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The investing challenges facing women during the pandemic

Yahoo Finance's Alexis Christoforous moderated a webinar about the obstacles women face when it comes saving during the pandemic. Participants included officials from the Bipartisan Policy Center, Edelman Financial Engines, the Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center, the Aspen Institute, and the American Council of Life Insurers.

Video Transcript

KELLY DARNELL: Welcome, and thank you for joining us for our digital event co-hosted by Yahoo Finance and Funding Our future. I'm Kelly Darnell. I'm chief operating officer at the Bipartisan Policy Center. Funding Our future was launched in 2018 by the Bipartisan Policy Center, along with Edelman Financial Engines. Funding Our future is a coalition of 50 diverse organizations, coming from the nonprofit, academic, and corporate sectors. They are dedicated to making financial security and especially retirement security a reality for all Americans.

I'd like to thank our partners, especially our executive partners, BlackRock and the Charles Schwab Foundation for making this event possible. Today's discussion will discuss-- will talk about women's financial security, research in that area, as well as policy solutions to address the challenges that women face in pursuit of their financial wellness. Women and their families, who are already treading water-- water because of the pandemic, are bearing the brunt of the current pandemic. Women, particularly women of color, have lost more jobs than men, as industries dominated by women have been hit hardest.

Prior to coming to the Bipartisan Policy Center, I had the great pleasure of spending time at Fannie Mae and at Bank of American and Capital Market Structured Finance. In that role, I was the only woman on that team. And I was the only person of color on that team. It brought to light the gap that exist in knowledge around finance to not only women, but to people of color. I look forward to this conversation because I think the education and the information needs to be available to all. And so I thank you for joining us. And I'd like to introduce our moderator, Yahoo Finance anchor, Alexis Christoforous.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: All right. Thanks so much, Kelly. I appreciate. Hello, everybody. I am Alexis Christoforous. We're so excited to be joined today by partners of the Funding Our Future initiative for this event focused on women's financial security, as we wind down Women's History Month. You know, a consistent theme over the past year is how this pandemic has impacted women in particular, and especially women of color.

Nearly three million women have exited the American workforce over just the past year, as we've seen this coronavirus-induced exodus. It reflects the persistent pay inequality that we experience, undervalued work for women, and also some antiquated ideas about caregiving. And we have some experts joining us today on our panel to talk through all of this, I want to introduce them to you now.

Kelly ODonnell is executive vice president and head of workplace at Edelman Financial Engines. We also have with us Hallie Davis. She is Senior Research Associate at the Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center at the George Washington University School of Business. It's great to have you both with us. Thank you for being here.

Kelly, I'm going to start with you, if you could set the stage for us. Certainly, there were challenges for women in the workplace prior to the pandemic. And then, of course, this past year has just exacerbated things. Can you sort of outline for us what some of those challenges have been?

KELLY ODONNELL: Yeah thank you, Alexis. So glad to be here and talk about this important subject. You know, women really face three big headwinds when it comes to financial security. First, they are out of the workforce more often. They are giving-- they're having childbirth. They are providing caregiving.

And then when they are in the workforce, they are earning less than men, typically $0.81 on the dollar. And then lastly, women live longer. They, on average, are living longer-- five years longer than men, which means that we need for women to have their savings last longer. All of this leads to the fact that 68% of seniors who are in poverty are women. And that, as you said, all these trends have been accelerated by the pandemic.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Hallie, I know that you do a lot of work looking at Black and Hispanic women, in particular, their-- their place in the workforce, their place in the investing world. How has this pandemic disproportionately impacted them?

HALLIE DAVIS: Yeah, so in addition to a lot of the issues facing women, another aspect that we're looking at is within financial knowledge and financial fragility. Women are more likely to be financially fragile, which it is they can't come up with $2,000 in an event or an unexpected expense came up. Additionally, women have consistently lagged behind in financial knowledge.

A recent survey by [INAUDIBLE] [? GFLEC ?] showed that the area of finance that women know the least is in comprehending risk and uncertainty. And COVID has certainly created-- has increased the amount of risk and uncertainty that individuals face in their financial decisions, which [AUDIO OUT] ill equipped to make financial decisions in this current environment.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: I mean, I think that's so important. And it certainly has to do with [AUDIO OUT], right, Hallie, when you look at women and investing. How can we start to change that narrative and have women-- is it-- is it that women are just not exposed to these things enough? Is it-- is it a confidence issue for them? And-- and what part maybe can-- can the private and public sector play in-- in trying to change things for women?

HALLIE DAVIS: We've seen that there is a gender gap in financial literacy and stock market participation, so within investing. This isn't necessarily unique to the US. [AUDIO OUT] globally. And we have a recent paper titled "Fearless Woman, Financial Literacy and Stock Market Participation" where they look at the role of financial literacy and confidence in helping to explain this gap. And what they find is that women may know more than they realize. Up to one third of that gender gap in financial knowledge can be attributed to or hinges on self-doubt, so confidence in making investment decisions.

When it comes to gender, despair confidence can translate into large differences in financial behavior, and the accumulation of wealth. So we're looking at as we improve financial knowledge, improving confidence among women can make an impact in how they invest and make decisions in participating in the stock market.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Now Kelly, I know that I did a survey at Edelman about women and their finances during the pandemic. And I was working my way through it. And some of these numbers are really startling. Over 70% of women say the pandemic has impacted their finances. And on average, they expect it's going to take them three years to make up the financial damage. What are some of the other key takeaways from that survey?

KELLY O'DONNELL: Yeah. It's pretty devastating. What we have found is that nearly 40% of women had some sort of event, or life event, during the pandemic that has impacted them financially, whether that meant they dipped into their emergency savings, they sold stocks or investments, they had a job loss, or a pay cut, or for many there was unexpected medical expenses.

And as you said, what we're seeing is that women are expecting that it's going to take a few years to recover from what has happened over the past 12 months. And that is even more so for women of color. We see that they are expecting that they will recover in over six years.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: So what are some practical things that women can do to try and change their odds? And how can corporate America assist women as they try to do that and try to get a lot of these women back into the workforce? As I think a big worry here is that I opened by talking about three million women having left the workforce over the past year, many of them because of the pandemic. And the fear is they're not going to come back into the workforce. So how do we change that for them?

KELLY O'DONNELL: Yeah. So I think for women that aren't in the workforce currently, my advice is it's never too little or too early to start. Even a little bit of savings every week is going to make a difference over the long term. Part time employment can help with benefits. Benefits is where you really see the compounding factor being in the workforce. You have access to a 401(k) plan, you receive an employer match, your social security benefits are going to be higher later on.

So the employer is a place that is really right now, I see corporate America, very focused on the unique needs of women. Emergency savings accounts, student loan support. If you don't have an employer right now, don't be frustrated by that. Keep looking towards savings. Every little bit counts. And it will add up in the long term.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Hallie, what would you say is the biggest challenge or one of the biggest obstacles facing women when it comes to investing and saving for the short term and also the long term?

HALLIE DAVIS: I think women face a lot of different obstacles and very much of it's connected. Financial literacy, we like to think of as part of an ecosystem, that it's not the only solution to helping women achieve financial security and well-being. But it's an essential element of that. And it is a part where women, as mentioned, lag behind that of men. So improving that financial literacy and confidence can really make a big difference in when they start to save, and having the confidence to make decisions for themselves and that are best for themselves.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Yeah. Kelly, what do you think would be the long term implications of, say, a large majority of women not returning to the workforce? Because we know before this pandemic, the workforce was about 50-50. Women had made great strides in the workforce. And now it seems like over the past year, they've taken two giant leaps back. So what would the unintended consequences be if we don't get enough women back into the workforce?

KELLY O'DONNELL: Yeah, and we know companies do better when there's women in the workforce, when there's women on boards, and in executive positions. So for us to be productive as a economy, it's a good thing that women in the workforce.

But more importantly, as we think about policy implications, if you look at those poverty numbers and women living longer, and we look at employers really being part of that important kind of three legged stool that helps with retirement security, I think there's many policy implications if we don't have women back in the workforce. And how are we going to support these women when our life expectancy is continuing to grow?

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Also, I read a disturbing stat from the World Economic Forum. They did this analysis. And they said it'll probably take 130 years for women to achieve pay parity with men because of the huge setback the pandemic has had on women. When you hear something like that, Kelly, it sounds like we have an awful lot of ground to make up. What would your message be to corporate America after hearing something like that?

KELLY O'DONNELL: It's time. And I think we've seen that. We feel it from the women that are stepping up to join in our political system, that are leading companies. It's time that we really take that step forward. It's definitely challenging because we have a lot of ground to make up. But we won't get there until we see corporate America really start to take those steps forward.

I'm encouraged by what I'm seeing in terms of the dedication by many of the Fortune 500 around their board, around their executive positions. And I think through-- I know with all the employers we're working with today, diversity, equity, and inclusion is at the top of their list in 2021 and beyond.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: I want to talk a little more about diversity and inclusion. And Hallie, if you can specifically talk a little bit about the challenges facing Black and Hispanic women versus women at large. I mean, are there challenges specific to them in the workforce specific to them when it comes to investing?

HALLIE DAVIS: Yeah. So it's certainly important to look at differences between men and women. But we also look at focus at the variation and differences within women. So we recently released a paper that looks at financial well-being of Black and Hispanic women. So beyond financial knowledge, it's also how do they perceive their financial wellness? And we find that Black and Hispanic women are less likely to have assets, and more likely to use high cost borrowing.

But we also find these meaningful differences in how financial well-being is influenced. So there's differences in education, family structure, employment, as well as financial literacy. So this means that financial well-being, how they see their financial wellness, is influenced differently. And there's no one pathway to financial security, to financial wellness. A one size fits all approach is not going to fit those diverse needs in particular for Black and Hispanic women.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: And finally, what workplace tools or advice for employers would you have, Kelly, in the final minutes that we have here when they consider bringing these women back into the fold?

KELLY O'DONNELL: I mean, I think one of the things kind of to talk about what Hallie just said was we need to meet women where they are and recognize what they need and their unique situations, whether it's care giving that they're doing, the need for flexibility. And one of the things that I'm really excited about is employee resource groups that are focused on women.

We've had a great experience working with women ERGs because it's a safe space, a community where people can join to talk with women about their challenges, their unique needs. And I think employers are really focusing and supporting on creating those communities where women are going to be able to flourish.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: All right, we're going to leave it there on a positive note. Kelly O'Donnell and Hallie Davis, thanks so much for being with us today. We appreciate it. And I want to pivot now to the policy behind some of these challenges and turn our attention to possible solutions. That's what this is all about. How do we help? How do we make a difference?

I want to welcome our panelists now, Adrienne Schweer, fellow and lead of the Paid Family Leave Task Force, the Bipartisan Policy Center, Susan Neely, president and CEO at American Council of Life Insurers, and Joanna Smith-Ramani, the managing director of the Aspen Institute Financial Security Program.

Welcome to you all. Before we dive into solutions, I want to discuss one challenge we didn't really dive into in that first panel, sort of the elephant in the room. And that is child care. And Adrienne, I want to start with you. Can you talk a little bit about how that particularly is affecting women right now during the pandemic?

ADRIENNE SCHWEER: Yeah, Alexis. Thank you for having me. I'm so glad to be here. And I think this is one of the most important areas to focus on when we're thinking about that big data point, three million women who have left the workforce. Our research shows that one quarter of them cite that care giving is the primary reason that they had to leave, and that we see major gender imparity between men and women who left the workforce during COVID for child care giving in particular.

And one area of big interest for me is that we found mothers with children under the age of two were leaving at a significantly higher rate than mothers of older children. So despite the school closures being the primary area of conversation, and a very necessary intervention for us right here right now in this moment, it may not be the one and only solution that's going to get women back to work. Because a lot of women with younger children are struggling with access to child care, they're not comfortable sending them back, they've been home now for a year with their children.

They're really struggling with what this looks like for them as they return to work.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: And Joanna, maybe you could outline for us some of the challenges that women, and especially women in low and moderate income levels, are facing when it comes to building a broader financial portfolio for themselves, if you will, especially in the workplace, and having that emergency savings that can give them some more flexibility, also with their families as they care for their children.

JOANNA SMITH-RAMANI: Yeah. I mean, that's fundamental, is positive cash flow. Having extra money more than you need to spend every month on your household budget. And routinely positive cash flow being the foundation of financial security starts with needing to earn more than you spend. As we said in the last panel, having the right complement of benefits that can help with expenses, help with building your wealth, help with having access to savings.

But it's really tricky, especially for low wage workers who are women in this country. Because they tend to over dominate the kinds of work sectors. There's occupational segregation where they don't get benefits, they don't have regular hours, they don't have the kind of flexible work that many of us have had the luxury to experience in the past year.

And essentially, they're in the kind of work environment that doesn't allow for the kind of foundational positive cash flow, financial security, setting that they need to get forward. I mean, they're basically sort of every day of working is getting them behind in a lot of ways.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Susan, maybe you can talk to us a little bit about how employers should be thinking about these obstacles when it comes to women in the workforce. How can they help them on their path to financial security?

SUSAN NEELY: Well, I think-- it's a great question because employers can play a huge role in this. And as Kelly said so well, they are. I think corporate America understands fully the importance of providing retirement security and savings options for the employees and paid family medical leave. I mean I've work for companies where this is a competitive differential to go after the best and brightest.

So corporate America is stepping up. I think Joanna and Hallie put their finger on it though. For women and 2/3 of Latinas worked for small businesses that don't offer retirement savings, don't offer paid family medical leave, they're just not able to do that. But 16 million workers in the gig economy, African-American women are in jobs where they can be more disadvantaged. That's a big area where policymakers need to focus and figure out ways to help the private sector do what it can do so well.

And if we think about retirement savings in particular, there is policies that make it easier for employers, small businesses, and others to offer retirement savings options and policies that can nudge and help us as employees to save more. And I guess the good news is that there is bipartisan support for both those things. And for all of us as women, the time is now to really be activated to say to Congress and the White House, let's get it done.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Well, it's nice to hear that there is a bipartisan issue that everybody on the Hill can sort of rally around. What better issue than this? Adrienne, when you think about policy's place in all of this, what kinds of policies should we be considering or do you think would be of most help, and that think also stand the chance of getting passed sooner rather than later in order to aid women?

ADRIENNE SCHWEER: So Alexis, I think that's the most important question you've asked today because the policy is where we're going to get this done for large amounts of people and really help American workers. The challenge I see in front of us is that partisan policy isn't lasting policy and won't stick around for the long term to help bridge that 130 year gap you just terrified me with.

And I think we need to be pushing for more bipartisan conversation around retirement security. And I would credit Susan's great work and the work of others around this country who helped pass a bipartisan bill called the SECURE Act and are working for the next generation of that. There's a lot that has been done in a bipartisan way over the last few years. And I hope we can carry it forward.

In particular, I hope we can carry it forward around paid family and medical leave. Most working families do not have access to paid parental leave, paid family care giving leave, or paid medical leave. And there are private sector solutions to that. And there's a public policy solution to that. And we really need a national program that sets some standards that gets more people access.

I think if we would have had that in place, we wouldn't have the numbers we're seeing right now of women who have left the workforce. I think that 12 week bridge, if they were lucky enough to have it, could have really helped a lot of people stay connected to the workforce and come back quicker.

And this whole year away is going to be really hard to return to work without the comfort of a paid parental, paid family care giving, or paid medical policy that you know will be there if you have another situation like we've had this last year, or if you have a new baby, or your daughter has leukemia, or your husband gets hit by a car, or you have one of those terrifying experiences yourself.

So I'm really hopeful that we'll see bipartisan action on those issues and that bipartisan action will lead to lasting solutions.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: And certainly--

SUSAN NEELY: Alexis, if I could just add--

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Yes, please.

SUSAN NEELY: If I could just add that I think Adrienne is right on on that. The time is now. Paid family medical leave. We need a public and private market solution. And disability insurance is providing an income replacement for employees, particularly women, that need to take time out of the workplace. And we've got a lot of knowledge on how to expand that. It doesn't have to be a government only solution.

And again, we have clout as women. I just can't say that enough. We should not be passive right now. We should stand up and shout and get done exactly what Adrienne is talking about.

JOANNA SMITH-RAMANI: That's right.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Yeah. Joanna, I see you nodding your head there. I mean think we can all agree that the pandemic has changed how we work. So many people realize that they could do things from home, do things remotely. I as a broadcaster never thought I'd be able to work from home. And yet here I am. So Joanna, can you talk a little bit about how this is going to impact women in particular? How has the workforce changed possibly forever post the pandemic?

JOANNA SMITH-RAMANI: Well, so that's a great question. And I mean, I think the-- so many women in professional jobs that are the kinds of jobs that have benefits and give you sufficient income, and so the wraparound of benefits plus income, that perfect cocktail if you will, that happy hour cocktail, the pandemic hasn't harmed them that much. I mean, most certainly mental health wise. I mean, let's be real. But financially hasn't harmed them that much.

But that is still not the real lived experience for most low wage working women in this country who, again, don't have the kind of jobs that allow them to work from home like it looks like all of us are doing right now that give them the perfect cocktail of benefits plus income. So I think that's where, as Adrienne was saying, that the real exciting place to be is right now is in, where does policy support the kinds of women in jobs for whom that private sector is doing the best they can?

It's not that we're saying, these are bad employers or bad actors. But we need some support from policy that helps both figure out how you get to scale, figure out how to target the right set of workers, and figures out fundamentally how you fund it and how you fund it equitably. And the one thing I'll just add to specific policy proposals is that Susan's right. The time is now. And people are excited and motivated. And it is really a bipartisan feeling.

And so instead of a specific policy I'll mention, I'll mention a sort of design feature of a policy that I think we need to talk about here, which is portability. And that would really help get to all kinds of workers regardless of who they work for. It's sort of I can be-- as opposed to my benefit being attached to my job, which may or may not offer it to me, and there's so much occupational segregation as I mentioned, my benefits attach to me because I work. And it travels with me to different jobs.

So really just thinking about kind of the heart-- we know sort of the heart of the benefits we need. But what we want to be really imaginative around is the distribution of them and the funding of them to make sure they're inclusive for all women.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Something I brought up with the-- go ahead. Go ahead.

ADRIENNE SCHWEER: Alexis, I just wanted to add one extra thing that's something I've been thinking about a lot. President Biden has put forth his plan for getting people back to work and this jobs plan. And one component of it that you're not seeing as much of are the things that are going to allow women to go back to those jobs. So it's great to create them. But it's policies like paid family leave. It's child care. It's knowing that if the loved one that you care for and checking on in an elder care facility every day, or who might live in your home, is going to have the care they need.

There's a lot of interventions needed to help get women back into the workforce so that they can continue saving for their retirement so that they can continue contributing their 401(k) and earning their social security benefits. And that's not as much a part of this plan. And I think that's a challenge because those two things go hand in hand. And there's a policy role for both.

What I am hopeful for is that a lot of those interventions around child care and around paid family leave do have bipartisan support. And as everybody's called for, they should see their form of regular order with Congress actually doing its job and working in a bipartisan way. This year, while there's a big jobs plan and other things going on, we can't be holding these meaningful bipartisan opportunities hostage for other big agenda items. I'd love to see them going in parallel paths.

JOANNA SMITH-RAMANI: Yeah.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Yea, I think when you look at the infrastructure plan, that $2 trillion infrastructure plan that the president is laying out, I know we've all been waiting for it quite some time. It's supposed to really juice the economy. But I guess, Susan, when you think about it, how many of the jobs that that infrastructure plan will create will actually impact women and women of color? I mean, do we perhaps need an addendum to that plan?

SUSAN NEELY: Well, I think there's a lot in the plan. And there's more being discussed of a component that'll directly focused on racial equity and addressing some of the very issues we're talking about in terms of wealth gap and that kind of thing. When you think about policy, there's not one panacea in what we're talking about. But there are certainly solutions out there. And there are good thinkers on both sides of the aisle in Congress who are listening and looking to advance it.

The interesting thing about retirement security, which Adrienne has brought up is that all of this that we're talking about, the ability to stay in your job because you can have income replacement when you take time off to care for a child, your ability to put money in a 401(k), or even have a 401(k) or some kind of retirement savings mechanism, the ability to earn a paycheck, all of that is really what adds up to having sufficient money in retirement.

So we have to look at all of this. And as we do, that will put women in better positions as we move into our 60s, 70s, when you really look at retirement.

JOANNA SMITH-RAMANI: Yeah.

SUSAN NEELY: Joanna talked about the design feature as it relates to portability. Another important design feature as you think about retirement security is making it easier for small businesses to offer retirement savings options to their employees. It's not because they don't want to take care of their employees. It can just be an additional expense and there's legal challenges to do it properly that are in place just to make sure that employees are protected.

What the SECURE Act did that Adrienne mentioned is allow small businesses to band together. And that can be a florist, and a auto mechanic, and a printer. They can all band together to be able to offer retirement savings vehicles to their employees. Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee and others have additional ideas on how to make it, again, easier for small businesses to make those things available to employees. Not just retirement security, but we could also get some lessons there for paid family medical leave as well.

So again, there are solutions out there. And they're active. These aren't just pie in the sky ideas. They're bills that are being drafted in Congress that'll follow after exactly what you're talking-- in tandem with infrastructure package and the things that are being discussed to stabilize the economy.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: I want to talk for a moment about pay inequality because there is this number out of the World Economic Forum saying that it's going to take women over a century now to reach pay parity with men just because of how much this pandemic has pushed women progress in the workforce behind.

Certainly not an easy thing to tackle. But Joanna, I'm going to ask you, and perhaps we can round robin it. But how do we start to achieve that parity and sort of make up for the lost time that's happened over this past year with the pandemic?

JOANNA SMITH-RAMANI: Yeah. I mean, that number-- I'm going to be sleepless tonight. So thank you for sharing that with us, Alexis.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: I know.

JOANNA SMITH-RAMANI: I think policies that help women with children, so things like the child tax credit, other ways that we continue to raise women out of poverty in persistent durable ways will help them speed that up, frankly. So that's one basic thing is that we need to in a consistent, predictable way support our moms that are working and support our moms with kids, and have them know where that money is coming in so they can start doing savings and other things.

The other thing I'll mention is that I mean, fundamentally we do have to fix the pay gap, which then is leading to a really desperate wealth gap, which we haven't actually talked about. And that can be done through policy. That can be done through ways that we, I think insist is the wrong word, but that we do different kinds of encouragement through policy and incentives to make sure all kinds of employers, especially the employers that employ low wage women, to offer benefits.

There's a really-- another statistic that may keep you all up at night, is that of our compensation packages, 2/3 are income. But the other third of the way that we are compensated in our wealth is our benefits. And so there are many, many women, especially women of color, and those are the growing industries in our country that employ those women that don't have that. They are missing a third of compensation. So that will never, we will never get to closing that gap in any speedy way until we are looking at equity around the whole package, not just the income around how workers thrive in this country.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Adrienne, I'd love for you to weigh in on that and how you think policy can help to close that pay gap that has now widened over the past 12 months.

ADRIENNE SCHWEER: So I think there are a lot of policy mechanisms. One of them is what Joanna was talking about, which I think is the most understood, which is setting some type of a mandate or a federal policy and requirement. But I think others are policy interventions on the path of someone's career that help them stay connected to the workforce.

A lot of pay equity is not just the careers that people go into, but it's the time that they take off in between education, may be high school or college, and going back to work to bear children, to raise families, to help support their families, that tend to impact their work. And I think interventions like paid leave could really help. I think access to affordable flexible child care could really help a lot of women stay connected to the workforce and earn the same pay as their male counterparts later on in their careers.

But I think there are a lot of different interventions that should be talked about as a part of the ecosystem required to help women reach pay equity.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: And Susan, I'll have you jump in here. What are your thoughts on ways that we can sort of close that gap? And how can policy play a role?

SUSAN NEELY: Well, I just would echo what Joanna and Adrienne have said about it's benefits, making it easier for employers to offer these critical benefits, paid family medical leave, retirement security, these things that will help put women in a better position from a financial standpoint. I can't tell you how tuned in corporate America and CEOs are now to the special needs of women and child care.

I mean, if there's some silver lining out of the pandemic, every conversation I'm in with CEOs now, they're talking about sensitivity to their parents who have had-- both moms and dads who've been dealing with online schooling, or toddlers, and trying to work. There is a sea change of awareness now. Certainly those of us who have raised kids while we were working were already pretty tuned in. But I think there's a sea change of awareness because we brought our homes right in front and center to what the needs are.

And companies are making decisions about when to return to office based on minimizing stress on their moms and dads. So that's a big improvement. And that's going to produce real change. And then the last thing I would say is we have to talk to our sons and daughters, that point made earlier about our lack of financial confidence and literacy.

We need to talk to our sons and daughters and be more forthright and forceful and have confidence in ourselves as the financial planners of the household. Because certainly, that's how we operate now. And we're doing that work. So we need the confidence to make the decisions.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Well, this was a great conversation and one that can go on and on. But hopefully the lawmakers were listening. Because I think there were some great ideas here too on how policy and the private and public sector can work together to help lift us all up. So my thanks today to Adrienne, Susan, and Joanna for being with us. Stay tuned for more upcoming Funding Our Future events with Yahoo Finance. I'm Alexis Christoforous. Be well and we'll see you soon.