13th Jun 2018

Pension sector needs more diversity

This year Professional Pensions is hosting the inaugural Women in Pensions Awards.  Set up to celebrate and recognise women in a sector where they are currently under-represented, the organisers hope the awards will spotlight the work of inspirational and groundbreaking women.

More than half of the 2020 Trustees team is female but the pensions industry is not often the first career choice for women, or indeed men, and I believe that more should be done to promote the sector as a career choice in schools and colleges.

My own route to becoming a Trustee Director came via studying law and then becoming a pensions lawyer.  A secondment to Government designing the powers later used against Sir Philip Green led me to the Pension Protection Fund as Director of Legal before ultimately joining 2020 Trustees as a Trustee Director.

The pension sector is wide and varied and I think really interesting.  This is a role where you can use your knowledge and experience to make a real difference.  The role offers great variety – working with lots of different people, the challenge of balancing the protection of members with what can be an existential threat for sponsoring businesses, and (last but for many of us, not least) options for flexible/part time working.

Research also suggests that pension trusteeship is one of the very few areas with a reverse gender pay gap – because a higher proportion of the (few) women involved are being paid well to do it – so it can be a lucrative career.

While currently the pensions industry is male dominated – I sometimes look around at conferences and 95 per cent of those in the room are white men in their mid 50’s and above – I do believe things are changing and the industry is actively looking to encourage more diversity.

When it comes to career choices, pensions may not be sexy but this sector can offer a great deal in terms of pay, terms and conditions and support. We can’t go on asking the companies whose schemes we support to have a diverse board when the broader pensions industry as a whole is dominated by men.

Things have to change and the Women in Pensions Award will no doubt play a part in introducing more women to the sector.

** Naomi has been shortlisted as a finalist as a Trustee of the Year in the Women in Pensions Awards 2018.  Results will be announced on June 26th.