Greater diversity in the industry can improve decision-making and help with attracting and retaining talent but few schemes have diversity and inclusion plans in place, Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) research reveals.
In a survey conducted among 57 trustees and trustee representatives between 18 November and 4 December, the trade association found the vast majority (84%) of respondents agreed with the assertion, with most believing it will also best represent members' interests.
Of those surveyed, 91% agreed it would improve decision-making and attract and retain talent while 89% agreed that diversity could improve the representation of members' interests.
However, there were mixed views as to views on how diverse trustee boards currently were, with only just over a quarter (28%) saying it was good; 35% saying it was average and 31% believing it to be poor.
The survey found that age, gender and social background are currently seen to be better represented, while disability and ethnicity are perceived to be least well represented, with many saying they are not at all well represented.
Even amongst the better represented groups (such as gender) a substantial number feel that they were not very well (28%) or not at all (10%) represented.
The majority of respondents (65%) believe the make up of trustee boards need to be more diverse - with many saying it will help them to innovate (82%) and more closely reflect their membership (64%).
Despite this, almost half (48%) of respondents said they have no specific strategic objectives around diversity and/or inclusion and only 12% had a plan in place (12%). Among those with no plan in place, the vast majority do not know when they will put a plan in place. A quarter have strategic objectives in place, with recruitment and training being the main focus.
PLSA chief executive Julian Mund said: "Our survey shows that the pensions industry recognises that it needs to do much more to improve diversity and inclusion and are positive about the benefits for schemes and members of doing so - but there's a long way still to go.
"It's vital that pension schemes have the right people in place throughout the organisation and to do that you need a wide range of skills, backgrounds and outlooks to ensure all members interests are at the heart of decision-making processes."
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