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Sallie Krawcheck’s startup pivots beyond investing

June 25, 2020, 12:26 PM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! A wave of LGBTQ discrimination litigation may be on the horizon, a race car driver earns a posthumous record, and Sallie Krawcheck’s Ellevest pivots. Have a thoughtful Thursday. 

– Bridging the wealth gap? Today’s guest essay comes from Fortune senior writer Maria Aspan:

By now we have depressingly thorough evidence that the pandemic has eroded women’s already-shaky financial footing. Women are losing their jobs at a steeper rate, and facing more pressure to give up employment for childcare responsibilities. The economic situation is even worse for black and Latina women, who are also disproportionately affected by the health toll of COVID-19.

“Women have gone backwards during the pandemic,” as Sallie Krawcheck, the CEO and cofounder of women-focused financial startup Ellevest, told me this week.

Not that we were doing so great to begin with. Even before the pandemic, women on average were earning 82 cents for every dollar paid to a man, with black and Latina women making significantly less. Krawcheck, a former senior Wall Street executive, is even more worried about the gender wealth gap—the 32 cents that women have for every dollar owned by a man. In these terms, “wealth” is practically nonexistent for black and Latina women, who own a penny for every male dollar.

It’s a gap Krawcheck has been trying to address since cofounding Ellevest as a digital investment firm in 2014. “Our reason for being is to get more money in the hands of women,” she says. “And part of that mission is, ‘Who needs us?’ It’s people who in many cases aren’t ready to invest.”

Now her company wants to make those women into customers. Ellevest is pivoting away from its wealth-management roots to a membership-fee business model, one that also provides debit cards, savings accounts, and financial advice to customers who might not have enough money, or financial security, to care about what the stock market did yesterday.

As Krawcheck points out, that’s a relatively privileged worry: “A woman who’s investing means she’s paid off her credit card debt, she’s built her emergency fund, and she’s investing in her 401k. That’s a pretty high hurdle.”

The pivot, which Ellevest starting planning last year but accelerated after the pandemic’s onset, will also increase the competition it faces from other financial startups with similar models. Now Krawcheck is betting that this broader approach will both hasten her startup’s path to profitability and benefit other women, even as the pandemic and its resulting economic fallout add to the many obstacles facing our financial health.

Read the full story here.

Maria Aspan
maria.aspan@fortune.com
@mariaaspan

Today’s Broadsheet was curated by Emma Hinchliffe

ALSO IN THE HEADLINES

- LGBTQ litigation. After the landmark Supreme Court ruling that LGBTQ employees are protected by federal nondiscrimination law, transgender workers, now for the first time able to cite those protections, are filing suit against employers. Experts expect a wave of litigation in the coming months. Washington Post

- A tragic record. In 2019, race car driver Jessi Combs died in a crash while attempting to become the fastest female land-speed record holder. Guinness World Records this week posthumously awarded Combs with the fastest woman on Earth title for her 522.783 miles-per-hour record, set during the event where she crashed. CNN

- Decision time. Judge—and Trump appointee—Neomi Rao yesterday issued a controversial decision. Rao's opinion allows her court to intervene, blocking the trial judge presiding over the Justice Department's dropped case against Trump associate Michael Flynn, from hearing further arguments against Flynn. Vox

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Telemundo promoted Karen Barroeta to EVP of production and development for Telemundo Global Studios; Claudia Chagui will succeed Barroeta as SVP of marketing and creative. John Lewis appointed Co-op Group deputy CEO Pippa Wicks as executive director of the department store chain. The New York Times promoted Ashley Southall to police bureau chief. Girls in Tech added to its board of directors ActOne Group CEO Janice Bryant Howroyd, Guideware Software's Laura Drabik, and Twitter VP of diversity partnership strategy and engagement Candi Castleberry Singleton.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

- Oil field talk. A former field engineer for Schlumberger, the world's biggest oil services provider, filed a $100 million sexual harassment lawsuit against the company. The engineer, Sara Saidman, says that her employer did not protect women working in these environments and dismissed complaints as "just oil field talk." Schlumberger did not comment and said it hadn't yet been served with the suit. Houston Chronicle

- From 'tough on crime' to BLM. Suburban white women were a driving force behind the growth of "tough on crime politics." But now, many members of the often-discussed political demographic are showing up at Black Lives Matter protests against police violence. Some who voted for President Trump in 2016 are turning against him—but the bloc may be unlikely to fully support reform efforts like defunding the police. Mother Jones

- Second time around. When women spoke out about the sexist culture in gaming in 2014, their statements led to the harassment and backlash known as Gamergate. But women over the past several days again began speaking out about harassment in the field, and so far have been met with reflection and action. New York Times

ON MY RADAR

Don't call AOC a fluke The Cut

How I get it done: Rep. Ilhan Omar The Cut

What will happen to India's wedding industry after lockdown? Vogue Business

PARTING WORDS

"When we say we’re committed to diversity, it’s diverse from what? We’re still centering whiteness as the most important thing." 

-Actor Kerry Washington