COVID showed why we need to make financial literacy a national priority

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to upend our lives, Americans are facing issues they couldn’t have imagined even months ago. What started as a health threat quickly morphed into something much bigger, not just impacting our physical well-being but also wreaking havoc on our financial health as well.

Tragically, those who were most vulnerable to begin with have been hit the hardest. Many in marginalized communities who were struggling before the pandemic are now bearing the brunt of the pain. And as our nation reckons with questions of social injustice, it’s clear that too many Americans have been left out and let down.

Our country’s lack of financial literacy has contributed to this crisis—and now, as so many Americans face unprecedented financial stress, we must make financial literacy a national priority. 

Increasingly, Americans agree. In fact, two-thirds of Americans believe that financial education should be a high school graduation requirement. When our survey respondents reflect on their own lives, the majority wish that they had been better about saving, goal setting, and investing.

Looking beyond themselves, they overwhelmingly (89%) believe that a lack of financial education contributes to bigger social issues in America, including poverty, lack of job opportunities, and wealth inequality. When asked what they would teach future generations, the majority would still prioritize teaching personal finance basics, ranking responsible money management as the most important life skill for kids today to learn.

At the same time, there’s a common misconception that financial literacy is only for kids. And while it’s ideal to start educating our youth about money at an early age, the truth is that the learning can’t stop there. All of us, regardless of our age, race, ethnic background, gender, or educational level, need to know how to effectively manage our money. It’s part of being an independent and secure adult—whether you’re 21 and just starting out on your own, 30 and starting a family, or 65 and looking forward to retirement.

The need is especially great for women and minorities, who continue to face unique challenges at home and in the workplace. For the most vulnerable segments of our society, financial literacy can be a life-changer—impacting everything from getting a college education, to supporting a family, to following a chosen career, to starting a business. At the macro level,

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Amazon debuted a long list of products today. Here are 3 standouts

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Amazon introduced several new products on Thursday, ranging from upgraded versions of its flagship Echo Internet-connected speakers to an indoor surveillance drone.

The online retail giant’s unveilings on Thursday underscores Amazon’s self-described “ambient home” strategy. It’s another way of describing the “smart home,” in which household appliances and home entertainment equipment are wirelessly tethered together via the Internet.

For technology giants like Amazon and Google, it’s a potentially lucrative market. In addition to selling the devices themselves, the companies collect data about how people use the devices and what they do in their homes. That information is a marketer’s gold mine that could help the companies better target customers with ads or suggest products they’re likelier to buy. It can also help the companies decide which new services to offer, like music or game streaming.

“The home has always been important, but perhaps it’s never been as important until this COVID crisis,” Amazon senior vice president of Alexa Tom Taylor told Fortune.

At the center of Amazon’s smart home strategy are voice technologies, exemplified by the Alexa voice assistant. Amazon wants customers to control their homes merely by using their voices, including by using  voice-technologies from competitors like Spotify, Facebook, and Garmin.

Increasingly, Amazon is introducing features other than voice-technologies to make more compelling smart-home gear. For instance, Taylor highlighted a new Echo Show video conferencing device that can move around a table to follow people while they talk. Amazon says it makes for more natural online conversations because people don’t have to sit still.

Here are some other products Amazon debuted.

Amazon’s new surveillance drone

Amazon’s new Ring Always Home Cam is a camera-equipped drone that flies inside homes, like a security camera with propellers. 

The company pitched the drone, which costs $250 and will ship sometime next year, as a way for people to see what’s happening everywhere in their homes without having to buy and install several surveillance cameras.

In effort to reduce privacy concerns, Amazon said the drone’s cameras will only record when flying. Additionall

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Corporate leaders strive to make allyship a real thing at work

It has been a momentous year for tackling issues of social justice in the workplace—one that has seen many who are not directly impacted by racial and gender inequality look to step up to the plate as allies to the cause.

But being an ally is easier said than done, and Fortune gathered a group of women well-versed in what it should mean and what it should look like to kick off the virtual, 2020 edition of the Most Powerful Women Summit on Thursday.

“Being a good ally is about taking concrete steps to turn your good intentions into actions,” Carin Taylor, chief diversity officer at Workday, said in her introductory remarks for the panel, entitled “Allyship and Accountability: It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint.” Allyship, Taylor added, is about “taking a stand for those who may have a smaller voice” in a given organization and “driving equity for everyone.”

The three panelists, moderated by Fortune senior editor Ellen McGirt, further expounded on that idea and what good allyship entails, in a corporate environment and beyond. As Lindsay-Rae McIntyre, corporate vice president and chief diversity officer at Microsoft, noted, “there’s no amount of empathy and proximity that substitutes for lived experience”—which makes the task of being an ally all the more difficult for those who’ve never directly experienced race- or gender-based discrimination.

McIntyre stressed that it’s important to recognize allyship as “a behavior” and “something we work on every day” in the workplace, rather than “something performative” that people can claim to support without the actions to back it up.

Barbara Whye, chief diversity and inclusion officer and corporate vice president of social impact at Intel, echoed that sentiment.

“An ally is a partner that’s partnering with you for your good; we want someone that’s listening, that’s empathetic, someone that’s actionable,” Whye said. At the same time, Whye noted, it’s important to recognize that “allies are also discovering things about themselves and their own self-awareness on this journey that they’re on”—with allyship itself an experience that enables those of privilege to better learn and understand the challenges facing others.

At her own company, Whye said they’ve tried to “make sure every team inside Intel has an ally who can ensure peoples’ ideas are being heard, and that there’s a safe environment for people.” And she echoed McIntyre in adding the importanc

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COVID and the flu present a clash of viruses

Good afternoon, readers.

It’s that time of year again. Yes, the time of year when public health experts bug you to get your flu shot.

We all know that the flu shot isn’t perfect. Sure, you may still get influenza after getting your yearly jab. Sure, its effectiveness varies wildly from year to year given that the flu virus mutates.

But the pathogen still kills tens of thousands of people every year—one of the main reasons that those trying to downplay the coronavirus risk have compared that virus to influenza.

This year, however, COVID has already claimed more than 200,000 American lives in a far shorter timeline than what we see from the flu. And as we step towards October, flu season will rear its head again as the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage unabated.

That’s a problem on multiple fronts. For one thing, it might be difficult to distinguish who has the flu and who has COVID. Hospitals may continue to see surging cases of both diseases which can drain their resources. And a country eager to just get back to normal may not be willing to avoid close indoor contact during the holiday season.

Read on for the day’s news, and see you again next week.

Sy Mukherjee
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