Fidelity Investments creates program to support women and caregivers

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Traffic and pedestrians move outside a Fidelity Investments office in Boston, Massachusetts Monday, July 30, 2007. Photographer: JB Reed/ Bloomberg News
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Fidelity Investments is teaming up with employers across the country to roll out a new program designed to help more women get financially engaged and connect with the guidance they need to address personal finance decisions.

About 67% of women say they are more engaged in managing their money since the onset of the pandemic, according to new data from Fidelity. Many women said they were already building good planning and savings habits, but they have now amplified those efforts in the last six months to secure their future.

Recent U.S. labor statistics show that nearly 80% of the 1.1 million workers who dropped out of the workforce in September were women. Additionally, the Fidelity research found that 39% of working women are actively considering leaving the workforce or reducing their hours due to increased remote schooling and caregiving responsibilities.

“Fidelity works with thousands of employers across the country. We administer and provide guidance and help with retirement plans, healthcare, as well as other benefits,” says Lorna Kapusta, head of the women investors group at Fidelity, which runs the Women Talk Money program.

The program was born at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, when Fidelity had a number of clients — mostly women — reach out to get answers on a variety of topics relating to financial wellness, including the need to be financially sound to take on additional caregiver responsibilities.

“We launched Women Talk Money to create an environment where we can address those pressing questions in a judgment-free environment,” Kapusta says.

The program is done via Zoom with three Fidelity experts taking questions from the audience about their most immediate financial concerns. The goal is to provide guidance to people going through tough situations and offer them resources to overcome them.

There are currently 2,500 employers signed up for the program, which emphasize caregiving and those associated financial and emotional costs.

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“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,” Kapusta says.

About 20% of companies offered paid caregiver leave last year, according to data from WorldatWork, a nonprofit HR resource organization. Even before the outbreak of the pandemic, employers were increasingly recognizing that they need to provide caregiver benefits. A Northeast Business Group on Health survey of employers found that 79% of respondents said caregiving will be an increasingly important issue over the next five years.

In the spring of 2020 Fidelity expanded its benefits to help the company’s caregivers juggle new work and family challenges. Fidelity offered more time to deal with unexpected life events and gave access to expert care coordinators and health care providers. This fall, Fidelity started benefits for working parents, including a child care 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 such as customer service phone representatives, which traditionally haven’t had as much flexibility.

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“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,” Bill Ackerman, head of HR at Fidelity Investments said in a statement.

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