government, education, media coverage, and wealth.
In addition, working toward a gender-balanced world means eliminating the wealth gap between men and women. Don’t confuse the gender wealth gap with the gender pay gap. While the pay gap measures what is earned, the wealth gap measures what is owned. And, get this: Single women only own 32 cents to every dollar that single men own.
So, how can we strive for gender balance when it comes to building wealth? Here are four things we can do to #BalanceforBetter this International Women’s Day.
1. Ask for a raise
According to research from The World Bank, the lifetime earning disparity between men and women is causing a global loss of wealth of $160 trillion. While it may seem difficult to grasp a loss of that magnitude, you may experience some sort of small pay disparity in your own paycheck.
That’s right. Women are still paid 80 cents to every dollar that a man is paid. Even when you factor in race, education, experience, and location, the Economic Policy Institute reports that, on average, women are paid 22% less per hour than men.
What can you do about these scary statistics? For starters, ask for what you’re worth.
You can do this by regularly assessing your salary and asking for a raise. Before you negotiate, however, spend some time practicing your pitch so you feel confident with your ask.
While asking isn’t a guarantee that you’ll get the raise, if you don’t ask, you will likely get nothing. So, why not give it a try?
An important component of building wealth is investing.
Unfortunately, according to a survey from Wealthsimple, women invest far less than men. Why? Because they are less confident when it comes to investing, even though they are just as confident as men in other financial areas, like bill paying and budgeting, according to a Merrill Lynch study.
This is where the gender wealth disparity compounds. If women are paid less and aren’t investing as much, they’re missing out on opportunities to build wealth.
Yet, there’s a silver lining: When women do invest, their investments outperform men’s investments.
So, it’s time to start seriously looking at ways you can invest. If you’re nervous, there are a number of ways you can get started. You can start with an employer-sponsored retirement plan, like a 401(k), or open your own Individual Retirement Account (IRA). Even if you don’t have much cash to start investing with, you can also begin investing with as little as $10 via robo-advisors like Betterment.com.
3. Talk about money
Learning about money can be intimidating and that intimidation can deter you from discussing money matters with friends and family.
You may think everyone else knows more about finance than you, or that your family handles money better than you. But don’t let those worries stop you. While it can be difficult to talk about money, it’s important to do so. Why? Discussing money with someone you trust can help you both improve your financial knowledge.
For example, talking about budgeting can help you set realistic expectations about what you can spend. And, sharing your favorite financial products — like a bank account that automates your savings — can help others discover things they may not know about.
If you’re not yet comfortable talking about money with people you know in real life, there are plenty of online sources you can turn to like Ladies Get Paid, Bogleheads, iFundWomen, and Reddit Personal Finance.
4. Lift others as you climb
As you make strides in your own financial life, look for other ways to invest your time or money in other women.
For starters, you can mentor other women as they climb the career ladder, and this can have a direct impact on their earning potential. For example, you can encourage a female friend to ask for a promotion or figure out a new career path.
If you can financially support other women, consider investing in women-owned businesses. While women own 30% of all small businesses, they only account for 17% of Small Business Association loans and 2.2% of venture capital funding. So, female founders can use your help. In fact, according to PitchBook, the investor side of things is also lagging behind when it comes to gender equity: Just 11.3% of all partners at venture capital firms in the U.S. are women.
Where to find new companies run by girl bosses? You can begin by checking out start-up projects on the iFundWomen crowdfunding platform. IFundWomen, also a female-owned start-up, helps women raise funds for their businesses through coaching programs and access to a community of female entrepreneurs.
While we have our work cut out for us when it comes to achieving wealth equity, this International Women’s Day is a great time for you to help. In the meantime, let’s all celebrate the progress women have made thus far as we work together to achieve #BalanceforBetter.