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Academic research shows that diverse groups make better decisions. The Pensions Regulator consequently sees EDI as being an important part of effective trustee decision-making, and it has now published guidance to support trustees in improving their approach to EDI, along with guidance for sponsoring employers in order to emphasise the role that they have in supporting EDI.

Basic steps

  • Assess your trustee board’s diversity – in terms of life experiences, expertise and both technical and broader skills (perhaps using a skills matrix) – and identify gaps
  • Keep up to date with training
    • EDI training is available – sometimes free of charge – from many professional organisations; trustees may also be able to access it through their sponsoring employers
    • Develop and maintain an EDI policy setting out the trustees’ EDI aims and training plan, with clear success criteria and appropriate supporting actions
  • Scheme-specific goals should be agreed at the start of each scheme year and performance reviewed annually

The role of the chair

The guidance strongly emphasises the role of the chair in promoting EDI and in leading progress towards meeting EDI objectives. The chair should:

  • Lead engagement with other trustees and the sponsoring employer on the skills, knowledge and experience needed by the trustee body
  • Ensure any member-nominated trustee (MNT) campaigns have an EDI focus
  • Implement a succession plan to reflect the importance of EDI
  • Get to know the other trustees!

Encourage an inclusive culture

The chair should also take a lead in sustaining an open and inclusive culture, so that all trustees are encouraged to participate fully and to express their opinions freely, with no voice dominating.

Adjustments may be needed to premises, technology, ways of working – or even to the role itself – in order to accommodate not only disabilities and health conditions but also broader working styles, communication preferences and lifestyle (e.g. caring) commitments. For example:

  • Do in-person meetings create barriers for some people?
  • Do papers need to be provided in a particular format?
  • Can there be flexibility as to meeting times?

Trustee recruitment

Selection rather than election of MNTs may improve diversity – as may appointment of professional trustees. The guidance also suggests a range of measures to simplify nomination processes and to improve communication around the role of trustee – what it involves and the commitment it requires. Notably, it highlights remuneration as a way to widen the pool of candidates!

Click the link below to read The Pensions Regulator’s full guidance.

TPR’s Full Guidance

Isio will be happy to support trustees in understanding and implementing the guidance.

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