Investing in the future of women in the legal profession

SUMMARY

By taking steps to address the challenges faced by women in your workplace, you can help support the financial wellness of your female leaders and improve your firm’s appeal to new and existing talent.


Successful law firms are those that support their high-performing staff to do their best work while ensuring that their emotional and financial needs are met. This is especially true when it comes to supporting financial wellbeing for women in the workplace. Women not only contribute to more effective and productive businesses, but also face distinct challenges compared to men when achieving their financial goals. 

The unique challenges faced by women

Women often have different career paths than men, and are more likely to face employment interruptions, which can further reduce their lifetime earnings potential. They can face challenges when returning to previous employers and when reentering the workforce at periods of economic downturn, and can struggle to regain seniority following career breaks.  There is also the gender wage gap to consider, with women on average earning 84 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts.1 At the c-suite level, the situation is even worse; with women earning around 75 cents compared to male executives.2

Research by Lean In has shown that women are held back by the so called “broken rung” whereby only 87 women are promoted for every 100 men, with that figure dropping down to 73% for women of color.3 Lean In notes that “now, women leaders are leaving their companies at higher rates than ever before. To put the scale of the problem in perspective: for every woman at the director level who gets promoted, two women directors are choosing to leave their company.” The implications of this research are undeniable: if your firm does not take action to recruit and retain the next generation of women leaders, you will lose out on essential talent.

The 4 pillars of financial stress

In order to improve financial wellbeing you need to understand the factors that can impede it. There are four pillars of financial stress: saving, spending, investing, and borrowing. By addressing these stressors, women leaders will be able to gain an improved sense of security and confidence in their financial situation. If you take the time to understand the demands and stresses of your female employees, support them on their career paths, and help them meet their unique financial needs, you will make them feel valued and supported. This will make it more likely that they will stay with your company for the long term.

Fortunately, there are practical steps you can take to support women in your firm. By providing educational resources on the fundamentals – such as budgeting for everyday expenses, enhancing savings, and managing an investment portfolio – you will be improving your workplace for everybody and become a more attractive employer in a competitive industry. 

Supporting your female lawyers

Ensuring you have a happy and high-performing firm requires supporting your people both professionally and in the management of their finances. This challenge becomes more acute when looking at the question of retirement planning. This can be hindered by the additional demands women also face compared to men: such as balancing work and life while managing family finances with little available free time.

Women also tend to live longer than men, which means they require more retirement savings in general. However, worryingly, when attempting to estimate the amount of savings they will need for their golden years, women tend to underestimate the amount they need by 40% compared to men.4

What’s more, 20% of women approaching retirement age admit to not having a retirement plan5, with the 401(k) balances of women typically 30% lower than those of men. Women also contribute 22% less to their retirement funds than men.6 Your company can support your female employees by helping them put a financial plan in place and enhancing their understanding of what financial security means in retirement and how to properly assess financial risk factors.

The importance of financial wellness for women lawyers

Businesses are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of supporting the wealth journeys of their people, but how important is financial wellness to employees? It perhaps won’t surprise you to hear that the answer is “very”. In its 2023 workplace report, Lean In revealed that, “women leaders are significantly more likely than men leaders to leave their jobs because they want more flexibility or because they want to work for a company that is more committed to employee wellbeing and diversity, equity, and inclusion.”7 The report also pointed out that these factors have only grown in importance in recent years.

As well as facilitating positive attitudes to workplaces, financial wellbeing is intimately connected to mental health. If women’s financial and emotional needs are not met, mental health can be negatively affected. This can impact job performance and productivity, reduce employee engagement with work, and even hinder communication between employees, according to research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).8

By supporting the financial wellbeing of women in the workplace, you can have a positive impact on the health and wellness of your key talent, which can support professional success and empower your female leaders to serve your clients and build their careers.

Learn more about how Citi Global Wealth at Work can shape the future of financial wellness at your firm. Contact us today.

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