Closing the Gender Pay Gap With Financial Literacy

Economic policy is civil rights policy, and as comptroller Brian will bring his financial experience and his record of fighting for justice to the task at hand. On the financial front, the fight for justice is a fight against income inequality. Addressing income inequality has to include addressing the gender pay gap. In New York City, women earn just $0.89 for every $1 men make. For women of color, the gap is worse: $0.82 for Asian women, $0.66 for Black women, and $0.56 for Latina women. New York City’s economy relies on women – they make up the majority of essential workers (60%, 81% in social services and 74% in healthcare), and 75% of all frontline workers are people of color. And yet, even as they keep our city afloat, they face extraordinary burdens. We would not have made it through this pandemic without them, and we will not recover without addressing the issues that face them.

As a Senator, Brian sponsored and supported legislation to end the pay gap for public and private workers. As comptroller, Brian will address the problem directly with audits to ensure human rights standards are being met, a push for contracts for local M/WBEs, and new targets for investments in firms run by women and minorities, but there is something more fundamental that needs to be addressed as well.

Women are often not encouraged to become involved in finance in the same way that men are. A study by Stanford University showed that men were almost 15% more likely to answer questions about financial literacy correctly than women. This has serious repercussions for the financial health of independent women, families and small businesses, particularly in communities of color that are struggling to recover from COVID-19. To address income inequality, this financial literacy gap and the cultural trend that discourages women to feel confident about their own finances must be addressed.

“Brian Benjamin is a true leader who understands that economic policy is civil rights policy, and as Comptroller he will put his experience in finance and investing and his record of fighting for justice to work for the women of New York City,” said NAACP New York Chapter President Hazel Dukes. “As the son of an immigrant mother who worked tirelessly to provide for him, Brian has seen first hand the financial struggles faced by women, and especially by women of color. The fight to close the gender pay gap is personal for Brian, and he will bring that passion to the office of the Comptroller.”

If we don’t address the gender pay and financial literacy gap, we are leaving a huge amount of potential economic activity on the table, and starving our neighborhoods and families of the leadership they need to thrive. By encouraging independent women and nonbinary New Yorkers to be financial leaders in their families, their communities, and our city, New York can become a fairer and more prosperous city.

“As a member of the Banks Committee and the Task Force on Women's Issues in the State Assembly, I understand the importance of financial literacy, and I commend Senator Benjamin on his strong ideas to close the gender pay gap in our city,” said Assemblymember Inez E. Dickens. “The women of New York City deserve a leader who will prioritize our issues and bring them to the forefront of government as we strive towards equality.”

As Comptroller, Brian will work with his Chief Diversity Officer to provide workshops in key neighborhoods identified by his Area Community Prosperity index as a guide, which will also be used to measure the success of the workshops. These workshops will focus on financial literacy and will partner with community organizations including non profits, credit unions, labor and trusted community organizations, including houses of worship and the National Pan-Hellenic Council. The goals of these workshops will be to find and encourage leaders and to arm people with financial literacy skills, no matter what they are starting with. Brian will participate in these workshops himself so he can share his lifetime of financial experience with the community and receive feedback about the local health of our city’s neighborhoods and families. The economic stability of women, particularly women of color, is personal to Brian. His successes would not have been possible without his immigrant mother’s remarkable journey from poverty to a stable, union job.

Brian believes that this is the kind of focus we will need to equitably recover from COVID-19. Even now, as our economy is beginning to rebound, the unemployment rate for Black women is 8.9% and 8.5% for Latina women, while the rate for white men has dropped to 5.3%. Gaps like these must be addressed directly with resources from city government. Economic policy is civil rights policy, and as comptroller Brian will bring his financial experience and his record of fighting for justice to the task at hand.