A diverse inclusive new world

Following the publication of its Equality Diversity and Inclusion Strategy, Liz Hickey, The Pensions Regulator’s Director of Communications looks forward to what the strategy could achieve for savers and staff by 2025.

Read dystopian novels such as Brave New World or 1984 and you’ll find a future lacking diversity, but full of oppression and exclusion.

We want to be part of building a fairer, better future, working together with industry to make it a reality.

So, imagine it’s 2025, four years on from the publication of our Equality Diversity and Inclusion Strategy developed with organisations from across industry.

The strategy was published as the UK emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic. Restrictions were still in place, so we discussed our strategy virtually.

I told pensions professionals that TPR would:

  • be a fairer, more diverse and more inclusive employer
  • influence the reduction of pension inequality within our regulatory remit
  • promote high standards of equality, diversity and inclusion among our regulated community

We wanted the strategy to be ambitious, significant and inspire change.

I found an industry alive to the pressure for all businesses and employers to be fair and inclusive. We saw strong sign-ups for our webinar discussing next steps as a result.

The pressures didn’t lessen in the months after the launch. COVID’s fallout continued to highlight social inequalities. Automatic enrolment was still driving positive saving trends, but also highlighted the growing diversity among pensions savers and the importance of meeting their varied needs.

The sector proved its dedication with huge progress by the Industry Working Group on diversity. It produced an action plan at the end of its first year. The plan paved the way for a diversity and inclusion resource hub for our regulated community. The hub saw resources and best practice being shared. This contributed to securing TPR’s targets for developing trustee boards more diverse and inclusive than those in 2021.

The pensions sector, including TPR, historically attracted a less diverse talent pool. Today, in our ambitious 2025 world, TPR maintains its strong gender balance at senior leadership level and has improved its black and ethnic minority and LGBT+ representation. Recruiting practices were changed to ensure more diversity among our non-executive directors. Across TPR, remuneration policies have successfully reduced pay gaps for under-represented groups (such as between white colleagues and those from an ethnic minority background, or relating to other factors such as gender, disability and sexual orientation).

Our targets were seen as challenging. But TPR did become more diverse, with a 20% increase in employees from under-represented groups. In 2025, those groups make up 15% of our executive committee and senior leadership team. Our gender pay gap had stood at 6.3% in 2020. In just two years it was 4%.

Our voluntary, employee-led networks flourished. Across TPR, people come together, share ideas, raise awareness of challenges and support each other daily. The networks provide a diversity of employee voices. They offer formal and informal support and drive change.

By 2022 we’d measured our peoples’ experience of inclusion and set benchmarks. Crucially, we acted upon them. We built trust which saw staff were more willing to provide the data we needed to develop policies and practices supporting everyone.

Colleagues now work in an organisation of allies and supporters who speak out against behaviour which doesn’t reflect a commitment to be fully inclusive and value everyone equally.

TPR is thriving as a more diverse and inclusive employer and the pensions industry is doing the same. The industry of 2025 better reflects the savers who trust their retirement pots within it. Savers benefit from the more robust decision making diverse and inclusive boards bring. More diverse schemes found better ways to communicate with their diverse membership and this has boosted pension engagement.

This vision for the future reminds us a more diverse and inclusive pensions industry isn’t just the right thing to do. It underpins good governance and decision-making, and therefore sits at the very heart of achieving good outcomes for savers.

TPR plans to lead by example. But, we need to work with others. We are not perfect. But we plan to learn and develop together with our regulated community so that our collective vision becomes reality.

  • TPR held a webinar on its Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy on Wednesday 21 July, which is available to watch back now.

By Liz Hickey, Director of Communications