'Long way to go' to improve equality, diversity and inclusion, says TPR

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has said that there is “a long way to go” both within TPR and across the pensions industry to improve equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI), despite some welcome progress being made.

In a blog post, TPR executive director of policy, analysis and advice, David Fairs, acknowledged that “change is not easy and may take time”, revealing however, that many trustees are showing increasing willingness to embrace diversity and inclusion.

“They appreciate how crucial these priorities are to ensuring that decision making reflects the needs of all savers,” he continued.

“We know we have a long way to go both within our organisation and across the industry to improve EDI. We also know progress is not always as fast as we’d like and that it is not always in a straight line.

"However, we are committed to leading by example and we welcome the growing commitment and momentum across industry to embed a culture of diversity and inclusion, so that all savers are protected.”

Fairs also reflected on the steps already taken to improve EDI, highlighting TPR’s recent EDI Strategy as “an ambitious roadmap for change”, outlining the steps that the regulator is taking to towards a “fairer and more inclusive culture across the pensions industry”.

“As the UK regulator of workplace pensions and as an employer, we have been on this journey for some time, but we know there is much more to do,” he stated. “Crucial to bringing about lasting change is measuring our progress and ensuring we are transparent about the impact our equality, diversity and inclusion work is having.”

In addition to this, Fairs highlighted TPR’s five-year People and Culture Strategy, which aims, in part, to achieve more diverse leadership teams through improved recruitment processes and equal opportunities.

Fairs also provided an update on the conversations the regulator is having with the industry, explaining that TPR is engaging with trustees in an effort to gain insight into the issues schemes face when working towards greater diversity and inclusion within their organisations.

He continued: “It gives us an opportunity to identify good and best practice, identify barriers and understand which trustees are engaging with our guidance.

“So far, we have heard from trustees that barriers to change include complex scheme structures, slow rotation of trustees, long tenures and a need to ensure new trustees have strong industry knowledge so that they can govern effectively.

“Through our supervision, we have been encouraging schemes to explore ways they can gather, interpret and use data to bring about change across their organisations, including updating their recruitment processes to improve board diversity.

“As well as improvements to recruitment processes, we have also supported schemes to review their succession planning and to implement skills and board effectiveness assessments to ensure boards are made up of capable trustees from diverse backgrounds.

“Anecdotally, we have found that where the chair of trustees is committed to change, this is a good indicator that a scheme will more successfully implement measures to improve diversity and the robustness of decision making for all savers.”

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