Real Money, Real Experts

Where Race & Gender Intersect: Why the Wealth Gap is Widening and How to Help

September 15, 2020 AFCPE® Season 1 Episode 9
Real Money, Real Experts
Where Race & Gender Intersect: Why the Wealth Gap is Widening and How to Help
Chapters
Real Money, Real Experts
Where Race & Gender Intersect: Why the Wealth Gap is Widening and How to Help
Sep 15, 2020 Season 1 Episode 9
AFCPE®

This week, Real Money, Real Experts welcomes two special guests to talk about two very important, and intersecting concepts. Dedrick Asante-Muhammad and Heather McCulloch join us to talk about racial and gender wealth gaps: what they are, why they exist, how they intersect, and what financial coaches and counselors can do to help their clients overcome them. 

Dedrick is the Chief of Race, Wealth, and Community at the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, and Heather is the Founder and Executive Director of Closing the Women's Wealth Gap.

Co-hosts Rebecca Wiggins and Dr. Mary Bell Carlson talk to Dedrick and Heather about their careers, and how they've come to be experts on racial and gender wealth gaps.

*Show Notes*
03:08 About Heather
05:36 About Dedrick
07:49 The Gender Wealth Gap
12:05 The Racial Wealth Gap
14:10 COVID's Impact on Race
19:19 COVID's Impact on Gender
22:31 Moving Women Forward
25:02 Moving Racial Minorities Forward
26:50 Balancing Private and Public Assets
27:33 How Financial Professionals Can Help
33:14 Your Two Cents

CNN piece with Jennifer Siebel Newsom

https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/06/perspectives/women-economic-policies-coronavirus/index.html


Slate with Kilolo Kijakazi

https://slate.com/human-interest/2018/05/gender-inequality-closing-the-wealth-gap-is-critical-to-future-financial-security.html


- Report by CWWG Deputy Director, Dominique Derbigny.

- Report by Jocelyn Frye, Sr. Fellow at the Center for American Progress

- Spotlight on Poverty commentary by the Dominique and Jocelyn 

- Article on the Color and Gender of COVID by Professor Catherine Powell of Fordham 


CWWG paper by Dominique Derbigny:

https://womenswealthgap.org/report/


CWWG Framing Paper:


Show Notes Transcript

This week, Real Money, Real Experts welcomes two special guests to talk about two very important, and intersecting concepts. Dedrick Asante-Muhammad and Heather McCulloch join us to talk about racial and gender wealth gaps: what they are, why they exist, how they intersect, and what financial coaches and counselors can do to help their clients overcome them. 

Dedrick is the Chief of Race, Wealth, and Community at the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, and Heather is the Founder and Executive Director of Closing the Women's Wealth Gap.

Co-hosts Rebecca Wiggins and Dr. Mary Bell Carlson talk to Dedrick and Heather about their careers, and how they've come to be experts on racial and gender wealth gaps.

*Show Notes*
03:08 About Heather
05:36 About Dedrick
07:49 The Gender Wealth Gap
12:05 The Racial Wealth Gap
14:10 COVID's Impact on Race
19:19 COVID's Impact on Gender
22:31 Moving Women Forward
25:02 Moving Racial Minorities Forward
26:50 Balancing Private and Public Assets
27:33 How Financial Professionals Can Help
33:14 Your Two Cents

CNN piece with Jennifer Siebel Newsom

https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/06/perspectives/women-economic-policies-coronavirus/index.html


Slate with Kilolo Kijakazi

https://slate.com/human-interest/2018/05/gender-inequality-closing-the-wealth-gap-is-critical-to-future-financial-security.html


- Report by CWWG Deputy Director, Dominique Derbigny.

- Report by Jocelyn Frye, Sr. Fellow at the Center for American Progress

- Spotlight on Poverty commentary by the Dominique and Jocelyn 

- Article on the Color and Gender of COVID by Professor Catherine Powell of Fordham 


CWWG paper by Dominique Derbigny:

https://womenswealthgap.org/report/


CWWG Framing Paper:


Intro:

Welcome to real money, real experts, a podcast where leading financial counseling and coaching experts share their stories, their challenges, and their advice for helping people manage money in the real world. I'm your host, Rebecca Wiggins, executive director of the association for financial counseling and planning education or AFC PE®. And I'm your cohost, Dr. Mary Bell Carlson. I'm an accredited financial counselor defeat and the CEO of chief financial mom . Every episode, we're taking a deep dive into the topic , fix the personal finance professionals care about helping clients, building community and your professional growth.

Rebecca Wiggins:

Welcome everyone to the real money, real experts podcast. I'm Rebecca and I'm Mary. Today on the show, we're actually talking with two national experts. Dedrick Asante-Muhammad and Heather McCulloch. Dedrick is the Chief of Race, Wealth and Community at the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, or NCRC where he oversees their fair housing, fair lending and small business programs. He is known for his racial economic inequality analysis, particularly as it relates to the racial wealth divide. He comes from Prosperity Now where he was Senior Fellow and Founder of the Racial Wealth Divide Initiative. And before that, he worked for the NAACP where he was the Senior Director of the Economic Department and Executive Director of the Financial Freedom Center. Dedrick has also worked for Reverend Al Sharpton's National Action Network, and for the Institute for Policy Studies. Heather is the Founder and Executive Director of Closing the Women's Wealth Gap an national multiracial and ethnic multi-sector network of leaders working together to close the intersecting gender and racial wealth gaps. For the past two decades, she's worked as a speaker educator, convener, writer, and advocate for policies and strategies to close the wealth gap in America. In 2000 as a Senior Associate at Policy Link, she authored the national publication, "Sharing the Wealth," which explored ways residents could build wealth by gaining an ownership stake in their communities. In 2002, she founded Asset Building Strategies, a national consulting firm focused on developing policies and strategies that help close the racial and gender wealth gaps by building financial assets for families with limited or no wealth. In 2016, Heather was a visiting professor at UC Berkeley's College of Environmental Design, where she co-led a graduate level course on tackling regional inequality. She has written about inequality for publications like the Los Angeles Times, CNN Business, New York Times, Slate, San Diego Union Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity, and other state and local publications. So we are thrilled to have you both on the podcast today.

Mary Bell Carlson:

Yes. Welcome to the podcast. You both have such an impressive resume and are well-respected leaders in the field. Let's start with a brief look back at how you got into this work. Heather, would you mind starting?

Heather McCulloch:

Yes. Great. Well, Rebecca, you covered so much of it, but let me start by saying, I am so excited to be here today. And not only because AFCPE has been a long partner in this work since the beginning, but also because Dedrick and I go way back in our work on tax equity , and we've written together. So it's really an honor to be on the call with him as well. So just to give you a little bit of my background, I got into this work about 20 years ago. And as you said, Rebecca was, I had come out of work, helping residents to gain an ownership stake in their community. And then we felt when I started with the national nonprofit Policy Link, it was right at the beginning of one of the early waves of gentrification. So this issue of how you own in your community became so important because if you don't, residents of color, low-income residents were the first to be displaced. So back then I came across the, this was again, 20 years ago, everybody was focusing on addressing poverty, but I came across data on the wealth gap, and I was, I was just flabbergasted about how radical it was and the fact that no one was talking about it. So I decided to focus on it as a consultant, and then as you said, Rebecca worked with funders, state national organizations, coalitions to really look at strategies to help low-income families build wealth. And, you know, really was at the sort of the early days in , it became a big part of the growing asset building movement. I was working on the racial wealth gap as a consultant with Policy Lincoln, The Ford foundation, when I started also seeing data on the gender wealth gap. And one of the most important resources was this book by a friend of both mine and Dedrick's, Dr. Mariko Chang, who was a Harvard sociologist at the time. Anyway. So she wrote a book about why women have less wealth and what can be done about it. And that sort of led me on this journey to really figure out who's working on the women's wealth gap, how does it intersect with race and gender? So just really quickly, we now have about 550 leaders in our coalition. It started very informally and grew pretty rapidly, but they're coming from philanthropy, from advocacy groups, organizers, banks to federal reserve. It's really very cross-sectoral. So, yeah, I'm really excited to be here to talk about it today.

Mary Bell Carlson:

We're so glad to have you, thank you. Dedrick, tell us about your background and how you got started in this work.

Dedrick Asante-Muhammad:

Yeah, I'll try to go back even farther than Heather and where I first got interested in this work. I'll go back until about, I was 13, which I'm getting old now, so that's like over 30 years ago and it was a book I remember that was very important to me, "Black Power" by Stokely Carmichael, AKA Kwame Ture, and Charles Hamilton. I had been up until that point, reading a lot of books by Dr. Martin Luther King. And this book really helped focus, that book focused a lot on structural or institutional racism is how they framed it. Institutional versus individual racism and focused a lot more on the economic component. And actually, I think the book I read right before "Black Power" was one of Martin Luther King's last books , "Where Do We Go From Here, Chaos or Community." That also really was kind of the focus for Dr. King's writings on , economics, structural inequality and his push an analysis around civil rights. And so those things really stuck with me about looking for institutional inequality with an economic base. I think professionally, I was able to really engage in that as was mentioned, I used to work for Reverend Al Sharpton's National Action Network, and did a lot of national organizing with him and people knew him at the time for focusing a lot on police brutality, but I was surprised at how much economic inclusion work he was doing more quietly. Then I had the opportunity to work for United for a Fair Economies , to be their first racial wealth divide coordinator, and was able to focus in that space professionally. In 2003, help develop their State of the Dream report. And really since then, no matter where I've worked racial economic inequality, particularly with the wealth focus has been my focus.

Mary Bell Carlson:

That's great. We appreciate both of you coming today because this is something that we have wanted and needed to talk about even more in our field, as we have seen continuing disparity in both areas. Heather, you specifically focus on gender wealth gaps. Can you tell us what the data shows about this?

Heather McCulloch:

Yeah, sure. I just want to add one important thing. When I read "Black Power" about the same time as Dedrick, the only difference was I was 10 years older. [laughter]. So anyway, so we all know women earn about 80 cents on the dollar compared to men. I think the most recent data was 82 cents. So we're seeing a little progress, or we were seeing a little progress here, but that's only about 62 cents for black women and 54 cents for Latinx women. But having said that, we never talk about the fact that single women own 32 cents on the dollar compared to single men and for women of color, it's really a chasm because of the intersecting gender and racial wealth gap. So in fact, black and Latinx women own just pennies on the dollar compared to both white men and white women. And if we look at that in terms of dollars, that's only $200 at the median for black women and $100 for Latinx women. But at the same time, going into this recession, women had become the major breadwinners in their families more than everso before. This was always true for women of color, they always played a key role. But what we found just in the last couple of years is that two thirds of all black mothers and two out of five Latinx mothers were either the primary or sole breadwinner. So families are very dependent on the resources that women hold and bring into a family's budget. On top of that, two to three caregivers are women. So when they take time out of the workforce to provide care, which we all have to do at some point, they lose income. They're not saving for retirement, they're not contributing to social security. And they're also spending now personal savings to care for loved ones. So at this time when we know women are so pivotal, they're starting with a lack of wealth and then that their wealth is being stripped throughout their career.

Mary Bell Carlson:

Heather, can I ask you a follow up question on that? This also has implications for further, along in life as well. When many women outlive men, outlive their partners or their spouses. What does that mean for them later in life?

Heather McCulloch:

No , it's detrimental. Women are two times more likely to live in poverty than men. They're much more likely to rely on social security, but as we, I just was showing they're contributing less. So they end up in this position where they have fewer resources to rely on, but they need to spread those resources over more years. So yes, they end up in a very precarious financial situation.

Rebecca Wiggins:

One thing I wanted to mention too, before we continue to talk about the wealth gap, is could you just sort of give our listeners maybe a definition of the importance of wealth? I mean, I think sometimes when we have these discussions, the problem is that people think of wealth as something that's unattainable for them. And so can you kind of frame that discussion for what we're actually talking about when we are talking about the wealth gap and why it's so important for the longterm financial security?

Heather McCulloch:

Yeah. Well , when we talk about wealth, I mean, as, as financial counselors and coaches, you all know like we're really focusing on networks . So really, you know, what you own minus what you owe. And all the research has shown that wealth, having some sort of nest egg, a little bit of financial cushion is so critical to how we think, of it's really sort of a defining feature in terms of human agency. If you have some wealth, it gives you the ability to make choices about your life. It gives you the ability to navigate unexpected financial emergencies or, you know, a divorce, loss of a loved one, a sick child where you have to pay a lot out of pocket. It's just that degree of agency and security that enables people to really live with dignity and to make the choices that they need to make for themselves and their loved ones.

Mary Bell Carlson:

Yeah. That's so important. Thank you for making that distinction. So Dedrick, as Heather mentioned, the wealth gap is further exacerbated when we see how it intersects with racial inequality. So can you tell us a little bit more about the racial wealth gap and what the data is showing even when we're controlling for things like level of education?

Dedrick Asante-Muhammad:

Yeah, I mean, you know, when I got into looking at the racial wealth gap, because I found it a better indicator of the economic inequality that does exist because African Americans and Latinos make around, depending how you measure it, 60, 65 cents on every dollar that whites make in terms of income. But in terms of wealth only have 2 or 3 cents of every dollar of wealth. And I think one of the great things and kind of scary aspects of racial wealth inequality is that we haven't been on a path of that bridging. That we see in 2016, where we have some of the most recent data. We see that median wealth for Blacks, not including depreciating assets, is around $36-$3,700. For whites, it's close to $150,000. And we see that this, you know, in 1983, where they had some of the earliest data was white wealth was around a $100,00 and black wealth was around $6,000. So we don't see this divide bridging. We actually, in many cases, see it growing. And to me, that's an alarm that the country is in a very wrong direction and we must change things around. And as this current context, we're talking a lot about racial inequality. I often say the foundation of racial inequality is racial economic inequality, and the foundation of racial economic inequality is the racial wealth divide. So I see it being something that we have to deal with and deal with in a radically different way if we want to start making progress on this issue and racial inequality as a whole.

Mary Bell Carlson:

Now I know that this is more recent data, but the COVID-19 pandemic has absolutely impacted people near and far. Tell us, do you have any updated data of how people of color are being impacted by this pandemic?

Dedrick Asante-Muhammad:

You know, there's not new data on wealth per se. As I'm looking to develop a wealth estimator so we don't have to wait every three years for the Survey of Consumer Finance to produce new racially broken out data. But it is clear that Blacks and Latinos have been disproportionately impacted in many different areas. Particularly we've seen in entrepreneurship. We've seen, I think it was some report that came out recently, they estimate that 40% of black businesses have been shut down due to COVID. And I think for whites, it was around 12 or 13%, for Latinos was somewhere in between that. I forget the exact number for Latinos, but higher than whites, a little less than black. Which makes sense because, you know, entrepreneurship and wealth, go a lot together in that it takes wealth to develop a strong business. And when you don't have much wealth to invest in your business or to fall back into hard times, you're much more likely to lose that wealth. And I think one concern people are having as well, is what effect this will have on the biggest asset that most people have, on home ownership and having this radical low level of wealth, Blacks $3,600 Latinos around $6,000. Well , if this continues to go on as it looks like it's going to continue on, this COVID recession, will this lead to foreclosures and loss of a home? So, you know, Blacks and Latinos have just been seeing an increase in their homeownership rates since the great recession, getting up to 48% for Blacks and almost 51% for Latinos, from a low of around 40%. Will that, you know, start declining in the next six months or a year?

Mary Bell Carlson:

Dedrick, I work at the University of Georgia as well. And one of the things that we're hearing as students are starting to come back to class and things, is that some of them are in a predicament because of this racial wealth divide, and some of the other situations that they live in, but they're coming back to a very difficult predicament. Am I able to go back to school and continue my education, or do I actually need to stay home and financially help my family? Those are two really hard decisions. What are some other anecdotal situations that you are seeing in this community?

Dedrick Asante-Muhammad:

Well, you know, and I didn't even get into the fact that Blacks and Latinos are more likely to get COVID, are more likely once they get it to be hospitalized, are working in industries where, you know, on a positive side, well, it depends how you look at it, on a positive side are essential workers so their jobs continue. On that negative side is it puts them much more danger to getting it. but also also in other aspects of retail, if you're working, or not retail, but service, if you're working in hotels, these types of industries, which oftentimes are disproportionately black and Latino, you're also more likely to lose your job. You know, I was with my mosque out in Baltimore yesterday, they've been doing a food giveaway. They get a couple trucks filled with different types of food and deliver it out in the streets of Baltimore. And I'm amazed every time that even without a lot of publicity , as quickly as we can unpack the trucks is as quickly as the food is taken. So you know, as usual, crisises most effects those who are most economically vulnerable. So that's true for African Americans and Latinos. And one thing on your story is, you know, one question I have, is it a challenge for students, even if they go back home, are there jobs for them to go back to, right? Because so many of the jobs for young people ,you know waitressing, these other types of things, aren't happening at that capacity anymore. So I think it is a very serious economic challenge for many.

Mary Bell Carlson:

Absolutely. And it goes even into the education system as a whole, not just university education, but public school education. In fact, I even had a student last semester, reach out to me and say, "Hey, I don't have internet at my house. I cannot complete my assignments." And he was having to drive to the local library, which was closed down and actually sit in front of the library to try to get a wifi signal, to complete his assignments. Very different situations and circumstances that we just aren't aware of. It's incredible.

Dedrick Asante-Muhammad:

And that's higher education, but I mean, now it seems that, you know, kindergartners through 12th grade through college, everyone has to have a computer. Everybody has to have internet and everybody has to have a room that's quiet so they can do their work. And, you know, most people don't live in that situation where there's a room for everyone with, you know, strong internet and a computer to do work, you know, and I always wonder too, how do, if you're supposed to do virtual schooling, but you have an essential service job, how do you balance that up particularly when oftentimes daycares aren't open? So I think we're still at the beginning of this economic COVID crisis.

Mary Bell Carlson:

Now, Heather let's turn to you, how has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted women's economic security?

Heather McCulloch:

So before the crisis, December 2019 women were the majority of the private sector workforce for the first time in history. We made up 50.4% of the workforce. Of that women of color were on track to become the majority of the female workforce, but women also, we're in this situation of extreme financial insecurity. So I cited the wealth gap data. It basically means, especially for women of color, they had no financial cushion, no nest egg to really fall back on in times of crisis. So, and they were facing a lot of, not only was there this issue of, you know, because of the historical policies that drove their gender and racial wealth gaps and created this limited wealth for women to start with. They're also facing structural challenges that meant that women tended to be segregated into low-wage jobs. Many were working multiple jobs. Most of those jobs had no benefits. So they're in this situation where they didn't have access to employer-provided, you know , paid sick or family leave. So along comes the crisis. So when COVID hit, first of all, a lot of folks called it a she-session women were the vast majority of workers who lost jobs right away. You know, we all saw at restaurant industry, hospitality, retail , domestic workers, 9 out of 10 were women of color, and most of those were immigrants that were laid off, you know , immediately. Then we also through conversations in our networks have talked about this fact, you know, one of our members called it, the racial justice paradox ,where women of color are not only the most likely to be laid off, but they also make up, women make up, the majority of essential workers. So they're also the ones that had to stay on the job, as Dedrick mentioned, risking their health and the health of their family members to, you know, keep bringing in income for their families. So, because they're exposed to the virus every day, they're more likely to contract COVID, they're more likely to bring it home to elders and kids in the households and, you know, just millions of women couldn't afford not to work. And so they're having to put themselves in danger and their families in danger. And then making matters, even worse, essential workers were left out of some of the benefits coming out of the various pieces of recovery legislation. So again, they were, they didn't get the same supports as other workers. This was also true in the CARES Act for workers in companies and in sort of chain restaurants, for example, that had more than 500 workers or less than 50, they were left out of the paid sick and family leave policies. So again, they're in this situation where even though we're now deeming them and champion them as being critical players in the COVID economy, they're not necessarily working by choice. A lot of them are working cause they have to work.

:

Yeah. I cannot believe how many women are put in that difficult situation between having to put food on the table. But also like you mentioned earlier, they're also the primary caregivers in the home. And how many of them, even when sick don't have the luxury of simply being sick, how they have to continue to press forward, even when their own health is in jeopardy, as well as their family's health. What can we do to help continue to support that and maybe change some of these burdens that women carry? How do we move the needle forward?

Heather McCulloch:

You know, when we started trying to understand the women's wealth gap, we, we were talking about all women and how the gap effected all women. But it became very clear from the beginning that this is about race as much as it is about gender. So we really have shifted to center the dignity and economic security of women of color specifically because we know if we eliminate barriers and expand opportunities for them, they're the most impacted, then everyone's going to benefit from a more equitable economy. So that's really where we focus our work. So early on we, this was about three years ago when we started to form working groups and really sort of catalyze people to take action. We focused on a national paid leave policy. So I think I said this earlier, we're the only country that doesn't have it, and where we do have it, it's only really accessible to higher-wage managerial women, so only 16% of U.S. workers have access to paid leave through their employers. And of those, most of them are in managerial positions, which are much less likely to be women and especially less likely to be women of color. So one of the strategies is we prioritize paid leave. There's been a huge national network. I mean, on the upside in the recovery packages, we did see that it was the first time that we actually had Democrats and Republicans coming together around a national policy, but we're really focused on making sure that it's a policy that gives women of color full replacement of their wages so that they can afford to take paid leave when their family members are sick. And I'll talk more later about how your members can engage around that policy work. But I just wanted to answer your question about sort of what folks can do. I think that's a promising example.

Mary Bell Carlson:

Absolutely. And Dedrick, I want to follow up with you on this idea as well. What can we do policy wise to move the needle forward for communities of color?

Dedrick Asante-Muhammad:

Yeah. Let me just first pick up a little bit on something Heather had said, you know , because I do think it is important that as you're looking at gender and race, then you always have to look how they interconnect and how do you detangle them? You know, I think one challenging aspect is that we have greater economic equity in the black community than most other communities, but it's just economic equity in a bad way. Meaning like Mariko Chang's single black women, $200 median wealth, you have black men at $300, so, you know, pretty close. But the problem is they're both pretty close to zero and have very little in assets. And you see those that are in racial groups that have higher amounts of assets have the higher disparities because there's actually wealth to have disparities or even unemployment, you know, black men, black women, I think is like 16.2% unemployment verse 16.1%.

Speaker 3:

So there's an equity in the black community in terms of inequality, not complete equity, black men do make a little bit more than black women, but still have a much greater distance to even black men, to a white women's salaries and definitely white men salaries. I think policy-wise to , you know, what can we look at? I think it's important. You know, we talk about wealth and assets. And so far we've been talking about it just as your private assets, but the way that most countries deal with having an economy that allows people to have stability as a whole and allows different people to move up the economic ladder at different times , they have public assets or community assets that help balance out the lack of private assets. And so the challenge in our country is that public assets like public education or access to jobs, all of these things actually are closely aligned to private assets. So the poorer you are, the less likely you are to go to a good school, have access to good health care , have access to an environment where you can more easily come into jobs and these types of things. And so I think public policy wise, we have to look at, we have these massive disparities in private assets, and we need to make sure that our public assets aren't reinforcing that inequality, which is what we've been doing for the last 30 years and actually is helping to bridge that inequality. And I think that's a huge space for, you know , financial counselors, financial planners to not limit their focus on how do you manage your private assets, but also how can you manage and get better access to public assets that can assist you in growing your private assets as well?

Mary Bell Carlson:

Okay . That's really helpful. And just kind of an interesting perspective on something, as you said, I think we focus so much on , on personal finances and building assets at the individual level. So let's turn a little bit to sort of the crux of the conversation, for this podcast is really around, so what do we do about it? You know, we've been talking about the racial wealth divide, at least at AFCPE® for several years now. And a lot of the questions that I get afterwards is, you know, the data is staggering and oftentimes we have to start there first of all. And so I appreciate the background on the statistics and we are definitely going to put more resources to follow up and read and provide more of that background context for why we are where we are. But I'd love to focus and get both of your insights on what are some solutions or promising practices that AFCPE® professionals, you know, specifically our side of the field, that's focused on financial counseling and coaching. What can we do as it relates to ourselves as individuals in the , in the profession and then how we're relating to the work we're doing with our clients so that we are part of impacting positive change, both at that individual and systemic level.

Heather McCulloch:

So in terms of solutions, I since I'm not in the financial coaching, or I'm not a financial professional, not in the field, I turned to my go-to person whom you know, well, Rebecca Sandra Davis , and what she shared really reinforced what we believe is a network. And that is that these inequities are really driven by systems, more so than individual choices, but when it comes to financial professionals and financial organizations, what Sandra said really echoed what we believe, which is that you can be most supportive of women, of communities, by really understanding the difference between personal responsibility for your individual financial circumstances and these broader systemic issues that create and perpetuate a lack of choices that perpetuate you know, inequities in all different aspects of our lives, housing, education, et cetera , is Dedrick said. So again, what Sandra's advice was that in one-on-one work it's critical to support personal choices and also to invite clients to help them understand that this isn't just about them. It's about these systems that are impacting them because knowing that really helps to empower you to make changes. And if clients are interested in being involved in these broad discussions about broader systems, connect them to us, connect them to DJ , if they want to be involved in advocating for changing those systems, we are trying to create so many opportunities for professionals like the folks, listening to this podcast, as well as the women who are directly impacted by these systems to really lift up their voices and to let them, you know, be the voices for changing those systems. So, you know we'll do the heavy lifting in terms of the policy and private sector changes in terms of the changes to make systems more equitable, but we totally welcome any of your members to be part of our brain trust and to be, you know, just helping us to figure out what the solutions are and what women need now, especially in this context of crisis.

Dedrick Asante-Muhammad:

Yeah. Now I'll jump in on this. I mean , I think, you know, some of the heavy lifting that can be done by financial planners and counselors that have done various work with the ACPE over the years is, you know, I think we're still such a beginning phase of identifying what are promising practices, what are best practices in strengthening financial stability for households dealing with racial wealth inequality. And I think there's a lot of work to be done on that to help highlight that again. Cause I think it's, I don't expect, I don't see much coming out of the financial planning community on what can bridge the racial wealth divide, but I do see some great opportunities to strengthen the financial stability. If your client's starting off with only having $1,000 in the bank, how can that move up to $2,000 or $5,000 over time. But even just developing timelines of, you know what does it mean for a household that's in the community of deep poverty that even if their income might make them look like they should be at one place, their wealth places them at another, and what is the timeframe it would take for a household at that level to move forwardtheir credit score, or to, you know, take these things forward. And why do black households have higher income need to be more conservative in the way they deal with their limited wealth? I mean the answer is obvious because they have such limited wealth and they're obviously much more likely to have less friends and family with financial resources to support them. But to really develop financial education, and financial planning based on the experiences of Blacks, Latinos, Native Americans, and not so much on the kind of white median household, I think it'd be very helpful.

Mary Bell Carlson:

Absolutely. I appreciate both of you and how you bring these situations and concerns to our attention, because I think part of it is just being aware of what's going on and knowing the numbers and knowing the styrene differences and then figuring out what we need to do to be a change in our community, in our area and sphere of influence. So thanks to both of you for joining. We have something at the end of each interview that we'd like to get the guests' two cents, or biggest takeaways for our listeners. If you had one piece of advice to offer other financial professionals, what would it be?

Dedrick Asante-Muhammad:

My piece of advice is that as most financial planners, financial educators are educating around, you know , personal finances and helping people understand you know, the economy, where they fit in the economy. And I would just ask them to add in a racial economic analysis into that. And so people understand that, you know, this might be the median income of the country as a whole, here's median income for whites, and median income f or Blacks, here's median income in your local area, homeownership, these types of things. So people can kind of get a better sense of where they are situated to others. And then of course, obviously the next step will be how to move them forward. But I think i t'll just kind of help them understand at the front end, the challenges and the time commitment necessary to move forward, their own personal finance.

Heather McCulloch:

I would just love to see your listeners really recognize their value as translators. And by that, I mean that you all are the essential workers really on the front line of family economic security. You're seeing things every day by just listening to folks that many of us can't see, and policy makers, the media don't see. So I just really hope that you see yourselves in that role and that I know it's a lot, but just try to get involved in networks where these discussions are taking place so you can really ground and educate people about your own experience and about what you're hearing from the voices of folks that really need systems change and support .

Rebecca Wiggins:

Yeah, that's great. Thank you both so much for joining today. I have learned a lot. I always learn so much from both of you and we're going to put a lot of resources in the show notes, because of course we could talk about any one of these aspects of these discussions that we've had today for hours. It's so complex. And so, you know, there's a lot of education that needs to happen and we want to help facilitate that. And so I'd love to get other resources from both of you, and we'll include those in the show notes for our listeners. But thank you so much for being on today and for the great work that you're doing both in , in leadership that you have in the field. And we look forward to working with both of you to continue on this journey and hopefully making positive change to close the racial and gender wealth gap. Thank you so much. I'm so glad we were able to talk with both Dedrick and Heather, they are incredible leaders in this field. It was hard actually to whittle down even their bio' at the beginning of the segment, but I think it's so important to see how rich their work is and deep their commitment is to the work of closing these gaps of inequality. And I loved so much, there were a couple of things that stuck out to me, but one thing that I'm really kind of stuck on right now is this idea that Heather mentioned about our professionals, seeing themselves as the frontline workers in terms of financial security. And I just love that. I think it resonates so much with that type of passion and commitment that our professionals have, but then that call to, you know, once we see ourselves in that way, that responsibility to be part of some of these conversations that are difficult and that are complex and nuanced. And how do we, you know, engage in networks like closing the women's wealth gap. And with groups that, you know, are led by people like Dedrick, who, you know , have been having these conversations for a long time and maybe even, especially to engage when we still are uncertain or have doubts or discomfort around it. So I just, I took a lot away from the conversation. I always learned so much from them and I feel like our show notes are going to be really long, but it's just such important information and a great discussion today.

Mary Bell Carlson:

Rebecca, I just feel like I am swimming in a , not just a pool, but an entire ocean. This, they have opened up so much of a universe of issues or things that maybe are in front of us that we don't see clearly. Not just talking about the statistics and the numbers, which are staggering and appalling, what the great divide is in what we're seeing today in terms of financial security for people of color and gender, but in terms of even what do we do at home, how do we help? Like sometimes as I think about it as an individual person in an individual community in a very small space, sometimes I wonder how can I be an effect for change? And I think so many of us wonder that question. Like we want to help. We want to be a part of it. We want to help close this gap and change these numbers to where it's not $200 and $300 of net worth, but where it's let us all share equally across the board. And I think in that sometimes we get so overwhelmed by swimming in this large ocean, and yet not even knowing how to swim that we sometimes just shut down and say, 'I can't do anything.' And I don't think that's the answer as well. I think that part of it is starting to have conversations just like we had today. And that is an awesome first step, becoming more aware. And then taking that awareness and putting it into your life and into your practice and into your clients and seeing where your own racial and gender divides are. And trying to be more equitable, not just in terms of assets, but in terms of advice. And in terms of helping others. Are you really reaching out to those that are vulnerable? Are you giving your time? Are you spending it? And some absolutely can say yes to this. Others of us are saying, I want to, but I don't know that I'm there yet. And so my encouragement to I think all financial professionals and especially coaches and counselors is do something today. It can be small, but make a change and a difference today, whether that be getting a different client than you've taken on in the past, or helping someone on a pro bono basis that maybe you wouldn't have helped before. And in that effort, even those very small efforts, you are helping change that gender and racial gap.

Rebecca Wiggins:

Right. And I think you're right. I mean, especially during this time with the pandemic, it has certainly clarified, I think a lot of things for people, even if it's just focusing on putting one foot in front of the other. And so while I think it can be paralyzing to see some of the statistics and to start learning more about it, it's like, as soon as you learn one thing, there's so much more that you've uncovered and it can feel so overwhelming. But I think you're right. It's like, what is that one next step you can take and not to judge yourself on that. You know, it depends on where you are in the journey. And some people are focused on that individual learning and other people are ready to advocate for policy chang, and some people are right in the middle or beyond that even. And so I think it's not about the judgment , but as you said, taking the next step, and even if it feels small, there's ripple effects from all of this even conversations you have with loved ones, or kids, or, you know, especially during times like this work where things can feel so polarizing. So I think you're right. And that's one of the, one of the reasons why we wanted to have them on is just to continue the conversation and make sure that we're aware, but then move to action through that awareness. And I think that's, that's the key.

Mary Bell Carlson:

Absolutely. And it reminds me a lot of, one of the very early shows that we did with Dr. Michael Thomas, when he talked about finding financial empathy and having that with clients. And I think that's, this is all part of that action, right? Not just understanding it, but then implementing it and being part of the solution. And I know so many of us want to be that, so do something today to be a part of that solution.

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