Seven months into the COVID-19 pandemic, caregivers, particularly women, continue to be disproportionately impacted by the increasing challenges of juggling work and family demands. Recent labor statistics show that nearly 80% of the 1.1 million workers who dropped out of the workforce in September were women, and that number may continue to grow. A new study by Fidelity Investments® finds that nearly 4-in-10 working women (39%) are actively considering leaving the workforce or reducing their hours due to increased remote schooling and caregiving responsibilities.
“As more women and caregivers nationwide find themselves contemplating stepping away from their career or reducing hours at work, Fidelity is here to support them,” said Kathleen Murphy, president of personal investing at Fidelity Investments. “From providing financial planning support in the workplace, to working with women one-on-one to evaluate options to keep savings goals on track, to helping Fidelity’s own associates navigate these work and family challenges, we’re here to help.”
Fidelity sees an Increase in Financial Engagement Among Women
More than two-thirds of women (67%) say they are more engaged in managing their money since the onset of the pandemic. Where women were already building good planning and savings habits, many say they have amplified those efforts in the last six months to help shore up finances for the future. In fact, in Q2 alone Fidelity saw a 24% increase in planning consultations over the same period last year, including consistent outreach by women. To stay ahead of this unprecedented engagement, Fidelity recently announced plans to hire an additional 4,000 new client-facing associates.
Fidelity Teams Up with Employers to Make Support More Accessible
To build on this momentum, Fidelity is collaborating with thousands of companies across the country to roll out Women Talk Money, a new program to help more women get financially engaged and connect with the guidance they need to address these pressing work and life decisions.
“Women and caregivers are being challenged like never before and are looking to become more informed and better prepared as they make financial choices for today and the future,” said Lorna Kapusta, head of women investors at Fidelity. “Women Talk Money delves into why women need to think differently about financial planning, how life choices may affect the growth of savings and future financial security, and how to create a financial road map to help reach individual goals and accommodate expected and unexpected detours along the way.”
The program’s flagship six-part video series provides an overview of the key factors that affect women differently and can have a significant impact on their financial futures. Each 10-minute segment is reinforced with a ‘What You Need to Know’ Resource Guide with key takeaways and actionable next steps to apply to personal planning.
Fidelity also hosts weekly Women Talk Money Q&A Conversations, offering an interactive forum to answer women’s most pressing questions. Live every Wednesday at noon ET, these 30-minute Zoom discussions feature a different topic each week based on thousands of viewer-submitted questions, with a focus on providing practical education free of jargon or judgment. Recent topics include job loss and changes in household income, planning for health care, investing during uncertain times, and the hidden costs of caregiving.
New Fidelity Caregiver Benefits Resulting in Low Attrition and High Sentiment
This year, Fidelity has evolved its employee support to respond to the changing needs of its associates, including innovating new benefits to help the company’s caregivers juggle new work and family challenges. In the spring, Fidelity offered more time to deal with unexpected life events and gave access to expert care coordinators and health care providers. This fall, Fidelity launched benefits for working parents, including a childcare reimbursement and enhanced access to child-care coordinators who help secure care and educational resources, such as a nanny or tutor. The company is also piloting flexible work options for associates in roles that traditionally haven’t had as much flexibility, like customer service phone representatives. Associates in certain roles can opt-in for reduced hours through the Fall, while still maintaining their benefits and retirement packages.
“One-third of our associates have children under the age of 13, so it’s critical that our support includes resources to help our people make the best decisions for their families as they enter an unprecedented school year, managing the stress of remote work and changes to caregiving and education,” said Bill Ackerman, head of Human Resources, Fidelity Investments. “Fidelity has been innovating and trying new things to help them alleviate some of that stress. Attrition rates with women remain low, and sentiment remains high. We’re focused on keeping it that way.”