Pay equity is a huge barrier to women’s financial wellness in the workplace, but it isn’t the only one. Most women haven’t used retirement calculators and don’t have backup plans if forced into retirement. They’re not going to ask for help, but employers who provide the right tools can help them help themselves.

Everyone knows: Women make up 46.8 percent of the American labor market, but they still earn an average of 20 percent less than men in the same position. Pay isn’t equitable by any stretch of the imagination.

Even in situations where women and men are offered the same job, women are initially offered salaries up to 45 percent less than what men are offered, according to research from Hired. Hired’s research underscores how critical it is for women to advocate for themselves in negotiations until legislation and corporate policies better support pay equity.

Pay equity isn’t the only issue women face when it comes to financial wellness. Research from Transamerica Center found that less than 10 percent of women have used a retirement calculator and barely 20 percent had a backup plan if they were forced into retirement sooner than expected, either because of job loss, health issues or family obligations.

Why? An argument posed in a MarketWatch article claims that “societal norms and cultural messages undermine [women’s] ability to gain financial literacy and investment expertise.” Research shows that for women, finances, especially issues with personal finances, are generally associated with emotions of embarrassment, shame and fear. Even if women know they need to be more financially literate, they might not ask for help in gaining the knowledge.

Companies know they have a serious problem when it comes to women, pay equity and financial wellness. While both men and women feel financial stress, women feel higher levels of it. And, it causes more complications in their work lives.

That’s where there’s an opportunity for employers to help. Employer-sponsored financial wellness programs like Best Money Moves can bypass cultural barriers and social norms to give women access to the tools they need to measure their financial stress, learn how to manage their money around issues ranging from student loans to mortgages, elder care to relationship issues, and get on track with saving for retirement. The best part about employer-sponsored financial wellness programs is that it takes away any shame or embarrassment associated with asking for help and simply provides the best tools for employees to help themselves.  

Employers might also consider adding policies that pledge equal pay for equal work, especially if they’re in the process of recruiting more women. And with unemployment at 3.9 percent (nearly an all-time low), it doesn’t hurt to work on policies that will attract a demographic that makes up nearly half of the workforce.

Best Money Moves Founder/CEO Ilyce Glink will be giving her expert insight on this topic at the “Women, Pay Equity and Financial Wellness” panel at the 2018 HR Technology Conference in Las Vegas on Tuesday, September 11 at 10:30 AM.

Best Money Moves will be at the 2018 HR Technology Conference in Las Vegas this September 11-14. Stop by booth #753 to learn how you can improve your company and your employees’ financial health.