Empowering our Community: Introducing the SHARE Series
At Betterment, we’re devoted to helping our customers invest in their future and prepare for what lies ahead.
But, our focus on investing goes beyond our sophisticated portfolio strategies and technology. We’re committed to investing in our team and community, too.
We recognize that we’re uniquely positioned within the financial services industry to create a space for people of all backgrounds to come together, share their perspectives, and build valuable connections. We’re proud to be part of the New York City technology community, and supporting the diverse network of talent in our city is something that motivates us every day.
In particular, we’ve seen firsthand the impact that women have on the technology and financial services industries. Women across every department at Betterment bring diverse perspectives, skills, and experiences to the table, which help drive our product and our mission forward.
With this in mind, we were inspired to create a new kind of platform to bring women in the New York City technology community together to learn, lead, and grow: the SHARE Series.
SHARE, A New Community Of Women In Tech
The SHARE (Support, Hire, Aspire, Relate, Empower) Series aims to build a network of diverse individuals and foster deeper connections among women in our community. Through the SHARE Series, we hope to empower future leaders in our industry to reach their goals and gain important professional expertise and connections. While the series focuses on programming for women and those who identify as women, it is inclusive to everyone in our community who wish to be allies and support our mission.
According to Emily Knutsen, a member of the People team at Betterment and the coordinator of the SHARE Series, the idea for the initiative was inspired by our team’s desire to create a dedicated space for women-focused conversations to flourish.
“We had a hunch, and lessons from our own experience, telling us that we needed a space to connect and learn from one another. We wanted to approach it in a practical way by creating a place to come and learn and leave with a friendship, connection, or a piece of knowledge that was immediately useful,” Knutsen said. “We’ve seen in the response from attendees that our hunch was right, and we’ve been able to create space for our community to grow through sharing with one another.”
Tackling the topics that matter.
We’re passionate about SHARE’s mission, and recognize that we can make an even greater impact if we partner with like-minded organizations. That’s why we worked closely with New York Women in Communications (NYWICI), a non-profit organization devoted to empowering women at every stage of their career, to bring our most recent SHARE Series event to life.
On February 6, we hosted a panel and series of roundtable discussions at Betterment HQ. We were proud to have two of our team members represent Betterment alongside our other esteemed guest speakers.
Amy Ouellette, Director of Retirement Services for Betterment for Business, and Corbin Blackwell, a Financial Planner at Betterment, joined Jenn Monahan, a Level 3 Trainer at The Financial Gym, and Chloe McKenzie, Founder, CEO, and President of BlackFem, to discuss personal finance topics and answer questions from our attendees about investing, handling debt, and planning for retirement.
Our speakers kicked off the event with a short panel discussion, sharing what brought them to the financial services industry, and revealing some lessons they’ve learned along the way.
All of the speakers highlighted the danger of comparing your own financial circumstances and experiences to someone else’s, as it’s hard to see the full picture, and finances are extremely personal. “You don’t know what someone else’s wealth is. You don’t know what they’re putting on their credit card,” Blackwell said.
Setting thoughtful goals for your financial wellness.
After the panel, attendees and speakers divided into small groups to discuss personal finance topics in more detail. These intimate breakout sessions fostered an openness that encouraged attendees to share their questions and personal stories with their groups.
Many of the discussions centered around the importance of setting specific financial goals and creating a plan for saving and tackling debt. “Having a plan is the first step. Having a goal in mind, and focusing on how you’re going to get there is half the battle,” Ouellette said. She also suggested that attendees should carefully consider which financial planning and budgeting tools make the most sense for their unique situations and goals.
Jenn Monahan encouraged the group to have a “thoughtful conversation” with themselves about their immediate and long-term goals, and then put the appropriate accounts and systems in place to ensure that they’re able to access their money at the right times.
Financial goal-setting and developing career goals often go hand in hand. Chloe McKenzie coached attendees on ways to feel empowered in the workplace, and suggested thinking about more than just salary during negotiations. She noted that employers have a responsibility to help close the wealth gap, and that certain benefits, like a 401(k) and insurance, are things that employees can consider assets. Those things, in addition to a fair salary, can help increase their overall net worth.
Highlighting the effects of wealth inequality during those crucial conversations at work can help pay it forward for the next person going into the negotiation, McKenzie said.
How To Get Involved In 2019
As the SHARE Series continues throughout 2019, we plan to develop programming around women’s entrepreneurship and startups, career growth and development, and much more. Our next event on March 26 will feature a talk with author and CBS Business Analyst Jill Schlesinger about her new book.
Chelsea Orcutt, a former Betterment employee and participant in the SHARE series, contributed to this article.