We must do more to support socio-economic diversity in the pensions industry

Mark Ormston sets out the research NextGen’s is conducting on socio-economic diversity

clock • 3 min read
We must do more to support socio-economic diversity in the pensions industry

The latest of NextGen's monthly columns for Professional Pensions looks at its new research on socio-economic diversity in the pensions industry

It has been a year since The Pensions Regulator published its equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) guidance for pension scheme governing bodies and employers, which aimed to improve the EDI of scheme boards.

Over the last year, we've seen EDI rising up conference agendas and new events emerging, including our very own NextGen conference! We're pleased to see this progress and believe we're finally reaching a place where the value of diversity and inclusion in our industry is being recognised as more and more organisations take real steps to foster inclusive workplaces.

But we can't stop now, just like recognising the importance of diversity in gender, race and disability, understanding the socio-economic diversity within our industry is crucial for identifying opportunities for growth, and promoting equality.

Surveying the financial services, The City of London's 2020 report, Who gets ahead and how? Socio-economic background and career progression in financial services, found that 51% of respondents are from a higher socio-economic background – a proportion, it says, that is higher compared with most elite professions in the UK.

NextGen research

At NextGen, we're firm believers in being proactive in seeking out ways to move the conversation forward, and we believe there needs to be more awareness and action around improving socio-economic diversity in our industry.

We're therefore very excited to share that NextGen's research & insights sub-committee is working on an original piece of research designed to do exactly this.

To further this research, we recently published a short anonymous survey to gather data and insights for our paper, which we aim to launch at this year's NextGen conference.

So, what are we looking to do?

First and foremost, we're looking to assess current levels of socioeconomic diversity in the pensions industry. Also, the extent to which people feel their education and background has influenced the career opportunities on offer to them – and why.

But we're also looking to unpick how much of a difference people think their socioeconomic background has on them in the workplace vs. previous generations, as well as their outlook for those entering the pensions sector in the years to come.

Finally, we'll be finding out how many employers across the industry are collecting data on socioeconomic diversity, plus how this is being used.

Digging into these areas will give us a clear picture of where we're at – including what's being done well and potential pressure points – to help us come up with practical guidance and support to help us all drive positive progress when it comes to socioeconomic diversity.

But as anyone working in pensions will know, data, while incredibly valuable, it not a solution by itself. It is how the data is engaged with – and acted upon – that governs future outcomes.

So please, join us in pushing the conversation forward on this important issue by becoming a NextGen member and engaging with the survey's outputs as they land in your inbox.

Your views and input will contribute to meaningful discussions on how we can collectively strive for a more equitable future.

Mark Ormston is chair of the research & insights committee at NextGen Pensions and director of propositions & corporate partnershipsRetirement Line

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