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Cultivating Financial Health in the Workplace: Recognizing Diversity

By Mrs. Shay Cook, CEO of Crusaders for Change, LLC (C4C) Accredited Financial Counselor® & Financial Fitness Coach®

Business executives joining hands celebrating teamwork

Recognizing and celebrating diversity in the workplace goes beyond visible differences; it extends into the realm of personal finances. As an employer, are you providing a safe space, community, and resources to nurture the financial well-being of your diverse workforce? Proverbs 11:25 (NIV) says, "A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed." Generosity and caring for others is a principle of leadership–and for many businesses–part of their mission and vision.

Recognizing diversity in the workplace means truly caring for your employees and establishing practices and programs within a work environment that promote the financial well-being of all employees. We do this while acknowledging and addressing the diverse needs and challenges that individuals may face. 

It involves tailoring financial health initiatives to be inclusive, considering factors such as varying financial backgrounds, cultural influences, and personal circumstances. Recognizing diversity in financial health initiatives ensures that the workplace supports the unique financial journeys of its diverse workforce.

Diversity: Know the Financial Facts

Understanding that diversity extends beyond what meets the eye is fundamental. There are financial differences influenced by race, gender, socioeconomic background, life experiences, and, importantly, personal financial situations. Recognizing and respecting these differences is the first step toward building an inclusive workplace.

Financial disparities among racial and ethnic groups in the United States are complex and influenced by various factors such as historical context, systemic issues, and socio-economic conditions. Here are some general trends, but it's crucial to note that individual experiences vary widely. 

Income & Wealth Gap

On average, Black and Hispanic households tend to have lower median incomes compared to White households. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median income for Black households is lower than that of White households. It can be even lower for Black females. The wealth gap is often attributed to historical factors, including discriminatory practices in areas such as housing and employment.

Unemployment Rates

Unemployment rates can vary among racial and ethnic groups. Black Americans, on average, may experience higher unemployment rates than White Americans. Black workers still face more challenges in finding a job, especially a good one, compared to their White counterparts. They deal with higher unemployment rates, fewer job opportunities, lower pay, fewer benefits, and less job stability. 

These ongoing differences result from systemic & systematic obstacles to quality jobs, like direct discrimination against Black workers. Additionally, there's job segregation, where Black workers often end up in lower-paying jobs than White workers. The job market is also segmented, making it less likely for Black workers to secure stable, well-paying jobs compared to their White counterparts. Despite more access to jobs, outcomes in the labor market, including higher unemployment and fewer good jobs, remain worse for Black workers.

Education Level

Disparities in educational attainment can contribute to financial differences. On average, White Americans tend to have higher levels of educational attainment compared to Black and Hispanic Americans. 

From 2012 to 2022, educational attainment among adults aged 25 and older improved across racial and ethnic groups. The percentage of high school completion increased, with non-Hispanic Whites rising from 92.5% to 95.2%, Blacks from 85% to 90.1%, and Hispanics from 65% to 75.2%. Similarly, the percentage of adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher increased during this period, with non-Hispanic Whites going from 34.5% to 41.8%, Blacks from 21.2% to 27.6%, and Hispanics from 14.5% to 20.9%.


Rates of homeownership also differ among racial and ethnic groups. White households typically have higher rates of homeownership compared to Black and Hispanic households. In 2022, the rate of homeownership was 75 percent for White households, 45 percent for Black households, 48 percent for Hispanic households, and 57 percent for non-Hispanic households of any other race. 

These differences in homeownership rates, similar to the overall racial wealth gaps, have not changed much over the past thirty years. The gap between Black and White homeownership rates was the same in 2020 as it was in 1970, just two years after the Fair Housing Act of 1968 aimed to stop racial discrimination in housing.

Access to Credit

Disparities exist between races in access to credit. Studies suggest that Black and Hispanic individuals may face challenges in obtaining loans or credit on terms as favorable as those offered to White individuals. In a survey by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies of 1,200 small businesses, before the COVID-19 pandemic, Black business owners had difficulties obtaining capital for business ownership compared to White business owners. 

More than half (58.1%) of Black respondents said they had trouble getting the money they needed. In comparison, less than one-fourth (24.2%) of White and just over one-third (35.8%) of Latino business owners reported having problems getting capital.

Retirement Savings

There are differences in retirement savings and access to employer-sponsored retirement plans. White individuals, on average, may have more substantial retirement savings compared to Black and Hispanic individuals. “65 percent of White families have at least one account compared to just 44 and 28 percent of Black and Hispanic families, respectively,” according to the U.S. Department of the Treasury. 

Acknowledge Your Employees’ Unique Financial Journeys

Delving into the realm of diverse financial journeys involves acknowledging and understanding the distinct challenges individuals face based on their backgrounds and race. 

For business owners or organizations, recognizing the impact of systemic or systematic inequalities on the financial wellness of underrepresented groups is crucial. Embracing diversity goes beyond surface-level inclusion; it requires a deep understanding of the nuanced financial situations that diverse individuals navigate.

Put Your Knowledge & Recognition of Racial Disparities Into Action

Employers can start by recognizing the historical and systemic factors that contribute to financial disparities. This involves understanding how factors like race, gender, and socioeconomic background intersect to create unique challenges. For example, individuals from underrepresented groups may face hurdles in accessing capital, employment opportunities, or quality education, which directly affects their financial well-being.

Offering insights on embracing diversity means actively addressing these nuanced challenges. It involves creating inclusive financial programs that cater to the specific needs of different communities. For instance, a company may develop financial literacy programs tailored to the economic realities of its diverse workforce. A business can implement inclusive hiring practices and financial health programs that consider the unique challenges faced by employees from various backgrounds.

Foster a Safe Environment for Financial Health

It's essential to foster an environment that encourages open conversations about financial struggles without judgment. Acknowledging and dismantling stigmas associated with financial difficulties allows individuals to seek help and guidance. For churches and employers, creating a safe space for people to discuss their financial concerns and providing resources for personalized financial counseling can be impactful.

Mentorship and networking opportunities can contribute to creating a sense of community within your organization. Organizations that have successfully nurtured a supportive environment around financial health often encourage events that create a sense of community and allow people to connect with others like them who have walked the same path successfully to financial health and stability. 

Provide Resources Tailored for Diversity

Explore various resources that can aid your employees in navigating their personal finances. These could include financial literacy workshops, budgeting tools, and personal financial counseling services. We encourage you to tailor these resources to the diverse needs of your employees. Many “one size fits all” programs sound good at a surface level but are not a great fit for many people in the diverse American workforce.

Financially Healthy Workers Increase Productivity and Overall Workplace Health 

Prioritizing financial health in the workplace actually helps the employer just as much as the employees. Stress costs U.S. companies over $300 billion every year, and the biggest cause of employee stress is personal finances.

Financially secure employees have positive impacts on productivity, job satisfaction, and retention. Your commitment to financial health for your employees fits with broader organizational goals of productivity and retaining skilled employees–there are fewer missed days of work and healthier interactions with customers.

In conclusion, diving deeper into the concept of diverse financial journeys requires a commitment to understanding and addressing the diverse challenges faced by individuals, and creating a plan to address them. As Proverbs 21:5 (NIV) says, "The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty." 

By recognizing the impact of systemic inequalities and actively embracing diversity in financial programs and practices, business owners and churches can contribute to creating a more equitable and inclusive financial landscape for their employees, thus creating a productive and happy workplace. 

Crusaders for Change (C4C) provides employee personal finance programs for businesses, churches, and local, state, and federal government organizations. We are a certified woman-owned and minority-owned small business. 

C4C will explore your top employee financial concerns, and we will work with you to label your top priorities and present solutions. Do you want to explore what a workplace personal finance program would look like in your organization? Schedule a free call with us today!


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