In the Spotlight

Time to close the retirement income gender gap

By Teresa Hassara

Gender equality is one of the defining issues of our time, with women making strides professionally, politically, and in their personal lives. However, when it comes to their long-term financial wellness and retirement security, women continue to significantly trail their male counterparts, largely because they face unique personal and professional obstacles to saving.

Women generally earn less than men.Women also typically live longer than men.2 They often take time out from the workforce to take care of children, aging parents, and other loved ones. And many work in lower-salaried “pink collar” professions.

Smaller paychecks may translate into smaller retirement plan contributions, smaller employer matches, lower lifetime Social Security retirement benefits, and a greater chance that women will face a retirement income gap in retirement.

Not surprisingly, MassMutual’s 2018 Women’s Retirement Risk Study found that women are considerably less confident than men about preparing for retirement, more risk averse, and as a result, expect to run out of money five years too soon in retirement.

Compounding this is the fact that saving for retirement often drops down on the list of financial priorities for many women, whose more pressing concerns include meeting daily living costs (64 percent) and paying off debt (57 percent).3

At MassMutual, we believe we have an important opportunity to help women to derive more of the benefits of their workplace retirement plans. This includes helping business owners provide financial wellness programs and tools aimed at helping female workers to think differently about their financial priorities. In addition, we help design plans with features that can nudge women toward higher savings rates. We also provide online resources, such as MapMyBenefits, to help them maximize each benefit dollar they have available.

In short, it’s about giving women the education, resources, and tools they need to help build financial security for today, and the future. It’s also about helping your clients to understand the impact of retirement readiness on their bottom line.

Viability is a leading edge tool that enables you to use real-time data from your clients to quantify the financial and productivity costs of a non-retirement ready workforce. It also helps you determine which plan design and investment levers your clients should pull to drive better outcomes.

Of course, retirement readiness isn’t just a women’s issue. It’s an issue for all workers. Helping your clients to close the retirement income gap is something we can do together.

For the full MassMutual Women’s Retirement Risk Study, click here.

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Teresa Hassara is Head of MassMutual’s Workplace Solutions.

1 Bureau of Labor Statistics News Release: Usual Weekly Earnings of Wage and Salary Workers, Second Quarter 2018. https://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/wkyeng.pdf

2 Life Expectancy Calculator, Social Security Administration, 2018. https://www.ssa.gov/planners/lifeexpectancy.html

2017/2018 Global Benefits Survey, Willis Towers Watson, March 28, 2018.  https://www.willistowerswatson.com/en/insights/2017/11/2017-global-benefits-attitudes-survey

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