Sallie Krawcheck tells women: 'Sometimes it’s not you, it’s him’

The gender pay gap may have narrowed since 1980, but it still persists. In 2018, women earned 85% of what men earned, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of median hourly earnings of both full-time and part-time workers.

And according to Sallie Krawcheck, CEO of Ellevest, a digital investing startup focused on women, the pay gap — and the gender wealth gap — has led to more than just uneven checking accounts.

“I think we would all agree that we actually wouldn’t be in this #MeToo #TimesUp moment if women had as much money as men do,” Krawcheck told an audience at the INvolve & Audeliss CEO Panel Breakfast hosted by Yahoo Finance.

Women own 32 cents for every dollar a man does, Krawcheck said. “What’s a reason women may have to accept a job, stay in a job where she’s not getting promoted. People who she’s outperforming are getting promoted around her. She didn’t have enough money to leave,” said Krawcheck.


Krawcheck pushed back against the notion that it’s entirely in women’s hands to achieve their career goals. “In an era of know your worth, take the seat at the table, you go girl, you got this, you know if you didn’t get the raise this time, you didn’t read the book closely enough. You better underline it, you better notate it, go back in there. It’s just a matter of working harder. What I would say is, sometimes it’s not you. Sometimes you work for a Todd,” she said.

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 25:  Ellevest CEO and Co-Founder Sallie Krawcheck speaks onstage at the Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit on October 25, 2017 in New York City.  (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Yahoo)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 25: Ellevest CEO and Co-Founder Sallie Krawcheck speaks onstage at the Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit on October 25, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Yahoo)

“Todd,” as described by Krawcheck, is not necessarily a man or a woman, but a manager who talks about supporting women and minorities in the workplace but doesn’t always follow through. “He or she went to unconscious bias training class...talks about how they’re woke, but just never seems to promote anybody but someone who looks like themself,” she said. “No book will tell you this, it’s not you, it’s him.”

As awareness about the gender pay gap increases, some of America’s largest companies are beginning to address it. For instance, Citigroup adjusted the salaries of some of its female employees after an internal analysis revealed a 27% gap in average pay among peers in 2019. However, the vast majority of the country’s largest public companies have not publicly disclosed gender pay gaps. Only 65 out of 890 were transparent with the public, according to Just Capital.

‘Take your hand off my leg money’

Prior to co-founding Ellevest, Krawcheck was Citigroup’s chief financial officer. She was also president of Global Wealth and Investment Management at Bank of America. She advises that women focus on their personal finances in order to get out of unfavorable situations at the workplace.

“Take care of your finances at home. You make sure you’re building up that cushion… so you’ve got the ‘get the hell out of the job that’s not working for me’ money. Which happens to be, by the way, also leave the relationship I don’t like money. And at the same time ‘the take your hand off my leg’ money,” she said.

Krawcheck encourages women to leverage their financial might. “Advice to us around money, tends to be don’t buy the latte, invest the money instead. Don’t have the facial. Don’t buy the shoes,” she said.

While men hear “generate Alpha, buy low sell high,” she said. “We actually are trying to hit at these societal underpinnings where we tend to think, we would never really phrase it this way, we tend to think money is for men.”

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