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The business of Women’s History Month

Women’s History Month is just a few days away! Here are two unique money stories centered around women.

Financial advising for a new demographic

Brittany Shammas reported for The Washington Post in January that women are gaining more economic power over time and “this is no fleeting trend.” Aside from starting more businesses and owning more homes, Shammas focused on how women are benefiting more from the wealth transfer of baby boomers at the same time younger women are taking control of their finances.

This shift means that the financial service industry needs to change alongside this new demographic of customers, which has historically been dubbed the “industry least sympathetic to women.” Women report feeling sidelined and patronized, and that their financial priorities are not understood by financial planners. A study by BNY Mellon found that 86% of asset managers admitted that, by default, they primarily target men with their products.

Lacy Garcia founded the company Willow to support women along their financial journey, which includes training financial professionals to better serve female clients. Sallie Krawcheck started Ellevest in 2014 for similar reasons, and the company Dow Janes began as a financial advisory group among friends. These are just a few examples of businesses that see the potential of a new demographic and are offering services tailored to this customer base.

Repealing the period tax

Taxes on menstrual products is as much a money issue as it is a women’s issue. Texas – the latest state to repeal the tax in 2023 – estimated that the sales tax on these products generated $28.6 million annually in 2022. Now that money stays in women’s wallets.

The legal nonprofit Period Law has been working since 2016 to remove state taxes on menstrual products such as tampons, pads, and menstrual cups. The group successfully sued the states of New York and Michigan, resulting in swift legislative changes. They also recently lobbied the Streamlined Sales Tax Governing Board to adopt a new term to replace the vague  “feminine hygiene products.” Male legislators have made it clear that they don’t actually understand what the category entails when tax-exemption bills are presented to state legislatures – making change difficult.

The new term for the category, “menstrual discharge collection devices,” is not only more clear, it ends any debate about whether removing taxes from “hygiene products” favors one sex over the other. Even though momentum is growing to remove taxes in every state – 11 have removed the tax since 2020 alone – the 21 states that continue to tax menstrual products have all individually at one point unsuccessfully introduced a bill to remove the tax. Advocates believe the new terminology will make a difference. Bills in Kentucky and Indiana have already been introduced with the new terminology.

Be sure to check out the Census Bureau’s Facts for Features. Their 2023 special edition still has plenty of information and database links to spark a story.

Author

  • Julianne Culey

    Julianne is the Assistant Director of the Reynolds Center with expertise in marketing and communications and holds a master's in Sociology from Arizona State University.

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