How You Can Help to Build a More Equal Future

This week, Maggie is giving you 5 ways to build a more equal future for all of us.

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The theme music is called Escaping Light by Aaron Sprinkle. The podcast artwork design is by Maggie’s dear husband, Dan Rader.


TRANSCRIPTION

Maggie Germano (00:10):\ Hey there, and welcome to the money circle podcast. This week’s episode is brought to you by Stitcher premium. Listen to some of your favorite shows, ad-free with Stitcher premium like unladylike being boss and more. Plus, you can get access to Stitcher originals like the neighborhood Listen and scam goddess. Stitcher premium is only 4.99 a month or 34.99 a year. But if you use the code moneycircle (one word), you can get your first month for free. Go to stitcher.com/premium to sign up today. Thanks so much for listening this week. In case you’re a new listener, I’m your host Maggie Germano and money circle is a podcast for women who want to get their money right without being made to feel like failures. Each week I answer listeners’ money questions and interview amazing women who are lifting other women up with their own work. Don’t forget to rate, review and subscribe in your podcasting app so that more people hear about this podcast and listen, yesterday was international women’s day.\ \ Maggie Germano (01:08):\ I personally like to celebrate women in their accomplishments and push for equality every day. But I’m also happy to welcome everyone else into the fold on days like this. And celebration is wonderful, but it’s also important to talk about what work still needs to be done because we have a long way to go before we can really feel more equal across gender, race, and all of our other identities. So today I want to talk about what we as individuals can do to work towards a more equal future when it comes specifically to gender. This isn’t to say that individuals have the most responsibility because governments and corporations actually do need to do the bulk of the work. They can do more in one fell swoop, than a lot of us can do put together. But that doesn’t mean that we need to sit idly by in the meantime.\ \ Maggie Germano (01:54):\ So over the course of the episode today, I’ll be talking about five different steps you can take in your own life to help build that more equal future. So first would be to negotiate your salary. The gender pay gap is alive and well. On average, women make 20 cents less on the dollar than men make for equal work. And for women of color, the stats are way worse. Ultimately, again, this issue is the responsibility of our government and our businesses. They are the ones who can create and implement equal pay policies across the board. But that doesn’t mean that the rest of us are helpless to make change. In fact, I think it’s really important that we all push for change within the structures that we exist. One way you can do this is to negotiate your salary when you’re offered a new job and ask for a raise within your current organization.\ \ Maggie Germano (02:44):\ Why does this actually matter? So first of all, you’ll never get something you don’t ask for, right? And you are really the only one who you can trust to advocate for you. So you know, you might have a great relationship with your boss and you might get along really well, but they’re not necessarily going to keep giving you a raise at the top of their own mind. If you’re not putting it there, it might not be one of their own personal priorities. So you are really the only person that you can trust to advocate for you. Also, your starting salary can determine how much you will make throughout your career. Often if you stay at the same place for a long time, your raises and promotion numbers, all of that is going to build on top of that original pay that you were offered and that you accepted so you want to be starting at the highest point that you possibly can.\ \ Maggie Germano (03:35):\ It’s also a good opportunity to get more comfortable in negotiating right off the bat. Your salary also impacts how much you’re able to contribute to your retirement fund and therefore how much you will get out of an employer match. Since we’re usually doing a percentage of our paycheck when we’re putting it into a 401k or a 403b, that amount of money is a percentage of what we’re actually earning as our salary. So the higher the salary is, the more money that percentage is going to end up being. Your salary can also determine how much you’re able to put towards debt and other goals. So there is a lot of things going on at once. We are getting underpaid compared to men, but we are also taking on more student loan debt and we are more likely to have to step out of the workforce for a period of time to take care of family members or children.\ \ Maggie Germano (04:29):\ And so those are a bunch of things that are kind of coming at us together. And so the more money that we have to actually take home and set aside and put towards debt, the better off we’ll be. Also, women are increasingly the breadwinners in their households, so it’s almost 50% of women in the United States identify as the breadwinner. So not only are those women earning money for themselves, but a lot of them are going to be earning money for their families as well. And that is going to mean that there are more responsibilities and more people relying on them. So there is going to want to be more of an amount coming in and making sure that you’re earning as much as your male equals at work. Another important fact is that your opportunity for the biggest salary increase actually comes when you’re interviewing for a new job.\ \ Maggie Germano (05:18):\ So if you are looking outside of your current company and interviewing for a job, you’re more likely to be able to negotiate a higher pay than you would when you are within your own organization. However, on average people can earn an extra 7% when they are negotiating, whether that’s for a new job or within their current position. And that really adds up over time that over, you know, over the next 30 or 40 years of your career if you’re asking for a raise every few years that that really add up. So those are just a handful of reasons why negotiating is so important. And the more that you’re talking about salary and income and all of those things at both at work and with your friends and family, the more we can get it out there that you know whether or not people are being paid equally and we’re able to, you know, push each other and motivate each other for that for more resources on how to actually negotiate your salary.\ \ Maggie Germano (06:16):\ Check out a AUW and bossed up. I will link to those in the show notes. The next step is to make sure that you’re talking about money. I’ve said this before, but it’s critical that we all start talking about money in all its different iterations as much as we can. The more we talk about it, the less taboo it will be and the less alone we will feel. Plus we’ll be more aware of the inequality that exists around us. For example, as I started mentioning earlier, if you’re being underpaid in your position compared to your colleagues, there’s no way for you to know that unless someone tells you. There are certainly ways to talk about money at work that are respectful of your colleagues while still helping you to get on an even playing field. Doing this will also empower your colleagues to do the same, but talking about money is important outside of the workplace as well.\ \ Maggie Germano (07:04):\ The more we talk about our overwhelming student loan debt, the more we can fight against the astronomical costs of education as a society. The more we talk about crushing credit card debt, the more equipped we will feel to make a plan to get out of it and put restrictions on credit card companies while we’re at it. Plus, we can set our friends, family, and children up for success by encouraging them to talk and learn about money so that they can feel better prepared in their own lives. The next step, and this is very timely, but it is to vote, vote, vote, vote. The last several months of primary season have been exhausting. I think our elections are incredibly important and even I have been disengaging with the news during the primaries. So if you’ve been doing the same, it’s okay. However, it’s not okay for you to not vote in local, state and national elections.\ \ Maggie Germano (07:54):\ Our elections and government might feel like a hot mess right now, but they won’t get any better if we don’t do our part by voting. In fact, things are certain to stay the same or get worse if we sit it out. So it’s important that you reengage and make sure to vote in all relevant elections. And here’s a little bit about how you can get started. Make sure that you are registered to vote under your current name and current address and I will link in the show notes for how you can do that. But if you go to vote.org that’s a good place to start. And if you’re not registered to vote, it’s actually pretty easy to change that. And a good way to get ahead of this is if you move or you need to go to the DMV to update your license or your ID, you can actually register to vote through the DMV.\ \ Maggie Germano (08:40):\ Next, find your polling place. So vote.org also has a link to help you find your own polling place near you. And I will also link to that in the show notes. And typically that won’t change if your address hasn’t changed, but you never know. Make sure that you know what your polling places so that you don’t go to the wrong place. And then find out when your local elections are. I found a cool website called headcount.org and it links to all of the different States to tell you when your local elections are what they’re for and help you get information on the different candidates that are running for office. It’s important also to make sure that you’re educating yourself about how the candidates stand on the issues that are important to you because if you don’t know that, then it’s going to be tough to make a decision when you actually cast your vote and you should also encourage those around you to vote too.\ \ Maggie Germano (09:34):\ I don’t love peer pressure, but sometimes peer pressure can be really helpful in situations like this, like asking your friends if they have a voting plan, asking your friends if they want to go with you to vote if they live near you and have the same polling place, making sure that your romantic partner or spouse or other family members are going to vote and making a plan to go together and just making that part of a consistent conversation so that the people around you know that you will judge them if they do not vote. And bonus points if you decide to run for office yourself. If you want support in doing that checkout, she should run and Emily’s list. Another step you can take to help build a more equal future is to advocate for equality friendly policies and I don’t mean that just in terms of the government, but I also mean that in terms of any organization or company that you’ve worked for that you’re part of.\ \ Maggie Germano (10:29):\ Just because things are currently as they are doesn’t mean that they have to stay that way. I’m a huge proponent of pushing for change. We don’t have to accept things as they are, especially if we know that they are wrong. That’s why it’s up to us to push our companies and lawmakers to enact policies that level the playing field for all of us. So there are probably countless policies that need to be put into place in companies and organizations and governments all across the world. But here are just a few that I think we should be pushing for. First is universal childcare. One of the things that I worry about most when I think about having kids is the cost of childcare. I live right near Washington, DC and the cost of living is already so high, so when you add in the potential costs of childcare, things can feel pretty dire.\ \ Maggie Germano (11:19):\ I’ve watched my friends with children struggle with making decisions around childcare and they pay an unbelievable amount of money to acquire it. This is one of the issues that actually forces parents, AKA usually the woman out of the workforce because sometimes it makes more financial sense to stay home than to work. Implementing affordable childcare for all would take a lot of emotional, mental and financial stress off of women and their families. Next is paid family leave. I see family leave and not maternity leave because not all family leave is the same. Women are most the ones who have to cut down or stop working to take care of a child, but they’re also the ones most likely to care for an ailing or elderly family member. These breaks and work can be detrimental to the financial health of women and their families. And the United States is one of the only Western countries that does not have paid family leave as law of the land.\ \ Maggie Germano (12:12):\ Plus by only implementing something like maternity leave, it leaves out a whole swath of people, fathers, non-binary folks, anybody who is not the mother of a child, it leaves them out of the conversation when it comes to wanting to stay home and take care of their new child. Right? Plus there are lots of studies that show that if there are two parents in a family system, having both of them home for a period of time to take care of the child together to support each other, to support the mother who just gave birth, it actually leads to better outcomes. So having family leave that is paid so that people don’t have to worry about how they’re going to pay their bills when they’re taking time off is better for everyone. Next is pay equality. So it’s important to speak up for our own pay equality at work, but it’s also important to advocate for pay equality as a requirement across the board.\ \ Maggie Germano (13:12):\ President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter fair pay act in 2009 but it didn’t actually enforce pay equality. In fact, it allowed individuals who face pay discrimination to seek rectification under federal anti-discrimination laws. This was incredibly important, but it didn’t solve the larger issue of companies paying less to begin with. So we need to be fighting for policies in the government and policies in companies that actually enforce equal pay across the board. Last but not least, another thing you should be advocating for is reproductive justice. So as I am saying this, the Supreme court is hearing arguments about a Louisiana law that puts additional restrictions on abortion access in the state. Reproductive rights are ground zero when it comes to women’s rights. These issues signify a woman’s very ownership of her own body. And of course this affects low income women and women of color, much more than higher income white women.\ \ Maggie Germano (14:08):\ So it’s not just a gender issue, but it’s a racial justice issue as well. If you believe in your right to make decisions about your own body, you should be fighting for reproductive justice for all. So the last step that I think you should all be taking, and it’s not a one and done situation, but it is to stand up for others. As I said before, different issues affect different people in different ways. So socioeconomic status often determines the rights and opportunities that we have access to or don’t have access to, but when we are more privileged, it can be easy to put our blinders on when it comes to the problems other people are facing. The truth is though, we all need to be standing up for each other. Those directly impacted by injustice are not capable of speaking up and advocating for themselves. That is why it’s so important for the rest of us to speak up when we see something is wrong and advocate for change, even if we feel like it won’t directly affect us because ultimately oppression against one group threatens oppression against all of us. I hope this gave you some ideas for how you can do your own part to build a more equal future for yourself and for others. As much as it might feel like it, some days we are not actually helpless.\ \ Maggie Germano (15:22):\ Thank you so much for listening this week and make sure to go out there and hug your favorite woman and tell her how much you appreciate her and how amazing she is. And don’t forget to rate, review and subscribe in your podcasting app so that more people will hear about money circle and listen. If you’d like to get more connected with money circle or with me, there are lots of ways you can do that. To join the free Facebook group, visit facebook.com/groups/moneycirclegroup. To stay informed of any upcoming events, subscribe to my weekly newsletter at maggiegermano.com/subscribe. To sign up to attend the next money circle meetup, which is coming up this Wednesday, March 11th, visit Maggie germano.com/moneycircle. To learn more about my financial coaching services, my speaking and workshop offerings, or just to read my blog, visit Maggiegermano.com. You can also follow me on Instagram and Twitter @MaggieGermano. Have a wonderful week.