Since my first day at Bank of America back in 2001, it has given me opportunities to grow. Like other companies across the country, the bank knows that investing in women helps build a diverse and inclusive workplace. But much work remains to be done nationally to close the gender wealth gap.
Over the course of a career, women may earn as much as $1 million less than their male peers. Building a business, a common path to build long-term wealth, is more difficult for women, as access to funding remains a barrier. Encouragingly, women are becoming increasingly involved in finances, with Bank of America research showing younger women investors are more likely to lead family financial decision-making than generations before.
I am thankful to work for a company that seeks to reduce income inequality and empower women at all levels of leadership. Here are four strategies we’ve found that can help close the gender wage gap and support the growth of women in the workplace.
- Listen First. Building a great workforce requires investing in your employees, and successful investment must follow good listening. Make it a priority to visit with team members; it helps create a culture of listening to challenges and gives management the knowledge that’s necessary to address them.
- Talk Benefits. Offer benefits and programs to support female employees, including flexible work arrangements to balance work and personal life, back-up child and adult care, paid maternity and paternity leave, and paid adoptive leave. Benefits like these are becoming more common and are central to retaining and recruiting top talent.
- Connect Employees. Create meaningful and impactful employee networks and support groups to enable women and other employees to connect and develop skills. For example, we have a several enterprise and line-of-business networks that help prepare people for future leadership roles, most notably Leadership, Education, Advocacy and Development for Women and our Investing in Women Leadership Council.
- Pay Fairly. Reward equal work with equal pay. At our most recent compensation review for U.S and U.K. Bank of America employees, results showed that compensation for women is on average equal to greater than 99 percent of that received by men companywide. One helpful strategy has been to restrict how we solicit compensation information from candidates during the hiring process.
Jennifer Chandler is Dallas president and a managing director of Bank of America.