BLOG: Being a female pension trustee

Written by Natalie Tuck

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, 2020 Trustees’ Naomi L’Estrange talks about her experience as a pensions trustee, and encourages other women to think about becoming one.

Pension trustee boards need volunteers of all kinds, says L’Estrange, but especially those who can bring a different view point.

“If you are a woman who is a member of an employer’s pension scheme, do think about standing as a pension trustee. The responsibility is significant, but there is lots of support available and an inquiring mind is more important than specific knowledge – you will pick up the (horrendous) jargon soon enough.”

“The member nominated role is unlikely to be paid more than expenses, but is highly rewarding in other ways and great for your CV,” she notes.

Alternatively, she believes that for a woman with pensions/investment expertise, and strong communication skills, then professional trusteeship can provide that holy grail. Research also suggests that pension trusteeship is one of the very few areas with a reverse gender pay gap – because a higher proportion of the (few) women involved are being paid to do it”.

“A role where you can use your knowledge and experience to make a real difference, great variety - working with lots of different people, the challenge of balancing the protection of members with what can be an existential threat for sponsoring businesses, and (last but for many of us not least) options for flexible/part time working.”

Whatever, type of trustee route you go down, L’Estrange says that being a great trustee involves open, pragmatic and constructive communication which women can excel at.

L’Estrange adds that pensions is male dominated, and pension trusteeship even more so. She has sometimes looked around at conferences and 95 per cent of those in the room are white men aged over sixty.

“In the past I sometimes felt boards were only looking for those who fit that identikit mould, but things are changing. Today I am more likely to find that panels are actively looking for diversity (of all characteristics) and in practice being different makes you stand out,” she concludes.

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