Is the pensions industry doing enough on ethnic diversity?

Jonathan Stapleton
clock • 2 min read

The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis at the end of last month has prompted a huge wave of protest and soul-searching across the world.

Big companies have, as the Financial Times notes in its leader on the issue today, rushed out messages saying that they, too, believe black lives matter. Those messages have been met with an understandably cynical response, with critics pointing to the near-complete absence of black people at the top of large corporates and the longstanding relative underrepresentation of the African-American population.

But while the underrepresentation of ethnic minorities is a concern in corporate America, should it be more of a concern for the UK pensions industry too?

As an industry, we have few black, Asian and minority ethnic leaders and trustees, despite such groups making up around 11% of the UK population as a whole. Perhaps because of this, only a very small number of people from BAME backgrounds make up the boards and committees of our trade and professional bodies or speak at our industry events.

There is of course, some excellent work going on across the industry on diversity - not least by The Diversity Project, a group set up by leaders in the investment and savings profession in 2016 - and many organisations within the industry have a genuine commitment to solve some of the challenges faced in this area.

Discussing some of the issues affecting BAME individuals face and highlighting the structural obstacles they still face today will also help - as will demonstrating our support to each other.

But how to do this? One initiative that could help is the #IAM social media campaign which has just been launched to help raise awareness of some of these issues - and The Diversity Project is holding a virtual event on Wednesday (10 June) to help us find more about both its campaign and practical ways in which we can make a difference.

These are small steps, but hopefully they will help us move towards having a truly inclusive culture within our industry.

Jonathan Stapleton is editor of Professional Pensions

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