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PLSA launches diversity initiative for pensions industry

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The Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) has launched a new campaign, Breaking the Mirror Image, which aims to encourage greater diversity on trustee boards.

A wide variety of studies have shown that a broad range of experience and perspectives is the best defence against “group think”. It is crucial that trustee boards are diverse to ensure decisions are made in the best interest of savers.
 
Research has shown that the pensions industry has some way to go when it comes to diversity. Looking at gender alone, the make-up of governance boards is 83 per cent male. The PLSA wants this to change. 
 
The campaign will begin by looking at gender diversity and broaden to include other forms of diversity in the future.
 
Pensions Minister Richard Harrington says: “As Pensions Minister I am determined to see greater gender balance in the financial sector and welcome this initiative and practical support for companies from the PLSA.
 
“A balanced workforce is good for businesses, their workplace culture and for investors. Firms with a good gender balance in senior positions and across teams perform better, and therefore attract the best talent.”
 
Lesley Williams (pictured), chair, Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association, says: “Having made it to chair of the PLSA, this new initiative is really important to me, personally. We’ve been interested in diversity on corporate boards for some time through our corporate governance work; but with an increasing political and social focus on diversity this is the right time for the association to stimulate and support diversity in our own industry.
 
“Our campaign begins by looking at gender diversity, but there are many elements to consider if we want truly representative and diverse trustee boards – gender, race, age, disability, sexual orientation, and social class.”
 
Chris Hitchen, Railways Pension Trustee Company Limited, says: “Cognitive diversity is vital for the strategic thinking we need from companies and investing organisations in order to pay pensions securely, affordably and sustainably into the far future. This is why I’m pleased to be part of the new initiative from the PLSA.”
 
Lesley Titcomb, Chief Executive, The Pensions Regulator, says: “I am very pleased to offer TPR’s support to the PLSA’s new initiative. Good governance is the foundation of a well-run pension scheme, and diverse trustee boards can help deliver this. One of our key priorities is to improve governance of pension schemes so they deliver good member outcomes.”
 
Helena Morrissey CBE, Chair Of The Investment Association and The Diversity Project, says: “Diversity of thought and experience among decision-makers is critical in today's complex and uncertain world, and that means broadening the range of perspectives in our discussions. As we do that, we will create more modern and progressive companies and better connections with all our customers and society. I'm thrilled to see this PLSA initiative being launched, adding to the momentum towards developing more diverse, more inclusive cultures within the investment and savings professions.”

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