In the United States, women who work year-round earn somewhere near 82 cents for every dollar earned by men — but they only own about 32 cents for every dollar of wealth owned by their male counterparts. Both of these gaps are far more acute for black and Latina women.
These stats aren’t new, but the way we talk about them and design solutions needs a fresh approach, says Thasunda Brown Duckett, the CEO of Chase Consumer Banking and one of the most senior black women in finance. She’s working to improve financial literacy and health for millions of people, especially those in underserved communities. One example is a recent effort focused on expanding economic opportunities for black women.
“When we start discussions about the gender or racial wealth gap with ‘It’s hard,’ we are basically saying we have permission to fail,” she says. “We don’t use that phrase with any other metric in business. If you think ‘It’s hard,’ the next thing you say is you are going to work until midnight, or you are going to invest in figuring this out. If we take away ‘It’s hard’ when thinking about how to close the gaps, we’ll start running different plays.”
Duckett and I talked about some of these plays, ranging from changing the way we talk about money to the role of finance in accelerating women’s power and influence. This is an edited version of our conversation.
Why is addressing the gender wealth gap important?
What we need to be talking about is not just what women are making. It’s what they’re keeping. It’s not about just renting, but owning, a home, about how to transfer wealth to their children. It’s critical to talk about how the money is or isn’t working for women, so that as they are starting businesses, and as they are starting to move up with their earning income, they’re creating longer-term wealth. With more women being single parents, being the head of their household, waiting longer to get married, we have to make sure that they are creating wealth for themselves, and not relying on someone else to have the knowledge and manage those decisions.