How Financially Empowering Women Transforms Communities
Kim Allman explains how supporting women’s financial wellness creates far-reaching change
Women are a powerful financial force. And at Capital One, we are committed to supporting women’s financial well-being and empowerment.
We sat down with Kim Allman, National Financial Well-Being Design Lead and Senior Director, Community Impact & Investment at Capital One, as part of our celebration of Women’s History Month. Our goal was to uncover the unique financial impact women make on their communities, and to learn about Capital One’s approach to supporting women’s financial health.
Defining Financial Well-Being
“The core of financial well-being is about being able to meet financial obligations and feel secure,” Allman says. “It’s about being able to earn sufficient income, build savings for the short term and long term, manage credit and debt, being able to handle things life may throw at you and to plan for the future.”
Helping people thrive financially is central to Capital One’s mission to change banking for good, Allman says. “At Capital One, we believe we are stewards of financial well-being. Our goal is to build tools and programs that empower people to take action and to improve the financial well-being of our customers and communities.”
Why Focus on Women’s Financial Health?
"When we invest in women, we invest in everyone — including children, businesses and our communities,” Allman says. “The impact of our investment is exponential.”
According to the United Nations, supporting women’s financial well-being has a cascading impact on communities: When women are granted access to income and financial tools, they’re more likely to have healthy families. When families are healthy, more children have access to education. Those better-educated children grow up and become community leaders.
As Allman says, “We are leaving resources for growth, development and advancement on the table if we don’t ensure that we are providing women with the support they need to build their financial wellness.”
Tools and Partnerships to Foster Women’s Financial Well-Being
While many of the principles of financial well-being are universal, what financial health ultimately looks like will depend on the unique life and individual goals of each woman: A young mother in Chicago has very different financial needs than a retired woman in Miami, for example. Each is in a different situation, with different expenses, savings needs and income levels.
So Capital One creates educational programs that focus on encouraging women to establish their own goals and create effective financial strategies to reach them, making a plan and anticipating potential roadblocks on their financial journeys.
Capital One also supports community partners who have a deep understanding of the needs of the people they serve and can meet women where they are. “We look to bring additional resources and partnerships to the table to strengthen their work,” Allman says.
For example, we’ve worked with Dress For Success since 2006, helping them to empower women to achieve economic independence through a network of support, professional attire and development tools to thrive. Through this collaboration, Capital One provides a six-week course for Dress for Success clients. At each session Capital One Café Ambassadors and Market Community Engagement Leads provide a financial education curriculum focused on personal finance, managing income, building independence, planning for the future, financial health and online banking and safety. The course is focused on strategies for financial independence so that women can better support their families and communities.
We also recently provided a $250,000 grant to support a partnership with SaverLife, a nonprofit that helps folks build financial security, and Dress for Success. In partnership with SaverLife, Dress for Success participants from 15 markets have the opportunity to enroll in SaverLife alongside their financial education curriculum. Each participant will receive a $50 savings boost when they enroll, with $200 in matched savings available to earn.
“We are proud to make connections and build synergies that can connect more women to resources that will help them build their financial well-being,” she continues.
This work is part of the recently announced Capital One Impact Initiative, a $200-million commitment to advocating for an inclusive society, building thriving communities and creating financial tools that enrich lives.
Removing Barriers To Financial Well-Being for Women
“While we want to help people build, we also have to take into account how we can remove barriers and how we can provide the needed tools and resources to help support women,” Allman says. This includes looking at what’s holding some women back and finding ways to work with them to overcome these challenges. Capital One has done this by teaming up with organizations like LIFT, dedicated to helping families break the cycle of poverty, and Safe Horizon, whose work has empowered victims of abuse to find safety, support and connection, to provide a variety of financial educational workshops, classes and one-on-one support to the women they serve.
“We also know that systemic racism has an impact here and is a large barrier to socioeconomic mobility for women of color, and we will ensure that we are looking at things through a lens of racial justice and seeking to have an impact on the barriers that women of color face.”
"Capital One will continue to support our community partners in a way that allows them to be most responsive to the needs of the women they serve," she says.
And that will help communities thrive.