Pension pots for men are '60% higher than for women'

Call for new approach as research shows decades of efforts to achieve diversity has failed

 Pictured (l-r) at the “When Women Thrive, Businesses Thrive” event organised by Mercer are; Martine Ferland, retirement leader for EuroPac at Mercer; Bríd Horan, of the 30% Club; and Mairéad O’Mahony, defined contribution leader at Mercer, Ireland. Photograph:  Conor McCabe Photography.

Pictured (l-r) at the “When Women Thrive, Businesses Thrive” event organised by Mercer are; Martine Ferland, retirement leader for EuroPac at Mercer; Bríd Horan, of the 30% Club; and Mairéad O’Mahony, defined contribution leader at Mercer, Ireland. Photograph: Conor McCabe Photography.

 

Two decades of efforts to achieve gender diversity and equality in the workplace has failed to ensure women are fairly represented at most senior levels in business, according to new research from benefits group Mercer.

And women also fare worse in retirement, the benefits group said, citing separate research carried out in Ireland, showing that men, on average, can expect to build a pension pot that is 60 per cent higher than that of the average woman worker.

“Women face a triple bind of lower earnings, more gaps in service and longer life expectancy,” said Mercer’s DC leader in Ireland Mairéad O’Mahony. “All of these factors mean that women have to draw from a smaller pool of assets for a longer period of time in retirement.

“This means financial planning becomes even more important for women. Organisations who recognise and provide for the unique needs of women when it comes to financial planning will distinguish themselves in attracting and retaining female talent.”

Mercer’s workforce diversity research – which involved 164 companies in 28 countries, representing 1.7 million employees – found that workplaces are still far from achieving gender equality.

Despite making up 41 per cent of the workforce globally, women’s highest representation among all career levels is in support staff roles. Women make up 40 per cent of the workforce at the professional level and 36 per cent at the managerial level, but only 26 per cent of senior managers and 19 per cent of executives.

The outcomes of the When Women Thrive, Businesses Thrive report were presented at a seminar in Dublin organised by Mercer, in association with the 30% Club that looks to increase female boardroom representation.

“While the diversity efforts of the past several decades have resulted in some improvements in women’s participation rates and career trajectories, our research shows that we’re still decades away from true gender equality - if we keep doing what we’re doing,” said Martine Ferland, retirement leader for EuroPac at Mercer. “It’s time to act differently, to address the unique needs of female employees and realise the benefit of their full participation,”

If current approaches continue unchanged, the global survey found, only one-third of executive positions globally will be held by women by 2024.

Fewer than one in five executive positions are held by women in Europe and the Pacific while the figure is almost one in four in America, according to the global survey. However, if recent trends continue, the representation of women in Europe/Pacific is poised to improve significantly, where progression in North America is stalled.