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Fostering a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion goes beyond just maintaining quotas for hiring and promoting employees or establishing ERGs (Employee Resource Groups). It requires meeting the various members of your workforce where they are and giving them the support they need to show themselves (and get out of) and feel whole and empowered in the workplace.
When I first started working in banking, I was overwhelmed by decisions related to choosing benefits like 401,000 referrals and health insurance plans. I found that a coworker was making 15 cents an hour more than me for asking, and the bitter taste of a "don't ask, don't tell" culture around compensation kept me from doubling up and doing more desire.
When businesses place an emphasis on hiring a diverse workforce, they bring more than one face, unique name, or ethnic background with them. They discontinue everything that makes that person a whole, including their mindset, beliefs, habits, and education (or a lack of them) in relation to money. As many people are primarily looking for financial compensation, efforts should be made to get it recognized.
Here are four ways financial empowerment fits into your diversity strategy.
A staff member once asked me: "What is it like to be poor?" After telling a story about how my family dealt with financial difficulties when I was young. I wasn't sure how to answer the question without saying it "wasn't fun". There is no way to know your employees' financial background, but a financial empowerment program can create a platform for people to safely share their experiences and an opportunity for those interested to hear from them without being offended.
Assuming that everyone wants to talk about their humble beginnings can be just as damaging as assuming that everyone comes from the same financial background or has the same financial foreground regardless of how much money they make. This also speaks in favor of the etiquette of soliciting voluntary contributions on gifts for holidays, birthdays, and bosses, or for post-work gatherings such as corporate parties or happy hours where attendees are expected to pay while social. Employees may feel pressured to participate in order to hide their financial problems or priorities, which creates additional financial pressure and stress.
Related: Enhancing Diversity in the Technology Bubble
A financial strengthening program can help address wage differentials and learn about the etiquette used to determine market prices for salaries that have a specific role, years of experience, and location. Glassdoor is good at aggregating information to get a basic expectation about an employee's market value, and often provides a scope for what he or she can expect in a particular role based on anonymously reported salaries for the same role and title . The difference between education and empowerment is feeling confident about asking about what you deserve. Unfortunately, many don't know what to ask for or how to ask for it, and a financial empowerment program can fill those gaps.
Related: Gen Z believes this benefit is more important than salary
Reduced financial burden
An editor of Employee Benefit News writes: “BIPOC employees are more of a financial burden, according to the latest American Staffing Association survey of financial burdens. 65% of Hispanics and 58% of blacks are concerned about paying their rent or mortgage. Of those who identify as white, 44% said they were concerned. "
A financial empowerment program can address this stress by providing strategies, exercises, and resources that not only develop financial literacy, but also introduce the tools needed to deal with the fears, anxieties, and trauma associated with money management. Race and ethnicity are not the only factors to consider when developing a diverse and inclusive strategy for financial empowerment.
Personal finances are personal, which means that each employee may struggle with a special circumstance that is different from the next. Caring for elderly or disabled relatives, single parents, the sole source of income for a family, medical expenses, consumer and student debts, and much more can affect the way employees see, handle, or feel about money.
A financial empowerment program can provide the tools necessary to assess the unique situations of employees and help them reach conclusions about how to deal effectively with those situations. A less financially stressed employee will be a more engaged employee, which in turn increases productivity.
Related: 8 Books to Help You Find Financial Bliss
Increased employee loyalty
A financially educated employee is likely to participate in employee stock purchase programs (ESPP) and contribute more to HSAs (health savings accounts) and retirement programs such as the 401 (k) because they are aware of the long-term potential for wealth creation. It is exciting to see how the investment balances grow or possibly match with the compounding and the additional employer contribution. Financially trained employees may even opt for an incentive payout in company shares, saving the company cost and tax benefits – a win-win situation for employers and employees alike.
Creating a financial empowerment program doesn't have to be difficult. There are many financial advisors available to provide guidance and structure in creating the program. A certified financial literacy instructor can also run workshops and seminars in conjunction with resource groups for employees, learning and development teams, or summit meetings and retreats for employees to get you started.