Sixty-five percent of retirement fund trustees believe trustee boards should be more diverse, according to a survey conducted by the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association published Wednesday.
In survey of 57 trustees and trustee representatives, the London-based PLSA found that 84% of them think that a diverse board can help better represent plan participants' interests and that 91% think it can improve decision-making. Greater diversity and inclusion in the retirement industry can also attract and retain talented trustees, survey respondents said.
Respondents' views were divided on the current state of diversity of trustee boards. Less than a third, 28%, believed it was good, but 31% admitted it was poor, while 35% said it was average.
Currently, trustees of different age, gender and social backgrounds are seen to be better represented than those with disabilities or of different ethnicities, the PLSA said. Still, among the better represented groups, 28% felt that they are not very well represented while 10% said they are not represented at all. Also, 64% of respondents said trustee board members need to be more like the participants they are representing in terms of all of these factors.
The survey also found that 48% of trustees said they have no specific strategic objectives for diversity and or inclusion. Among those with no plans in place, the vast percentage do not know when they will put a plan in place, PLSA said.
"Our survey shows that the pensions industry recognizes that it needs to do much more to improve diversity and inclusion and are positive about the benefits for schemes and members of doing so — but there's a long way still to go," PLSA CEO Julian Mund said in a news release.
"It's vital that pension schemes have the right people in place throughout the organization, and to do that you need a wide range of skills, backgrounds and outlooks to ensure all members' interests are at the heart of decision-making processes," Mr. Mund said.
The survey was conducted Nov. 18 to Dec. 4.