Female trustee representation dips as gender pay gap narrows

There is “no evidence” of any positive movement in terms of female trustee board diversity following a dip in female trustee chair representation, according to the latest Barnett Waddingham and Winmark Pension Chair Remuneration Report

The report revealed a negative trend in female representation on trustee boards, with only 14 per cent of respondents women, a 4 per cent fall compared to 2019,

This is despite 40 per cent of schemes stating that they have taken “active steps” to increase diversity in the past 12 months, with chairs citing a lack of candidates coming forward as the main barrier to increasing diversity.

There was however an awareness as to the need for more diversity, with the majority (63 per cent) of respondents stating that trusteeship is not diverse enough in terms of age, and a further 55 per cent stating that it is not diverse enough in terms of gender.

However, female trustee chairs were amongst the highest average salaries, alongside chairs from pension consultants and actuarial backgrounds and professional trustees,

The report emphasised that over the lifetime of the survey, female pension chairs have consistently received higher remuneration than their male counterparts, highlighting this as a positive message that could help attract greater diversity of candidates.

It clarified however, that the gender gap has “narrowed somewhat over time”, adding that the higher remuneration received by female chairs is a function of the types of role they occupy, for instance a higher proportion of female chairs are professional trustees then compared to male chairs.

More broadly, pension chair remuneration remained “static” over the past year, with an average pension chair salary of £47,305, following a three-year period of average increases of 3.3 per cent per year.

Over half (59 per cent) of respondents expected no change in their salary over the next year, while 34 per cent expected and increase and 7 per cent expected a decrease.

The report highlighted that these are “similar levels” to last year, suggesting that Covid-19 has not yet had a direct impact on remuneration.

However, most respondents (61 per cent) stated that they expect compensation for the year ahead to remain static, which it clarified could reflect the expected impact of the pandemic on remuneration activity.

Despite a lack expectations for an increase in remuneration, over a third (39 per cent) of respondents argued that their current compensation does not adequately reflect the “complexity and pressure of the role”.

Furthermore, an increasing number, 34 per cent compared to 24 per cent in 2019, felt that pay levels are a key barrier in recruiting chairs and trustees.

Winmark research director, John Madden, commented: “Attracting suitable candidates to apply for trusteeship positions is the key barrier to achieving greater diversity.

“A sector-wide effort to encourage greater interest, engagement and involvement in trusteeship roles will be required to increase the applicant pool in the long term.

“In this current environment, trustees’ communication channels need to adapt to the changes by reflecting on the changing relationship between employment, family life, leisure and retirement.”

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