When we talk about climate change, the conversation usually covers how environmental degradation affects everyone. And, while it is true that climate change does impact the entire globe, it is also important to recognize that the effects of climate change are not equally distributed across the world.
The United States history of systemic racism and reliance on fossil fuels makes environmental racism especially prominent.
Environmental racism is a concept that identifies how people of color are disproportionately impacted by pollution and environmental degradation.
In the United States, a country founded on the exploitation of Indigenous Americans and Black people, environmental racism is especially prevalent.
According to a recent report by the Dig Deep and the U.S. Water Alliance, “race is still the strongest determinant” to access to safe potable water. And, multiple studies have shown that air quality is better in predominately white neighborhoods than in predominately Latinx and Black neighborhoods.
This is not accidental. Neighborhoods of color have been systemically stripped of resources and divested from for decades.
Fighting for Environmental Justice
By learning the systemic injustices against neighborhoods of color, we can better understand the fight for environmental justice. Environmental justice is a social movement pushing for restorative actions in environmental legislation.
The environmental justice movement recognizes the role of racism and classism in the climate change crisis. To create a more equitable environment, we need to amplify the voices of climate activists in historically and presently polluted areas, redistribute environmental resources into highly polluted communities, and champion for environmentally conscious changes to our system.
What is Equal Pay Day?
Equal Pay Day is a symbolic date to draw awareness to gender-based wage discrimination. Equal Pay Day marks the day that the average woman in the United States working full time and year-round would need to work to in order to make the same as the average man. In other words, because Equal Pay Day lands on March 24th this year, it takes women nearly 15 months to make the same amount as men do in 12 months.
Here are the Equal Pay Days in 2021:
- March 9: Asian American and Pacific Islander Women’s Equal Day
Asian American and Pacific Islander women are paid 85 cents for every dollar paid to white men.
- March 24: All Women’s Equal Pay Day
Women working full time and year-round are paid 82 cents for every dollar paid to a man who works full time and year-round.
- June 4: Mother’s Equal Pay Day
Mothers are paid 70 cents for every dollar paid to fathers.
- August 3: Black Women’s Equal Pay Day
Black women are paid 63 cents for every dollar paid to white men.
- September 8 Native American Women’s Equal Pay Day
Native women are paid 60 cents for every dollar paid to white men.
- October 21: Latinas’ Equal Pay Day
Latinas are paid 55 cents for every dollar paid to white men.
Devaluing Female Labor
Women are severely overrepresented in low-paying jobs. Women make up just under half of the workforce. But, account for over 70% of low-wage workers. The need for Equal Pay Day comes from a long history of devaluing female labor.
Take the example from a 2016 PBS column. In 2016, the average hourly wage for a teaching assistant, which generally requires a bachelor’s or master’s degree, was $11.43. Now, that number is closer to $12/hour. While a service station attendant, generally with no higher education, could make $11.62 an hour. Now, it’s just over $12/hr. Nearly 90% of all teaching assistants are women and over 90% of all service station attendants are men.
And, even within the same occupation, women’s work is devalued. The Washington Post found that international relations articles written by women received fewer citations than those written by men. Study after study shows that there is a bias against women in the workplace.
All the obstacles in the way of female professionals have created occupational segregation.
A major argument against the pay gap is that women tend to work in lower-paying jobs. And, while this is true, it is not an excuse to dismiss the call for equal pay. Rather, it is an outgrowth of devaluing female labor and occupation segregation.
Occupational segregation is the result of gender stereotypes, assumptions, and discrimination and is a critical component to understanding the pay gap. For centuries, women have been excluded from certain professions.
Women weren’t legally allowed to practice law until 1919. The first female doctors disguised themselves as men to be allowed into medical classes. And, today, through the persistence of social norms and bias, many occupations are segregated on the basis of gender.
The highest paying jobs in the United States (engineers, dentists, lawyers, CEOs) are all comprised of over 50% men, with some careers closer to a 90% male workforce. This reality cannot be separated from the reality of the pay gap.
Fighting for Equal Pay
Making changes to the current system starts with us. Here’s what we can do:
Do you know when your state primaries are? Or who’s on the ballot? Next voting season, take some time to look into your options, especially in local races.
- Learn how to negotiate your salary (and share tips with your friends)
- Promote pay transparency in the workplace
When you don’t know what your coworkers are making, it’s difficult to determine if you’re being paid unfairly and even more difficult to do something about it. Try to start some conversations about money with your friends and family.
- Fight for an increased minimum wage
The majority of low-wage workers are women. Fighting to increase the minimum wage benefits the economy and works to close the pay gap.
- Fight to end the tipped minimum wage
The tipped minimum wage is an outdated system that traced back to the end of slavery. It’s time we get rid of it and commit to workers’ rights.
- Invest in occupational diversity
And, don’t let your retirement account work against you! Align your investments with your values.
Together, we can build a better world for all of us.
2021 just started and it has already been an important year for women. Kamala Harris was inaugurated as the first female Vice President of the United States. Whitney Wolfe, the founder and CEO of Bumble, became the youngest woman to take a company public. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is the first woman and first African to hold the position of Director-General of the World Trade Organization. And, more women are making history every day.
This year, the theme for International Women’s Day is #ChooseToChallenge. In the words of the IWD Committee, “A challenged world is an alert world.” That’s why we’re choosing to challenge gender bias and inequality in finance.
Stereotypes about women and money exist in all corners of pop culture. As Kathy Pierre from Relevant Magazine puts it, “[These stereotypes are] so pervasive that as a society, we’ve come to think those depictions are art imitating life, but that’s not the case.”
Women are bad with money? Nope. Women earn better investment returns than men.
Women interested in finance are cruel or heartless? Wrong again. Women are more likely to pursue socially responsible investing.
While the stereotypes are quickly disproved, the repercussions of these ideas don’t disappear so easily.
Stigmas and stereotypes have historically worked in collaboration with legislation blocking women from financial advancement. Women are less likely to invest than men and more likely to believe it’s not their responsibility to manage household finances.
We must continue to confront these stereotypes until all people feel that they have a voice in their financial well-being.
Challenging Bias Every Day
At Invested Interests, we believe in living your values every day. Whether you’re buying a gift for a friend or treating yourself to a coffee on the way to work, there is always an opportunity to support the causes you’re passionate about.
Ready to align your investments with your values? Reach out to our team!
You can still support progressive values by investing conservatively. Conservative investing is a low-risk investment strategy that prioritizes the preservation of capital.
Conservative Investing Strategies
Choosing a conservative investment strategy focuses on longevity. Conservative investors are not investing for quick gains with lots of risks. Instead, they are creating a diverse portfolio that can weather the up and downs of the market.
Conservative investments include
- Stock in strong, established companies
- Mutual or Index Funds
- Investing across multiple sectors of the economy
But, even conservative investments include some risk. Remember Circuit City? Once number two in electronics stores, it’s now bankrupt.
In other words, conservative investing is more than buying some stock in a well-established company. It’s creating a safe investment strategy that puts your financial wellbeing first.
Focusing on Your Financial Goals
Conservative investing pushes you towards your long-term financial goals. In a volatile market, it’s easy to lose sight of your future financial success and only see the short-term repercussions. When stocks explode, it can be difficult to shake the FOMO of not investing more. Or, when the market crashes, it’s tempting to pull all your investments.
Whenever you’re tempted to compare your investment journey to someone else’s, try to focus on your financial goals. Why are you investing?
Everyone’s investing journey looks different. If you’re a conservative investor, maybe you’re investing for your retirement or your kids’ education. If you’re an impact investor, maybe you’re investing to support your key values.
Centering your financial goals can help you stay focused and motivated as a conservative investor.
Investing in Progressive Values
At Invested Interests, we believe that investing in your values is as important to your financial health as managing your risk and understanding your financial goals. We have to invest in the world we want to see.
Investments that support sustainability, peace, and human rights have both a financial and social return. We can use our investments to vote with our wallet for the future we want to see.
Ready to start your investing journey? Reach out to our team today!
Investing is possible at any age! But, it can look a little different depending on your life circumstances. That’s why Brandon, Tatiane, and I have teamed up to talk about the challenges we’ve faced as investors in our 20s, 30s, and 40s.
Investing in your 20s
By Sophia Lackens
As a recent college grad, investing has been the last thing on my mind. Term papers, final exams, and student organizations have taken up most of my last year.
Investing can often seem like a grown-up’s task. And, I don’t feel grown up enough to be a part of it.
Plus, as a part of Gen Z and a graduate of the class of 2020, my outlook on the economy, the job market, and financial institutions isn’t that great.
In 2008, I was in 4th grade when half my class’s parents lost their jobs. In 2017, I was applying to colleges when student loan debt reached $1.3 trillion. And, in 2020, I graduated in a global pandemic.
With the current uncertainty, I’m not investing. And, I won’t be until I land a full-time job and can stop quarantining at my parent’s house. I don’t have enough financial power to justify investing money that my family might need for unexpected expenses.
Hopefully, once a vaccine is distributed and unemployment is down, I’ll be ready to start my investing journey.
Until then, I will scout out my investment options and build my understanding of personal finance. Before I start investing, I want to be as informed as possible. Working with an investment firm has helped me become more comfortable with financial terms and understand the investment process better.
When I’m in a stronger financial position, I am confident I will have the tools I need to invest with intention and impact.
Investing in your 30s
By Tatiane Amaral
Growing up in a household where money was never part of any conversation, we certainly didn’t talk about investments, and my parents never had an investment account. They mostly lived paycheck to paycheck and that was the norm to me for a long time.
Ironically enough I started working in the financial industry right after college, but because of the lack of money talk I had growing up, I had a lot of anxiety around money, and the reason I was working in the financial industry didn’t change that, at least not for a while.
Once I started thinking more about my future self, it started giving me anxiety that I didn’t have a plan just like my parents didn’t. That’s when I started having conversations with friends and colleagues about money, investments, and everything in between, and it felt liberating.
Starting to invest in my future self and having a plan, helped take the anxiety off of whether I am going or not going to have enough to retire, and all I had to do is take the first step, and I am a firm believer that your age and where you are in life should not stop you. Being in your thirties doesn’t mean you have everything figured out, I know I don’t, but it’s never too late to change the status quo.
Investing in your 40s!
By Brandon Small
My personal experience with investing may be a little unique because I’ve worked in finance my entire adult life. Believe it or not, not everyone that works in finance has their personal finances figured out! Maybe because working at a job and handling other people’s money doesn’t have the same emotional and anxiety inducing effects that the money in, or not “in,” your bank account has. Personally, I’m still a work in progress. Most of my friends, in and out of the finance profession, are a work in progress.
There is no typical 40s financial experience. I’m convinced of that. There are people in their 40s that are already retired and there are people in their 40s that haven’t given a second’s thought about retirement. There are people in their 40s paying for their children’s college education and there are people in their 40s just starting college.
But I will say, everyone in their 40s can benefit from reviewing their current investments, thinking about how those investments align with their life plans and how their investments reflect their social/moral priorities. Thinking of your finances as a “practice” as opposed to a goal will make it easier to get started and make small, incremental, and positive changes. One recommendation we almost universally make to new investors, regardless of their age, is to simply commit to a monthly investment amount that is drawn, and this part is critical, drawn automatically, from their bank account into their new investment account. Once you think of making periodic investments as “paying yourself” first, you’ll be amazed at 1) how easy it is and how you still have enough for living and entertainment and 2) how quickly the invested amount will grow. This is a simple step. It requires nothing more than committing to a start. And your 20 year older self will definitely thank you!
And “practicing” at your financial health is something you should invite others to participate in by broadening your circle to include family, friends, co-workers, and reputable online resources (trust us, stick with the big-name and well-known sources – there are no secrets out there, just facts and advice that has not changed in years).
I imagine my 50s will be a lot like my 40s. There will be stocks I wished I’d invested in. There will be investment mistakes that I regret. But the simple advice of always committing to improve and practice will not change. I’ll never get it right, but I expect to get it better!
Investing Looks Different For Everyone
No matter how old you are or what your life looks like, investing is always an option to plan for your financial future. Every generation and age comes with different challenges and opportunities. There is no one size fits all approach to investing. So, if you’re ready to start talking about what investing could look like for you, reach out to our team. We’ll help you navigate the financial challenge and seize the opportunities.
Racism has poisoned our economy. Black Americans face higher poverty and unemployment rates. The wealth gap in our country is widening. What can American Institutions, such as the Federal Reserve, do to fight against inequality?
What is the Federal Reserve?
The Federal Reserve System, or the Fed, was created in 1913. The tumultuous economy of the early 20th century necessitated the creation of a central institution to control the American monetary system.
Today, the Fed serves as the United States’ central banking system. It focuses on keeping prices stable and maximizing employment to foster a healthy, stable economy for all Americans.
However, the Federal Reserve has not always served all Americans. As recently as 2008, the Federal Reserve has been accused of inaction that has disproportionately harmed people of color.
Moreover, financial institutions are not exempt from our country’s history of slavery. Angela Glover Blackwell, founder of PolicyLink, says “In racism, banks have been complicit; they were underwriters of slavery. Plantation owners borrowed from banks; banks repossessed slaves when plantation owners defaulted.”
Ursula Burns, the first Black woman to lead a Fortune 500 company, has critiqued the Fed’s tendency to pawn off blame on other institutions rather than stand up as part of the solution.
Burns said at an event sponsored by the Fed, “The Federal Reserve as the economic policy instrument in this country, absolutely has to know, be passionate about, be interested in not just the wealthiest or the median, but all of the people.”
It is with this history in mind and a focus on the diversity of Americans that the Fed is pushing forward. Just last year, the Federal Reserve launched an event series titled Racism and the Economy. Hosted by all twelve district banks of the Federal Reserve System, the event series aims to discuss the roles of the Federal Reserve in the fight to end inequality.
Action in the Era of COVID
The series hosted by the Federal Reserve has been the first step forward. Across the many events, Fed officials and keynote speakers discussed opportunities for improvement at the Fed.
Now, in the time of the COVID-19 crisis, is the time to act.
Keynote speaker, Angela Glover Blackwell, said, “What COVID has done is to force Americans to look at inequality in wealth and especially in health. Americans are seeing the interconnectedness of what happens in Black, Latinx & indigenous communities and the health and well-being of America.”
The pandemic has made inequalities, especially in our healthcare system and economy, almost impossible to ignore.
For Blackwell, now is the time for big changes. She proposes federalized credit scores and bank accounts. “I want you to know,” she says, “that never before have we had a nation that is so ready.”