For decades, the LGBTQ community has advocated for equal rights and representation. From the pivotal 1969 Stonewall Riots to the historic ruling allowing for same-sex couples to marry in 2015, countless battles have been fought — and many won — but along the way, how often have we considered our financial stability and the resources we’ll need to live comfortably in our later years?
A recent report by The Williams Institute indicates various economic disparities among LGBTQ populations. And while many factors contribute to this data, a newly created digital wellness platform, SAGECents, is helping LGBTQ elders reduce financial stress and rethink how to budget and strategize for the future.
The platform, created in partnership with SAGE and LifeCents and supported by the Wells Fargo Foundation, launched in August 2020, at a critical time when many wondered how they’d cover their monthly expenses, let alone the years ahead.
“The realities of COVID-19 and the related economic fallout have created a whole new set of challenges for LGBTQ elders, whether it’s the reduction or elimination of supplemental retirement income or the need to pay out of pocket for food that is regularly provided by meal programs that are unable to continue operating,” said Executive Vice President of SAGE Lynn Faria. “SAGECents is a way for our LGBTQ elders — particularly Black and Brown members of the community — to access personalized financial guidance and resources from LifeCents that will directly address their unique needs and help build financial confidence and security in the face of COVID-19.”
According to SAGE’s report, “Out and Visible: The Experiences and Attitudes of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Older Adults, Ages 45-75,” our financial concerns are not solely because of the pandemic. Results indicated that nearly half of all LGBTQ older people fear they will outlive the money they save for retirement.
Using easy-to-follow and sensitively composed AI prompts (such as preferred gender), users can set up a SAGECents profile in just a few minutes, after which a dashboard reveals a breadth of resources. Each module breaks down subjects into accessible, interactive topics such as savings, ID theft protection, banking, debt management, and credit reports. The LifeCents Connections portal, accessible through the always-visible taskbar, offers access to real-world solutions, whether the user is simply seeking a weekly check-in from a SAGE volunteer or more detailed financial resources.
While SAGECents can provide important financial resources for LGBTQ elders, SAGE’s Chief Program Officer David Vincent points out that a legacy of marginalization must also be addressed for fundamental changes to occur.
“A lifetime of systemized discrimination has caused severe financial inequities for LGBTQ elders and the community at large,” said Vincent. “You can’t save for retirement or focus on your finances when you’re not getting the job you deserve or the raise or the loan or access to credit because you’re being discriminated against. Only sweeping change, such as enacting the Equality Act, and time, can help change the financial disparities faced by the community.”
Political leaders come and go, but forward-thinking companies like Wells Fargo have been instrumental in advancing equality for the LGBTQ community, dating back 30 years to its first LGBTQ team member group in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. From early financial support and employee involvement in the fight against AIDS to company policies ensuring that every LGBTQ employee feels supported to present as their authentic selves, Wells Fargo’s approach to diversity and inclusion has opened the door for a dynamic and supported workforce. The company, once again, earned a perfect score on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index, a benchmark for benchmarks of LGBTQ-inclusive policies, practices, and benefits.
As for SAGECents, the platform is just one way Wells Fargo continues its commitment and engagement with the LGBTQ community— simultaneously acknowledging our history and looking ahead for the generations who paved the way to ensure the future is both Pride-filled and financially secure.
For more information on Wells Fargo’s resources for diverse communities, visit wellsfargo.com/empowerful.