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Equity in Money

Equity in Money™ Is About Increasing Financial Security
for Everyone

Every day at Summit, we help women, and ALL our members, build wealth and make good financial decisions. We focus on the financial well-being of women because they face unique challenges on their path to financial security – such as living longer, saving less and earning less over their lifetimes.

  • The lower average lifetime earnings for women roughly translates to $500,000 in lost income over the course of a 40-year career.1 That’s as much as $1.6 million less in retirement savings,2 with an even bigger impact for women of color.
  • The median 401k account balance for women is 65% lower than the balance for men.3
  • Women are 43% more likely to retire in poverty,4 and have zero dollars saved for retirement.5

That’s why it’s our purpose to help women and their families avoid poverty in retirement. Equity in Money is about increasing financial security for everyone – and closing the retirement savings gap for women. It’s also about making the world better, together.

5 Ways We're Helping Women Close the Retirement Savings Gap

  1. Increasing women’s confidence in money to inspire action, by empowering them with information and support
  2. Building women’s wealth by helping them own homes and businesses
  3. Helping women create financial plans that balance paying down debt and saving
  4. Supporting women in increasing lifetime earning power
  5. Openly sharing our pay practices and data
 

1. Increasing Confidence in Money 

Overall, men and women take different approaches when it comes to their financial lives. Women tend to focus more on day-to-day financial management and budgets, while men focus more on growing their money and are more likely to hold stocks and keep less of their money in cash.6 Women also say they’re less confident in making longer-term financial decisions. This can lead them to take actions that work against their long-term goals – or to not take any action at all.7

 

Summit's Making a Difference:

We empower members with financial information that gives them more confidence in their actions and decisions, including:

Mom and daughter cooking

2. Building Women's Wealth: Homeownership

Owning a home is one of the most important ways to build long-term wealth. Women have different needs and challenges than men when preparing for homeownership, as supported by these stats:
  • 80% of single-parent households are maintained by women.8
  • Women buying a first home typically do it with $13,000 less in annual household income than single men,9 and make more financial and life sacrifices to make it happen.
Summit's Making a Difference:

As Wisconsin’s #1 Mortgage Lender*, we help thousands of people every year choose the right mortgage for their financial goals. We’re giving them peace of mind they’ve made the best decision for their long-term success through:

  • Free education sessions and videos on the homebuying process, including how to save for a down payment and be ready for one of the most important financial steps anyone will take.
  • One-on-one coaching to create individual plans and support, including how to prioritize saving for both the unexpected and for the long-term.  
 
Woman on ipad

Building Women's Wealth: Starting and Growing Businesses

More women are starting small businesses than ever – in fact, they’ve started about half of the country’s new small businesses since the pandemic (compared to 30% before).10

And while most new business owners get their main funding from personal savings, loans and private investments are important secondary sources. Women are generally less likely than men to borrow money to start and grow small businesses, instead tapping into retirement and other personal savings.

Summit's Making a Difference:

As the #1 SBA Lender Among Credit Unions in Wisconsin** for 12 years running, our expertise helps women small-business owners get started as well as plan for their future success. We go beyond offering easy, affordable funding to further empower our business communities through: 

Couple sitting on couch with dog in lap

3. Balancing Paying Down Debt and Saving for the Future

The goal of paying down debt can compete with the goal of saving for retirement. This is especially true for women, who carry more debt than men in most types of loans – plus more medical debt11 and two-thirds of the $1.7 trillion in student loan debt.12

Summit's Making a Difference:

It IS possible to pay down debt and save for the future at the same time. We help members do it every day through our financial educator approach that includes:

  • One-on-one financial reviews to help members find opportunities to restructure and refinance debt, freeing up money for future savings.
  • Our long-running annual Project Money program, which pairs 4 teams with a financial coach to create plans that help them pay down debt and increase savings.
    • Participants have increased their savings by $570,000 and decreased their debt by $560,000 since the program started 15 years ago.
    • Their stories and insights are covered in weekly blogs, so the community can follow along and learn from their progress.
  • Blogs, calculators, worksheets, podcasts and more free resources for paying down debt and building savings.
Retired couple sitting at table

4. Increasing Women's Earning Power

On average, women earn less over their lifetimes and a lot of factors go into that – but one of the biggest is fewer women in higher-paying fields and roles. Only 7% of Fortune 1000 companies have a female CEO,13 and women make up just 27% of workers in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).14

Summit's Making a Difference:

We’re helping empower women to take action to increase their earnings through:

  • Free education on salary negotiation and knowing your worth, including how to factor in a stay-at-home parent’s financial contributions. This is especially important for women, who are:
    • More likely than men to leave the workforce or reduce their hours to take on caregiving responsibilities for children or parents.
    • Less likely than men to be able to re-enter the workforce at salary levels comparable to when they left.
    • Less likely than men to negotiate a starting salary.
  • Summit’s Women Build Equity Scholarship program, in partnership with the Madison College Foundation, to help women:
    • Equip themselves for careers in higher-paying STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields and increase their lifetime earnings.
    • Gain insights to further empower their financial wellness and security, through free access to our self-directed financial education and the guidance of a Summit Financial Coach.

5. Summit's Pay Practices

When more women fill leadership roles, it doesn’t just benefit women and their lifetime earning power. Research shows that healthy companies with a variety of perspectives, experiences and leadership styles perform better than those with less well-rounded leadership teams.

Unfortunately, women in financial services firms make up just 24% of leadership roles and 9% of senior leadership and C-Suite (or "Chief" titled) roles, according to a Within Reach study by Deloitte. 

We can do better with women representation in leadership, and we do better at Summit.

Percentage of Women Employees

Hourly Employees

Hourly Employees

Salaried Employees

Salaried Employees

Executive Employees

Executive Employees

We also have policies in place at Summit to ensure compensation’s fair for everyone.

Women are less likely to negotiate starting salary, which can affect lifetime earning potential. Even a small difference in earnings at the start of a career really adds up over time – just think of the raises, bonuses and retirement plan contributions that are tied to a salary percentage.

This is one of the reasons we have an established Pay Practices Policy that includes things like:

  • Not negotiating starting salary. Again, women are statistically less likely to negotiate, so this policy means they won’t be put at a disadvantage. (If a market shift demands negotiation, we also review other employees with the same role, experience and performance to ensure fairness.)
  • Not asking candidates for pay history. This common practice can unintentionally continue pay differences that aren’t based on education, experience, qualifications or performance.
  • Considering candidates’ prior experience. We factor in work experience leading up to any candidate’s time away from the workforce to care for family members.
  • Annual assessments to ensure women's performance increases align with men's on a large scale.
  • Annual reviews of compensation within each of Summit's pay levels, ensuring fair pay for similar work. This review includes an assessment of “compa-ratios,” which measure an employee’s pay based on how close it is to the midpoint of the position’s salary range. There are variations in pay due to time in the role, experience, education and overall performance.

Compa-Ratios at Summit

Summit Overall

Summit Overall

Hourly Employees

Salaried Employees

Salaried Employees

From Our Big Picture to the Bigger One. 

Just look at the bigger impact if women increased their lifetime earning power to be comparable to men’s.15

EIM Journey

Want to bank where you're part of creating greater financial security and a better life for all?