Get the latest delivered to your inbox
Privacy Policy

Now Reading

How Principal Champions Financial Equity for Women Every Day

How Principal Champions Financial Equity for Women Every Day

Published 03-10-23

Submitted by Principal Financial Group, Inc.

Two women working on a presentation.

Originally published on principal.Com

The number of women who own small businesses is increasing, making up a total of 1.24 million of employer businesses (those with employees), according to the U.S. Census Bureau. 

And women are hungry for financial education: Investing is the second most popular topic among female customers of Principal®.1

So why do women still face worse financial outcomes than men in both the marketplace and the workplace?

Our research shows that women report they have less access to financial products, tools, services, and safeguards than men.2 This disparity in access extends to female-led businesses seeking capital to start or grow their enterprises.3

Principal can help.

Advancing financial inclusion for women globally 

Before someone can find a sense of financial security, they must first be included in the system.

With this in mind, we are taking action to help ensure women have an equitable opportunity to succeed by removing barriers and providing financial tools they need to succeed—particularly when starting and running a business.

In 2020, we committed to doubling the number of businesses we support owned by women and people of color, by 2025. We’re making meaningful progress toward this goal:

  • Principal provides capital to fuel growth for women-owned businesses as a First Women’s Bank Mission Partner.
  • In Singapore, Aidha, a Principal® Foundation grantee, provides financial education and skill-building to migrant domestic workers and lower-income women.
  • With support from Principal Foundation, FreeFrom builds an ecosystem of support to intimate partner violence survivors. By providing basic needs, access to capital, and professional skill-building through Gifted, their social enterprise, FreeFrom removes financial security barriers unique to survivors.

Principal also helps customers improve financial wellness through useful products and resources, personalized information, and tailored education—including webinars specific to women’s financial challenges and goals.

“If the problems are varied and systemic, the chasm can feel unbridgeable,” says Jo Christine Miles, director of community relations and Principal® Foundation. “But it’s not. Policy changes, combined with focused, innovative, capacity-building programs, and expanded access to capital could help more women-owned small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs thrive.”

Fostering a deep sense of belonging among women in the workplace

Driving change, of course, starts with core values and aligning employer practices.

In 2022, we conducted a global pay equity study with a third party focused on race and gender. The results: Our management of pay equity ranks best in class among financial services companies reporting pay equity data. We also require all leaders to take unconscious bias training and apply their learnings in everyday decision-making.

Additionally, this is our third year on the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index (GEI), which measures companies on key factors including leadership and talent pipeline, equal pay and gender pay parity, inclusive culture, anti-sexual harassment policies, and external brand. Of the 153 financial companies evaluated for their work in 2022, we scored higher in seven out of eight categories.

“These are just a few examples of how we’ve continued to reinforce a culture of inclusion at Principal,” says Miriam Lewis, chief inclusion officer for Principal. “It’s feeling you can be your authentic self while at work. When you have that, you have the license to bring your ideas to the table and can focus on the business itself—because you’re not thinking about covering up. You’re thinking about financial security for all.”

That deep sense of belonging is something women at Principal can tap further into as part of the Global Women’s employee resource group (ERG)—providing opportunities to connect, develop, empower, and support one another across departments and countries. This newly launched group brings together existing women-focused initiatives and groups under one umbrella to provide greater, unified support and development for women at Principal. The Global Women’s ERG kicked off in 2023 through a virtual event in celebration of International Women’s Day, March 8.

Empowering more women at Principal
Women make up 54% of our global workforce and 46% of our leadership.4

And when employees need more specific support, they can also access one of six niche women’s networks which are supported through the Global Women’s ERG such as Women in Technology, Women in Sales, and EnablHER (Women in India).

Women in LatAm, one of the newest networks, focuses on developing women employees in Latin America while providing tools and resources to promote a more inclusive culture. Since their inception in 2021, they’ve increased the number of job vacancies filled by women by 6% and the percentage of women in executive leadership positions from 36% to 38%.

“Bias, attitudes, and beliefs are the main barriers to female professional development,” says Marcela Blaquier, LatAm Strategy and Project Manager for Principal who co-leads the group. “Raising awareness about shared behaviors is a necessary first step toward making change.”

Ultimately, our global practice of including women in everything we do is helping us reach our highest potential as a company.

“That’s how we get the best out of every employee,” Lewis says. “Varying backgrounds and perspectives lead to innovations and better outcomes and solutions for our valued customers.”

Learn more about our commitment to inclusion at Principal.

1 2022 Principal Sustainability Report

2 2022 Global Financial Inclusion Index

3 “21st Century Barriers to Women’s Entrepreneurship,” Majority Report of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship

4 As of Dec. 31, 2022

Principal Financial Group Foundation, Inc. ("Principal® Foundation") is a duly recognized 501(c)(3) entity focused on providing philanthropic support to programs that build financial security in the communities where Principal Financial Group, Inc. ("Principal") operates. While Principal Foundation receives funding from Principal, Principal Foundation is a distinct, independent, charitable entity. Principal Foundation does not practice any form of investment advisory services and is not authorized to do so.

© 2023 Principal Foundation.

Insurance products issued by Principal National Life Insurance Co (except in NY) and Principal Life Insurance Company®. Plan administrative services offered by Principal Life. Principal Funds, Inc. is distributed by Principal Funds Distributor, Inc. Securities offered through Principal Securities, Inc., member SIPC and/or independent broker/dealers. Referenced companies are members of the Principal Financial Group®, Des Moines, IA 50392.​ ©2023 Principal Financial Services, Inc.


Principal Financial Group, Inc. logo

Principal Financial Group, Inc.

Principal Financial Group, Inc.

Principal Financial Group® (Nasdaq: PFG) is a global financial company with 18,500 employees1 passionate about improving the wealth and well-being of people and businesses. In business for more than 140 years, we’re helping more than 51 million customers1 plan, protect, invest, and retire, while working to support the communities where we do business, and build a diverse, inclusive workforce. Principal® is proud to be recognized as one of America’s 100 Most Sustainable Companies2, a member of the Bloomberg Gender Equality Index, and a Top 10 “Best Places to Work in Money Management3.” Learn more about Principal and our commitment to building a better future at

More from Principal Financial Group, Inc.

Join today and get the latest delivered to your inbox