On Tuesday, Secret Deodorant introduced a multi-year initiative to provide 1 million women with access to financial courses and training resources.
The initiative was unveiled on Tuesday at the New York Stock Exchange during the brand’s “Young Women’s Financial Wellness Forum.” The event was hosted in partnership with Seneca Women, a women’s leadership platform dedicated to advancing women in finance and worldwide. The digital initiative is housed on a Secret.com landing page, which includes access to foundational tools such as financial courses and literature, budgeting apps, and advisory for women at the start of their independent financial journey. April is also known as Financial Literacy Month.
“We’ve spent a lot of time [as a brand] talking about equal representation. This is just another way for us to help enable women to improve their financial well-being in the journey to [gender and racial] equality,” said Kate DiCarlo, senior communications director of Secret Deodorant. “While this has been an issue that’s been bubbling for decades, the external [economic] environment is likely playing a role in heightening the stress that many of these women are experiencing.”
Such economic issues are globally pervasive, including wage stagnation in the U.S. and a cost-of-living crisis in the U.K. In France, opposition to the new official retirement age led to hundreds of thousands of protestors over the past ten days. The retirement age was raised from age 62 to 64, due to government pension expenses, but that butts up against French culture and the idea that life begins once a person enters retirement. P&G-owned Secret is sold in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.
Secret’s initiative is geared mostly toward Gen Zers, especially BIPOC women, who are at the start of their careers and want to understand personal finance. Such an initiative could not arrive at a more perilous time for young people’s financial health and mental well-being. A survey commissioned by NerdWallet and conducted online by The Harris Poll found 41% of Gen Zers feel anxious about their finances. Another 40% feel nervous or confused about their finances, and another 30% feel self-conscious about their financial situation. Additionally, 30% have credit card debt, and 27% have student loan debt.
A recent New York Times Opinion poll asked 12 kids between ages 11-14 what being a youth in America means to them. And suffice it to say, money worries permeate even children not yet legally eligible for part-time work. For example, one 13-year-old said, “I’m scared of failing in whatever my job is and not having money,” while another 14-year-old said, “I’m scared about finances. You have to pay for college and then a house. There’s just a lot of expenses.” Anxieties do not improve substantially as one enters the full-time job market, either. According to Bloomberg, the pandemic housing boom has given way to higher mortgage rates and tight inventory, further squeezing entry-level house hunters. Even Vogue recently postured whether or not having children is considered a luxury due to the expenses incurred like medical bills and child care; the story cited the estimate that it costs an average of $310,000 to raise a child until age 17.
“[Secret’s aims] are twofold. It’s about making women feel that they have a champion who will support them, who understands them and the challenges they are facing, and who is here to help provide the support they need,” said DiCarlo. “It’s also about making sure that we’re making a difference in these women’s lives by giving them the resources that can make a tangible impact.”
DiCarlo declined to share exact investment figures into the initiative but said Secret wants to reach 1 million women within one year, with opportunities for additional iterations in the next several years. Secret’s website also states that, by 2030, the brand will “empower millions” of young women to tackle financial stress and improve their financial wellness. Other brands have done similar economic- and prosperity-focused programs. In 2021, SheaMoisture launched the grant program Next Black Millionaire to support Black entrepreneurs and conduct a study on the racial wealth gap.
Secret’s panel of financial experts includes Carmen Perez, creator of the Much budgeting app; Marsha Barnes, CEO and founder of The Finance Bar Members Club; and Berna Anat, a financial educator and author of “Money Out Loud: All the Financial Stuff No One Taught Us.”
“I understand how imperative it is to be well-versed in finances. From understanding how to get your first credit card and student loans, to how to apply for a mortgage and deal with debt, it’s a lot to take in,” said Barnes. “Partnering with Secret allows me to extend a helping hand to more women in need.”
The initiative will be promoted on social media to reach young women through the #SecretMoneyMoves hashtag. Content will include a series of financial literacy social posts on Instagram and TikTok that address prominent financial questions, like how to create a budget, negotiate your first salary and understand your credit score. Initiative partners like Seneca Women, non-profit Prosperity Now and The Finance Bar Members Club will also cross-promote on social. In addition, DiCarlo said there will be retailer participation, with the initiative featured in-store, but she declined to provide details.
“We’ll continue to look for ways to further commercialize the stories of the women who are impacted by the resources we’re providing and to further partner with our financial experts,” said DiCarlo. “We want to make sure this content is in service of the financial education and financial literacy of women, and to make sure it is truly useful [rather than brand-focused].”