Women of color are behind white women in almost every financial and career measurement. Black women earn just $0.61 cents for every dollar earned by their white male counterparts, Native American women earn $0.58 to every dollar, and Latina women earn $0.53. Unfortunately, the gender wage gap doesn’t improve much as women of color climb the corporate ladder. Black women executives make just $0.62 on the dollar compared to white men in the same role, and Hispanic women make just $0.68, according to a new 2020 analysis from Payscale.
Yes, these numbers are stark, and they are discouraging. But, all too often when statistics like these are shared, one of the most common responses from white allies is: “Oh, that’s awful, we should all do more.” While many of our white readers (and listeners!) have made incredible efforts to bridge these gaps and spur real change — and we are so grateful for all you’ve done — more often than not, they don’t know where to begin to truly make an impact.
But on today’s show, we are going to change all that. We’re sitting down with two incredible women of color who have each brought us a list of concrete steps for exactly what white women can do to be allies for women of color.
Karen Ortiz is an Administrative Judge in the New York District Office of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, where she devotes her days to remedying unlawful employment discrimination and advancing equal opportunity for all in the workplace. She previously served as a Legal Director for MTA New York City Transit, and she has been a guest lecturer at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She also played herself in the off- off-Broadway comedy show “Wack or Woke?”
Chanel Cathey is the Founder and CEO of CJC Insights, a strategic communications and public relations firm in New York City. Previously she served as Head of Corporate Practice at Hunt & Gather, and as Director of Corporate Communications at Viacom. She also co-chairs the Advisory Board for “She’s The First,” a nonprofit that advances educational opportunities for women and girls, and she co-founded ELEVEN, a women’s leadership and empowerment network.
Chanel and Karen go into specifics about what people have done over the years to help uplift them in their careers, and what they’re doing today to give a leg up to women who are just entering their field. They get real about how they climbed the ladder, what it’s like to be the only woman of color in the room, and how to navigate that experience so that it’s not so isolating. Both women dive into what the terms ally, sponsor, mentor, and advocate mean to them, and have a frank conversation with Jean about whether or not you can call yourself an “ally.”
“A true ally also has something to risk. For example, sharing salary information,” Karen says. “If I have a white colleague, and want to find out: ‘Are we getting paid the same amount?’ That person would have to be willing to risk disclosing information that might not serve her, but for the greater cause, for allyship, will divulge that information, or take similar actions.”
True advocacy means stepping in and really helping to empower someone, Chanel clarifies, not just being a passive supporter. “These days, it’s so easy to go on social media and simply ‘like’ something, but to me, advocating for someone is speaking up for them,” she says. Using the social media example, Chanel clarifies that an advocate would create a post and encourage their followers to support a WOC-owned business, for example, rather than just “liking” a post.
The Trio also talk about bias — how to be aware of it, and how to speak up when we see it. Karen recommends checking out the website Bias Interrupters for more information. She also recommends reading “The Memo” by Minda Harts. Although the book is written for WOC, she says that any manager, or any white woman or ally, could get a lot out of reading it.
Chanel discusses some of the microaggressions that she’s endured over the years, and encourages white people to consider how their interactions with a person of color may be different than interactions with white peers. “Listen. Make a conscious effort to get to know women, and men and people who don’t necessarily look like you,” Chanel says. “I think there’s a natural inclination to find someone who you find common ground with, but we have to really, really stretch ourselves as a society, and get to know people, and stop making assumptions, because I think those assumptions, those stereotypes that are played out, that’s what’s really, really hurtful, 24 hours a day, once experienced.”
If you’ve caught yourself having stereotypes, give yourself some forgiveness — the difference-maker is whether you act on your assumptions or not, Karen clarifies. She adds that we should all be on the lookout for “coded behavior and language” in the workplace, citing an example of a corporate environment in which all the party planning (for example) might be done by employees of color — a situation in which non-career-enhancing office “housework” would be given to marginalized people. These are the kinds of things that white people might not notice, but that we should all try to keep an eye out for, and speak up when we see it.
In Mailbag, Jean and Kathryn tackle a question from a listener whose mom is now living with her, and she doesn’t think her mom is getting solid financial advice (or answers) from her advisor. We also tackle a question from a woman who is trying to pay down $24,000 in credit card debt and is considering taking out a personal loan, but is curious what her other options are. Lastly, we hear from a listener who is writing in on behalf of her college-aged sister, who recently inherited $14,000 and is unsure what to do with the money. In Thrive, Jean dives into budgeting and planning ahead for some of life’s expenses, and offers a rundown on some essential items that every woman should build into her budget.
Karen Ortiz: (00:00)
A true ally also has something to risk. For example, sharing salary information. If I have a white colleague and want to find out, are we getting paid the same amount, that person would have to be willing to risk disclosing information that might not serve her, but for the greater cause, for allyship, will divulge that information or take similar actions.
Jean Chatzky: (00:29)
HerMoney is supported by Fidelity Investments. Whether you’re celebrating a milestone or adjusting to the unexpected, Fidelity’s there to help you navigate life’s important moments with confidence. Visit Fidelity.com/HerMoney to learn more.
Jean Chatzky: (00:50)
Hey everyone. I’m Jean Chatzky. Thanks so much for joining me today on HerMoney. Today, we are going to talk through some hard truths, but we’re also going to share some solutions, some action steps that we can all really take to make a difference. Women of color are behind white women in almost every financial and career measurement. There are so many statistics on this and they are all one more demoralizing than the next. But let me just give you this. We talk a lot about the fact that women overall earn just 80 cents for every dollar that a man earns. But Black women earn just 61 cents. Native American women earn just 58 cents and Latina women earn just 53 cents. And unfortunately the gender wage gap doesn’t improve much, even as women of color climb the corporate ladder. These numbers are stark. They are discouraging. But all too often when stats like these are shared, the response is, oh, that’s awful. We should do more. But then what do we really do? Now I’m sure some of you listening have made incredible efforts to spur change, and we are grateful for that. But there are many people, like me sometimes, who don’t know where to truly begin to make an impact. That’s why we’re doing this show because we are going to change that. We are sitting down today with two incredible women of color who have each brought us some concrete steps for exactly what white women can do to be allies for women of color. Let me introduce them to you. I’ll let you hear a little bit of their voice so that, you know, who’s talking when. Karen Ortiz is an administrative judge in the New York District Office of the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission – that’s a mouthful – where she devotes her days to remedying unlawful employment discrimination and advancing equal opportunity for all in the workplace. She previously was a legal director for MTA, New York City Transit. And she’s been a guest lecturer at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She also, and this is big, she also played herself in an off, off Broadway comedy show called “Wack or Woke?” Hey Karen. Welcome.
Karen Ortiz: (03:26)
Hi Jean. So happy to be here today.
Jean Chatzky: (03:29)
So nice to be with you. Tell me just a tidbit about that show. I’m dying to know.
Karen Ortiz: (03:35)
Well, Andrea Coleman is an attorney and a comedian, and she has a show called “Wack or Woke?” where she discusses sort of outlier laws and judges them. And she asked me to appear on the show as myself because she said her show needed a little bit more street cred. She needed an actual judge. So that’s how I got involved in that. It was a hoot.
Jean Chatzky: (04:01)
Oh, sounds fantastic. Let’s also meet Chanel Cathey. She is the founder and CEO of CJC insights as strategic communications and PR firm in New York City. Previously, she served as Head of Corporate Practice at Hunt and Gather and as Director of Corporate Communications at Viacom. She also chairs the advisory board for She’s the First, a nonprofit that advances educational opportunities for women and girls and she co-founded Eleven, a women’s leadership and empowerment network. Chanel welcome. Tell me a little bit about She’s the First.
Chanel Cathey: (04:43)
Wonderful, thank you so much for having me.
Jean Chatzky: (04:46)
Chanel Cathey: (04:46)
Yup. I’ve been involved with She’s the First for a number of years now. I’m on their advisory board and it started when I was working at Viacom. We brought together a bunch of our communications executives across the organization in service of spending the morning with a nonprofit. And at the time it was She’s the First and they wanted help with PR and communications. And I met Tammy Tibbetts, the founder, and it was such a great opportunity. And I walked away from that saying, if there’s anything I can do to help. And I’ve been kind of on the advisory board and working with them ever since. So that’s kind of my motto. If there’s something I’m passionate about, I’ll always lend my services to it.
Jean Chatzky: (05:28)
Well, we thank you so much for being passionate and lending your services to us as well. I think it’s a question that is asked all too often and for which there just aren’t enough specifics, but before we dive into how we can all help other people, can you tell us a little bit about how you were helped through the years? What other people did to uplift you and what you are trying to do yourselves to help others these days? And Karen, let me start with you.
Karen Ortiz: (06:05)
I had wonderful mentors out of the gate. The first being my first sort of law boss, Barry Slotnick, who was a criminal defense attorney. I’m not sure if he’s practicing anymore, but they gave me a lot of support as an undergraduate and encouraged me to go to law school. I also got a lot of support from some of my bosses who have put me up for promotion, who have encouraged me to lean into my strengths, and that has led me to where I am today as a judge for the EEOC.
Jean Chatzky: (06:44)
What do you do as a judge for the EEOC? When you see cases of discrimination, is it up to you to decide whether they are or are not discriminatory?
Karen Ortiz: (06:56)
Yes, and I hold that responsibility so preciously. The cases I deal with involve federal employees who are alleging discrimination on a number of bases, including race. A lot of times there are multiple bases for the claims. And I actually help the parties develop the record and review the record, if necessary, have a hearing, and then make a determination as to whether there was discrimination. And if I make a finding of discrimination, I also can fashion a remedy, which could be anything from someone getting a promotion to a large monetary compensation.
Jean Chatzky: (07:40)
Are you seeing more cases these days? Because of the times we’re living in?
Karen Ortiz: (07:45)
We have a very high volume of cases in the New York District Office. So at the very least it’s steady. What I am seeing is a trend in more cases where, let’s say women over 40, Black women over 40, are making claims of discrimination and that may be twofold. Perhaps the atmosphere now has empowered people to make claims. But I think unfortunately some of it may be the result of the administration that our country’s under right now.
Jean Chatzky: (08:23)
Interesting. Chanel, when I look at your career, you spent time at some really well known companies. How did you climb the ladder so to speak?
Chanel Cathey: (08:35)
Yes. I’m so glad you asked that. I started my career at Unilever. I’ve worked at ABC News and Viacom before going out on my own. And at each point I have to credit amazing advisors. And I have to say sponsors, in addition to mentors, for helping me to guide and kind of navigate corporate America. It can be very tricky. I remember my first job out of college was at Unilever. I was in media relations and doing a lot of external work across media relations and crisis communications. And, it was a heavy load and you’re constantly working on projects, across many different brands and figuring out the brand voice and how to respond for each of them. And from a corporate level representing C-suites, I’ve always kind of represented CEO’s and kind of the leadership in that sense. And it’s a very difficult job. And a lot of times you are the only woman of color in the room. I would say most of the time I’m the only woman of color in the room. So I feel that my sponsors and mentors have been amazing at helping me to navigate that and making it not such an isolating experience, which it can be, if you feel like you’re one of the only in the room.
Jean Chatzky: (09:50)
Chanel, I am so glad you are using the lingo because I think it’s very confusing these days. We’ve heard the word ally already in this conversation. Sometimes I’ve heard it suggested that advocate is better than ally. We talk about mentors. We talk about sponsors. What’s the difference?
Chanel Cathey: (10:10)
Absolutely. I’m so glad you asked. For me, I specifically see a mentor often as a peer or someone in my parallel network that I’m comfortable with bringing questions, ideas, sometimes challenges that I need to work through. If I have a resume that needs to be looked over and tweaked and edited. Find someone in your tribe, in your crew, that you can reach out to, and ask these kinds of honest and sometimes vulnerable questions. To me, that’s a mentor. In my mind, a sponsor, and you mentioned an advocate, sometimes the sponsor for me, it’s one step further. You go to a sponsor when you need them to speak up for you in a room that you’re not in. If you need a promotion, if you need them to make a call, to make a recommendation. That to me is the sponsor. I always say, you go to your sponsor when you have everything together. And sometimes you can be vulnerable with them too, to talk through challenges. But it’s definitely that high ranking executive, or maybe CEO or founder, or maybe someone who has some power and some elevated status within an organization, that they can leverage to help you. And I think the final one is the one that brings us all together today is ally. And I think that term is being used quite frequently. And in my mind, it’s definitely someone who might benefit from their privilege in some way, but they leverage that to advocate and support someone who might be from an underrepresented or marginalized groups. So that’s how I define it and I hope that’s helpful.
Jean Chatzky: (11:40)
Yeah, no, it’s very helpful. There was this editorial in the New York times recently that basically said, you can’t call yourself an ally. You can’t proclaim that you’re an ally. You can try to be an ally, but really only the people who need your help can say, oh, that woman is an ally. Do you agree with that, Karen?
Karen Ortiz: (12:01)
Absolutely. I would also add that a true ally also has something to risk. For example, sharing salary information. If I have a white colleague and want to find out, are we getting paid the same amount, that person would have to be willing to risk disclosing information that might not serve her, but for the greater cause, for allyship, will divulge that information or take similar actions.
Jean Chatzky: (12:31)
Oh. I like that. I actually have never heard that before. And I think that’s really, really interesting. I also heard, and I heard it in a spin class. I’ve been on the Peloton during much of the quarantine, and I was taking Robin Arzon’s Pride Ride. And she talked about ally as a verb. That it’s not just that you’re being an ally, you’re forging an alliance. And if you think about what they do on the television show, Survivor, right? They do both have things to lose. Do you think of it in that active way?
Karen Ortiz: (13:10)
I think that’s a great way to think about it. And I’m impressed that you’re doing Peloton as well. I can barely…
Jean Chatzky: (13:17)
I am eating so much bread. I am doing whatever I can.
Karen Ortiz: (13:22)
But yes, it’s definitely active. But I think in taking a risk, you also put yourself and the person that you’re, the woman of color,or the Black woman or Latinx woman that you want to be an ally of, you’re putting yourself in the position to elevate both of you. Because information is empowering. Yeah. So definitely I would think of it as an active verb. I love that.
Chanel Cathey: (13:48)
I do too.
Jean Chatzky: (13:49)
Go ahead. Chanel will please weigh in.
Chanel Cathey: (13:51)
I just think it’s such a great way. I think one thing that I’m seeing now, it’s so easy to go on social media and like something. And there’s such a passive feeling in that. And for me, advocating for someone is speaking up for them. You know, I’m an entrepreneur. I run my own business. So if someone encourages their community to support my business or they recommend me or, they ask me, is there anything I can do for your business? That’s active. And to me, that’s allyship. It’s not something that’s passive. So I’m glad that you brought it up in that sense.
Jean Chatzky: (14:27)
Well, you’re getting to the action steps. So let’s actually dive in there a little bit. I mean, when we want to actually do something, what are the right things to do and how do you get to those steps? What does doing more look like? And Chanel, you started on this road. So let me stick with you here.
Chanel Cathey: (14:48)
Sure, sure. I mentioned a couple of examples of how you can support women of color and their businesses. That also goes for, if you’re within an organization and you’re looking for a way to stand up for them and promote them and call out work that’s excellent, that’s a way to also be an ally. And I think one thing for me, I think right now we’re witnessing the entire country going through kind of a listening phase and getting educated around what’s going on. And I think that’s a huge part of it. I think you have to listen to what’s going on. You have to take it all in and actually see what’s going on in your own environment, in your own life. And it’s one thing if you want to read articles and books and watch documentaries to understand these dynamics that are happening both everyday out in the street, but also in our workplaces. These things are happening every day and it’s one step to get educated. And for me, I’d like to see allyship take it one step further. And if you see something that’s not right, it’s on you to like step up, speak up in the moment and intervene. And I’m sure Karen can speak to this so much more, but once we listen and get educated, whenever there’s wrongdoing, true allyship is stepping in. And I think that’s what we’re starting to see with the protests in the street now. People are taking a stand.
Jean Chatzky: (16:11)
And what I like about what you’re saying, and Karen I want to hear your list of to do’s as well, but what I like about you’re saying is that they don’t have to be these huge things, right? There are small ways that we can do this every single day. I mean, for a long time, we’ve talked about how to lift other women, all women, up in the workplace. And one example is just if you’re in a meeting, and a woman says something, and then a man steps on her and takes credit for that, to step up and say, well, as Karen said a moment ago, and then just repeat it to give her the credit. I mean, it can be something as simple as that.
Chanel Cathey: (16:55)
It’s something so small, and I’m so glad you mentioned that. I always credit one of my early bosses, Carol Robinson, when she was at Viacom, we had a meeting, and I immediately, even as the director, I was definitely the most junior person in the room, kind of sat along the edge. And Carol like pulled up a chair from the outer ring and she put it in and she was like, come and sit down. And you’re a part of this conversation. I never want to see you around the outside. And to me, that was so small. She didn’t do it in a public way because the meeting didn’t start. But it was a way of letting me know, I belonged in the room. I belonged at the table, always on her watch. And I think that kind of allyship had an amazing partnership and career working together. And I credit it to those small actions like that. If you don’t jump in and kind of say, hey, that’s not sitting with me right, and address it in the moment, it can absolutely fester over time. And those small aggressions – there are a lot of small aggressions that we experience as women of color in the workforce – it mounts up to serious trauma over time. And I think that’s what we’re starting to see, that the dirty laundry airing now.
Jean Chatzky: (18:02)
Karen, when you think about the things that people have either done for you, or that you would like to see women do to lift women of color up, what are they.
Karen Ortiz: (18:13)
Well, I would like to just offer up that anyone who wants to be an ally, you really need to be able to lean into, maybe think about a time when you were marginalized and think about that experience, and have some empathy around just what it feels like to be marginalized period, as a woman, as however, think intersectionally, whatever groups you fit into. And then, there are these microsteps that you can take. That both you and Chanel referenced. But first I think you need to lead into that experience of being marginalized. And then you have to be able to spot bias and racism at work. So, I think there’s some great resources out there. There’s a website called biasinterrupters.org, that both organizations and people can look at those toolkits to see what exactly bias can look like. Because it’s usually not explicit animus. You’ll see it in these smaller types, you know, the shushing in a meeting or things like that. So I think that’s one step you can take. Lead into your own experience. Learn how to spot bias and then be an upstander, not a bystander. The examples you and Chanel gave were great. I also recall an experience where this was very early on in my career as an attorney, where another person in my office actually made a derogatory comment about Puerto Ricans. I happened to be Puerto Rican. And another colleague of mine was in the room and called her out on it. And I was going to just let it go because I’ve been used to letting these things go my entire life. That’s kind of how you learn to survive sometimes when you’re in a marginalized group. And not only did she stand up for me in the moment, the person actually apologized and backtracked, but she went to our supervisor who then addressed it in a meaningful way. So those are steps you can do. You can be an upstander and not a bystander. And then you can also, there’s so many resources out there. I would also recommend reading a book called “The Memo” by Minda Harts. It was, I think, intentionally for women of color. But I think that any manager, white women, allies, could really get a lot out of her book. She really shares her experience as a Black woman in the corporate space. And it’s just a great read. I would recommend that. I know there are so many resources being thrown at everybody and I think it can be very overwhelming, but I think that’s a very good entry point into educating yourself.
Jean Chatzky: (21:00)
Oh, thank you so much for that. I am going to put that one right on my list. I want to dig a little further into the micro-aggressions that you were talking about Chanel. But before we do that, let me remind everybody HerMoney is proudly sponsored by Fidelity Investments. Some of life’s important moments are planned for way in advance, while there are others that we don’t see coming. As always the Fidelity’s here to help you navigate the joyous, but also the unexpected, with confidence. Their resources, guides, and tools can help guide you through important financial decisions when you need it most. Visit Fidelity.com/HerMoney to learn more. I am speaking with Chanel Cathey, founder and CEO of CJC Insights and Karen Ortiz, an administrative judge in the New York District Office of the EEOC. Microaggressions. That is a word that we are hearing more and more these days. Can you talk a little bit more about them, how you’ve experienced them, but also how we can become better at catching them ourselves before we make them?
Chanel Cathey: (22:18)
Absolutely. I’m so glad you brought that up. I think microaggressions, I always say they’re not so micro, because they pile up over time and they sit with you. And it can be anything from someone interrupting you in a meeting, whether it’s a man or a woman, if you are the only woman of color in the room, and you’re constantly interrupted. If you’re always asked to go and get the coffee. I’ve had instances where people shove papers across the desk at me and then carefully hand them to other people. There are these small things and I always say, you might not pay attention to them, but for someone like me, who’s often the one and only, I see at all. I’ll notice if you move to the other side as a gentleman for a white woman and then when I walk, you force me to have to go to the outside of the sidewalk. I see all of these things on a daily basis. And then when you’re in corporate America, I think oftentimes you’re so afraid sometimes to speak up because you don’t want to create a culture where, oh, Chanel is a troublemaker or, oh, Chanel’s always bringing up race. You’re trying to be a part of the culture and be a team player. But oftentimes a lot of the dynamics are harmful. People can say small things, whether they’re commenting about your hair, or there’s a broader conversation where you’re talking about summer homes and maybe I don’t have a summer home. And that’s kind of getting to the point of intersectionality, which we haven’t really talked about in this call. But you know, if you’re thinking about these cross sections of gender and race and socioeconomic status and how all of this manifests in each of us, and when we’re all sharing space, there needs to be recognition of us and how we are all uniquely different. And I think a lot of the microaggressions come up and manifest when people are not so skilled at navigating these intersections.
Jean Chatzky: (24:13)
Can you give us a little bit of advice for how to navigate them?
Chanel Cathey: (24:17)
Sure, sure. I think, you know, one thing I’ve always noticed, people will say like, oh yes, I’m with you. We’re women. We’re feminists. We’re together. But then as a Black woman, the dynamics and the way that you interact with me as a Black woman versus maybe one of your white peers, is very different. So I think the first thing is really, I mentioned earlier, like listen, but making a conscious effort to get to know women and men and people that don’t necessarily look like you. I think there’s a natural inclination sometimes to kind of find someone who you find common ground with, but we have to really, really stretch ourselves as a society and get to know people and stop making assumptions. Because I think those assumptions, those stereotypes often that are played out, that’s what’s really hurtful 24 hours a day once experienced.
Jean Chatzky: (25:13)
Karen, you want to weigh in?
Karen Ortiz: (25:15)
Absolutely. Stereotypes, I love talking about that aspect of what we can do in the workplace and just in all spaces really. But we all have stereotypes. But the difference is, you can control whether you act on certain assumptions. So there’s the theory of stereotype activation and stereotype application. Stereotype activation is just automatic. Like you can’t stop your brain from making certain assumptions. And I’ve caught myself doing that. When I read a case file and then I go and meet the parties in person. And I go, oh, they didn’t sound like what I thought they would sound like. They didn’t look like what I thought they would look like. And I’m checking myself. Kind of laughing at myself. Okay. We all can fall victim to it. But we don’t have to stay a victim to stereotyping. We can practice stereotype application, where you can control whether you act on your assumptions. So, that’s one thing we can do. I also watch, and I see this in a lot of my cases, I watch for coded behavior and language. And those are the workplace is just rife with them. An example is for example, all the party planning in a particular office is done by all the Black employees or all employees of color. That’s sort of coded behavior in terms of giving loads, non-career enhancing, like office house work, to marginalized people. So you have to look for these behaviors. For stereotyping and for coded behaviors and language.
Jean Chatzky: (26:54)
Let’s talk about men. In terms of allies and mentors and sponsors, I sometimes think we get into these conversations and we expect that it will be other women who help us. Have you found men to be helpful? And how do you cultivate male allies, sponsors, or maybe cultivate’s the wrong word. It kind of sounded yucky as it came out of my mouth. Where do men fit into this conversation?
Karen Ortiz: (27:22)
I think you can start with being project-based about it as a way in, if you have a particular project. And you know, whether you’re wanting to be a male ally or you’re a person of color who wants to work with a male, you can look at it on a project basis, if that’s available to you in your workspace. For example, in my workspace, if I know a colleague, a white male colleague of mine is working on a particular case, and maybe I want some knowledge around that particular area, I might ask, hey, can I work on this with you? Or that person might offer. So that’s a way in.
Jean Chatzky: (27:59)
Chanel, how about from you?
Chanel Cathey: (27:59)
Absolutely, I think you have to 100% have men at the table and in your circle, in your orbit, working and championing on your behalf. I think about my personal mentors, sponsors, they’re men and women. And I think that’s what really makes it. You mentioned earlier, how did I move about my career? I had support from all sides and oftentimes I had men in leadership rooms speaking up on my behalf. You can just look at the numbers on who’s in the C-suite and it’s a lot of men. So, if we’re talking about moving up the ranks and you don’t have men advocating on your behalf, guiding your career, helping to give you stretch projects, helping to say, hey, why don’t you do this tour abroad? Why don’t you do this? I think they have the opportunity. They have the ability to open doors. I encourage them to do it more. I think we had a moment, especially around Me Too where male directors are keeping doors open when they were doing performance reviews and there was a bit of a culture of fear going on. And we have to move away from that where men feel comfortable to mentor and sponsor women within the organization at all ranks. I think back to earlier in my career and a man has always been in the room, advocating on my behalf when I couldn’t be there, pushing for me to have stretch projects. And I think we need more of that. We need more men to sponsor and mentor women. There shouldn’t be a culture of fear around that in the workforce. I think we as women too, need to stretch and reach out to them as well. And I think there’s never been, in my whole like decade plus career, I’ve never said, hey, will you be my sponsor? Will you be my mentor? But I always go out as a way to see what they’re reading and recommend a new book, or maybe buy one and drop it off at the office. How can you bring value and some joy to people’s lives and how can you build and forge long-lasting relationships through these connections? And I think that’s really valuable and it doesn’t matter what gender you are.
Jean Chatzky: (30:08)
I think you’re absolutely right about that. And I’ve heard that before. I haven’t done that either. Oh, will you be my mentor or will you be my sponsor? It’s more of a matter of making yourself valuable and interesting and somebody that they see benefit to themselves in helping.
Chanel Cathey: (30:26)
Absolutely. Or I think one thing that we’re seeing now, so many people are like, how can I help? Where do I go? If you’re doing an event, if you’re hosting something, you need people to show up or support your zoom call, whatever it may be, reach out, you know, or set up a coffee, a virtual coffee, if it is now and spend some time catching up. One thing that is always helpful is do you remember birthdays? Someone has a baby, do you spend time sending them a card? Little things that go so far in developing the relationship and you don’t have to have the formal terms around it. But just so that we know as we’re moving through our careers that folks closest to us fall into some of these key roles.
Jean Chatzky: (31:12)
Absolutely. Karen, let me give you the last word as we wrap this up. What’s the one thing you’d like to see more of from people.
Karen Ortiz: (31:21)
I love to see people lean into their authentic selves. I think so many of us show up at the workplace thinking we have to act and speak and be a certain way when really the best thing to do is show up as yourself and lean into that. And that’s going to inform the work you do. It’s going to make others around you feel more comfortable to also be themselves. And I think that just leads to a great workspace period.
Jean Chatzky: (31:48)
Love that. Karen, if we want to learn more about you or connect with you or our listeners do, where’s the best place to do that?
Karen Ortiz: (31:56)
I do hang out on social media and my handle is @KarenOrtizEsq. So you can find me on Twitter and Instagram, LinkedIn.
Jean Chatzky: (32:08)
And Chanel, where can we learn more about you?
Chanel Cathey: (32:10)
Wonderful. You can always find me on my website at www.cjcinsights.com. I’m also usually checking Instagram @ChanelCJC.
Jean Chatzky: (32:22)
Thank you both so much. I hope you’ll come back again.
Karen Ortiz: (32:25)
I would love to. Thank you Jean.
Chanel Cathey: (32:26)
Me too. Thanks so much.
Jean Chatzky: (32:29)
Absolutely. And we’ll be right back with Kathryn and your mailbox.
Jean Chatzky: (32:32)
HerMoney’s Kathryn Tuggle joins me now. Hey, Kathryn.
Kathryn Tuggle: (32:44)
Jean Chatzky: (32:45)
Thank you so much for teeing up that conversation. I felt like I learned a ton and I expect that a lot of people will as well. So thank you.
Kathryn Tuggle: (32:54)
Oh, of course. Yeah, they were both great. And I did say, when I was initially having those conversations with them, I said, bring actual concrete things we need, we need three to five things that people can act on today without needing any extra resources or anything.
Jean Chatzky: (33:09)
What I loved most about it was it was the first time, you know, and we’ve been having these conversations a lot, but it was the first time for me that the light bulb went off, that these don’t have to be huge protests. Like it’s great to go out and protest. We should all protest when we want to protest, but they can be little things too. And they’re not so little when you do them habitually over time.
Kathryn Tuggle: (33:33)
Exactly. You know, I think everybody’s looking for what to do when the marches are not happening on a regular basis and how to keep that momentum going. And I think that that’s exactly what we got today.
Jean Chatzky: (33:48)
Totally agree with you. Let’s take some questions. I know our questions are just pouring in which, by the way folks, we love this. Kathryn and I are teeing up some special mailbag episodes. So we’ve got room for more questions than we answer on a regular basis. So, if you’ve got ’em, send them to us at [email protected]
Kathryn Tuggle: (34:08)
Absolutely. And actually this first note that we have today comes from our Facebook group. It was a member of our Facebook group, Iris, who asked the question and it seemed like the perfect kind of thing to talk through right now. She says, hi Jean and Kathryn, I love the show and I’m so grateful for all of your advice. Due to COVID and a few other factors, my mother is living with us right now. Her bills have been a huge source of stress for her. My husband and I are working with her on her budget and cutting down fees in many areas. Sadly, people have been charging her a lot from accountants billing her nearly 5,000 annually for relatively uncomplicated taxes to incredibly high auto insurance premiums, for example. We found a lovely new accountant and are slowly balancing her costs. My mom’s attitude has been so wonderful even at a stressful time. However, I think she will need a new person, one she can trust, in the role of fiduciary advisor, as she’s about to sell her property to ensure she has what she needs in the longer term. Can you remind me what the resources are for finding the right advisor? Also, can I get a reminder on experiences with fee structures for retirement accounts. To note, from what I can gather, and it is challenging to piece together, fees are being charged by her advisors to manage her IRA and her non-IRA accounts. She has approximately $400,000 invested and is being charged about $1,350 a quarter. Her financial advisors are friendly, but not too responsive. And they’ve given attention to her struggle to pay bills and have not provided solid advice there. In addition, we’ve asked four times to have the fee structure explained, but still no concrete answers. We would appreciate any advice. Thank you so much.
Jean Chatzky: (35:50)
Okay. That last sentence about the asked four times to have the fee structure explained with no concrete answers, to me is every bit of information you need to fire these people.
Kathryn Tuggle: (36:03)
That’s a deal-breaker.
Jean Chatzky: (36:03)
Yeah. It’s a total deal breaker. If they can’t explain to you how much they get paid, then you have no reason to keep paying them, I think. On the numbers themselves, I think what she’s paying is a little high, but I don’t think it’s egregious. So, it sounds to me as if she is using the type of financial advisor that charges a percentage of assets under management. I would expect to see, with an account of her size, that percentage at around 1%. You’re a little bit over 1% for the year. Not egregiously over if they were providing tremendous service and they were responsive to every single one of your calls and answered all of your questions clearly and completely, which is what advisors should do. I might argue that they were worth keeping. But clearly they’re not and it’s time to look for somebody else. When it comes to a fiduciary, one great place to look, is for any financial advisor who has the CFP credential. CFP stands for Certified Financial Planner. They’re all fiduciaries. Also any advisor who is a member of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, NAPFA, they are all fiduciaries as well. And they charge in a variety of ways, but many of them will charge by assets under management. As the portfolio grows in size, the typical way these fees work is that the percentage that they charge you starts to go down. So you might start by paying 1%, but as your assets grow to over a million, maybe you end up paying 0.8%. They should have a real scale. They should have an easy, easy way of explaining this to you. And in terms of finding somebody that you like enough for your mother to work with, I would start with that lovely new accountant because the accountant and the financial advisor will probably want to coordinate. And if they’ve worked together in the past, that’s a pretty good sign that they’ll work well together in the future. I would start there. I would ask for a recommendation and the point that you raise about her struggle to pay her bills is an interesting one. So there is another kind of a professional called a Daily Money Manager. There’s an Association of Daily Money Managers. And these folks actually help, often older people, with the tactical paying of the bills, when they are no longer able to do it themselves. It sounds like you’ve stepped into that role for your mom and the real concern is that she have enough money coming from these investments to pay her bills. But if I’m wrong about that, and you’re actually looking for somebody to write the checks, make sure everything is balancing, I would look for somebody from the Association of Daily Money Managers, or again, some accountants have a person on staff who takes these tasks on and you may be able to bring it in-house. And I hope that that helps. Thanks so much for listening and thanks for being part of our Facebook group. We love having you.
Kathryn Tuggle: (39:40)
Absolutely. And how amazing that you’re taking such great care of your mom, letting her move in with you and walking her through this. It’s just beautiful.
Jean Chatzky: (39:47)
Kathryn Tuggle: (39:49)
Our next note comes to us from Syd. She writes, hello. First and foremost, I’d like to say, thank you for your wonderful podcast. I recently discovered it and I’m already hooked.
Jean Chatzky: (39:58)
Kathryn Tuggle: (39:59)
I’m 24 years old and make around $53,00-$55,000 a year and unfortunately I’m in a huge amount of credit card debt from living above my means over the years. I realized I need to get a better hold of my finances and I’m considering taking out a personal loan to consolidate my debt. I have $24,000 in credit card debt, but no student loans, no car note and no phone bill. Thankfully, my parents blessed me with a car after college and they still pay my phone bill. What are things I should consider before taking a personal loan? Are there lenders you’d recommend? Thanks so much.
Jean Chatzky: (40:29)
So Syd, good for you for trying to get your act together at 24 years old. I think this is fabulous and we are going to put you on the right track. But I don’t want you taking out any more debt, even lower interest rate debt, until you get yourself on a budget. What you have to figure out is where your money’s going. You need to start tracking your spending to the dollar, if not to the penny, immediately. And you need to start looking at where you’re spending, where you can trim your spending, so that you can flow more money back against that credit card debt. Now, I get that the interest rate on this credit card debt is probably so high that it’s preventing you from making significant headway against that credit card debt. But you gotta get really, really, really honest with the numbers before you start changing the debt structure in order to handle it. And then I would do it in this way. Before you apply for a personal loan, I would look into balance transfers. I would look into whether you can do this with credit cards as the instrument, rather than taking on an additional personal loan. And the reason for this is that I’m a little worried that if you take on a personal loan and use it to clear the lines on your credit cards, you will, if you haven’t gotten your act together, charge those credit cards right back up again. And then you’re going to find yourself in a hole that’s doubly deep. So take a look at your credit score. My guess is it’s pretty good. As long as you are making your payments on time. Start with your existing card companies. Call them and see if there is any way to lower your interest rates. If there’s not, look into balance transfers to see if you can move your balance to a credit card with a substantially lower interest rate, that will give you the leeway to just throw more money against principle and less money against interest. If you can’t, then you can look at a personal loan. We have a list of personal lenders on HerMoney.com so I would start there, but if you do it, I need you to put those credit cards in a drawer and only use debit. Because it’s the only way to be absolutely 100% certain that you’re not going to get yourself into more debt. And if you need help with this, I want you to keep your eyes open. We are launching a program called Finance Fixx. It is a coaching program to help people, not just who are struggling with debt, but who have financial goals that they want to meet, that they are struggling with because they’re having some of the same issues that you are. They’re spending too much. They’re saving, not enough. The debt is getting a little bit out of control. We can help you with this. So just keep an eye out at hermoney.com for when we launch. It’ll be very shortly. And we’ll keep you posted on the podcast as well.
Kathryn Tuggle: (43:54)
Amazing and ride the family paying for your phone as long as you possibly can.
Jean Chatzky: (44:02)
Absolutely. We have not talked about this in a while, but I really think that’s like the last gasp of adulthood, right?
Kathryn Tuggle: (44:10)
It’s so true.
Jean Chatzky: (44:10)
Before you enter adulthood. Like, I still pay for my kids’ phones. They’ll probably be embarrassed that I said that on the podcast, although maybe not so embarrassed cause I’m still paying for their phones, but yeah. Ride it as long as you can. The phone bill, the Netflix membership, whatever you can get.
Kathryn Tuggle: (44:25)
Yeah. I think I was probably 32 before I came off my parents phone bill.
Jean Chatzky: (44:30)
Don’t that to my kids.
Kathryn Tuggle: (44:32)
Okay. All right. Our last note comes to us from Fatia. She writes, hi Jean. My sister recently came into about $14,000. $6,000 was a gift. And the other $8,000 was money she received from a car accident settlement. She’s just 19 years old and has about $10,000 in student loan debt. Right now she’s a sophomore in college and she doesn’t really know what to do with this $14,000. She has no health issues, no credit card debt and no other debt. She’s thinking about using HerMoney to pay off her student loans, to save, to put toward a real estate property or to save for retirement. What do you think she should do?
Jean Chatzky: (45:08)
I think she should pay off the student loans. I really do. And then I think she should take the rest of the money. There’ll be about $4,000 left over. And really look at how much additional debt she needs to take out for her last two years of college and if there’s any way to minimize that debt so that she comes out of college with as little debt as possible. We’ve heard so many stories from people who just can’t get a start on adult life because they’ve got so much student debt that they have to take second jobs, that they find they are living at home longer than they want to live at home, that they put off buying cars and houses and getting married and all of those sorts of things. And I think she can just at least clear the slate for about half of her education. But I’d really, really advise that she borrow less if possible as she finishes up her degree.
Kathryn Tuggle: (46:09)
Yeah, I totally agree. I was thinking that to start her career free of student loan debt would be such a blessing because then, when she does start earning that paycheck, she can really focus on making those allocations go directly into retirement.
Jean Chatzky: (46:24)
Yeah. It’s like starting retirement without a mortgage. It’s just a gift and not a lot of people get it these days.
Kathryn Tuggle: (46:30)
Jean Chatzky: (46:31)
So that is what I’m hoping for your sister and good for you for writing on your sister’s behalf. She is really, really lucky to have you. Kathryn, thanks so much.
Kathryn Tuggle: (46:42)
Jean Chatzky: (46:43)
In today’s Thrive, I wanted to talk a little bit more about budgeting and planning for some of life’s expenses, some unexpected, some of them, not some big, some small. Over the last few months, we have all seen firsthand the importance of having a healthy emergency fund, but ideally once we’ve protected ourselves there and we’re ready for that car repair or whatever it is that comes along, we’ll keep saving for other important things. Here’s a look at a list we put together at hermoney.com of expenses that every woman should plan for. Divorce or split from a partner. For stay at home partners, perhaps this means discussing a postnup to ensure that you’ll be financially compensated for your time away from the workforce in the event of a split. For partners who make significantly more money, this could mean communicating about who’s funding which longterm goals and what the expectations are around those goals. But for everyone, it also means having resources of your own in your own name, so that if your spouse walked out tomorrow, you could pay the rent, hire movers and do whatever you needed to move onward and upward. Cab and rideshare fees. Every woman should prioritize and budget for their safety. If at anytime you feel unsafe, whether you’re in an unsafe neighborhood, your date sucks, your train is out of service, your car breaks down, or you get separated from the friend who drove, you should be able to get in a taxi or Lyft and go home whether it costs you $15 or $150, pay that fare if it means getting home safely. Preventative care. Healthcare is no place to scale back, especially if it’s preventative care like breast cancer screenings, annual wellness visits, and pelvic exams. These exams keep you healthy and should not be considered optional. And taxes. If you had just got married or had a particularly robust year as a freelancer, you could be hit with a substantial tax bill. While there are options available when you can’t pay, you’ll save yourself time and money if you can just write a single check and not have to talk to the IRS for another whole year. Thanks so much for joining me today on HerMoney. Thank you to Karen Ortiz and Chanel Cathey for joining me for this incredibly important conversation. I know I’m walking away with a more clear sense of exactly what I can do to help. And I hope that all of you are as well. If you like what you hear, please subscribe to our show at Apple Podcasts. Leave us a review because we love hearing what you think. We want to thank our sponsor Fidelity. We record this podcast out of CDM Sound Studios. Our music is provided by Video Helper and our show comes to you through megaphone. Thanks so much for joining us and we’ll talk soon.