Women in Pensions

Tuesday 27 February 2018

We're delighted our Strategic Partner, Lesley Alexander, has been asked to be a judge at the the inaugural Women in Pensions Awards 2018. This event aims to celebrate inspirational women who are trailblazing their way through an industry in which they are typically underrepresented. Categories include 'Most Inspiring Returner', for women returning from maternity leave, and 'Mentor of the Year', for men and women who have supported women to fulfil their potential in the the industry.

At Ferrier Pearce, we pride ourselves in creating a working environment that celebrates and elevates people from all walks of life. We asked some of our own leading ladies to share their personal experiences working in the pensions industry, about any barriers they have faced and why the Women in Pensions Awards is important.

Nicola Emery gained her pensions experience working as an Administrator, before joining the Ferrier Pearce team in November 2017 as a Client Relationship Executive.

Nicola: I worked as a Pensions Administrator for 11 years before moving into pension communications. I've been lucky enough to work with a fairly even balance of men and women for the majority of my career but I have definitely seen a change in the number of women in higher up positions. When I first started in administration, men held the majority of senior roles, but more recently, the distribution has become much more even.

For most of my time in pensions I have had women as line managers, so I have never felt any restrictions in what I can achieve working in this industry as a woman. It's these types of role models that inspire women to push ahead in their careers -  if they can do it so can I.

As for any barriers? Some women may feel restricted and then return to work after having children, or sidelined in comparison to other members of the team. We women are well known for our ability to multitask - having a child does not prevent someone from doing their job well. It does, however, mean that working mothers need to feel supported and given the flexibility to perform their role in pensions and as a parent to the best of their ability.

To me, the Women in Pensions Awards is important because it helps to highlight and celebrate the work of women working in the pensions industry.  From the outside pensions can seem a very male dominated world which is why it's so important to show how women are making an impact and the creative ways they are doing this. As the statistics show, women still have to push that little bit harder in order to get the recognition they deserve compared to their male counterparts, which is why it's more important than ever to bridge this gap and celebrate the huge contribution from women in this field. I hope these awards will encourage and inspire future generations to work in pensions.

Liz Armstrong is a Client Relationship Director at Ferrier Pearce and has worked in the pensions and employee benefit communications industry for over 22 years.

Liz: I've never thought of myself as a 'woman'. By that I mean, when I describe myself work-wise I just say that I'm a communications specialist, a Chartered Marketer, who happens to work in the wonderful world of pensions. And it's a world I love, full of interesting people and details that are ever changing. So when Lesley, our Strategic Partner, was asked to be a judge in the 'Women in Pensions Awards 2018' I was wondering, do we really need awards to "celebrate and recognise the achievements of women in a sector where they are currently under-represented"? Well unfortunately, given recent news coverage, it seems we do need them…

A report earlier this month from the Equality and Human Rights Commission detailed some quite, as they described it, "depressing" statistics in relation to women in the workplace. A YouGov survey of 1,106 senior decision-makers revealed that a third of those working for private companies thought it was reasonable to ask a woman about her plans to have children in the future during the recruitment process. In addition, 59% said she should have to disclose if she is pregnant and almost half (46%) said it was also reasonable to ask a woman if she had small children. Is this really 2018? Do some people still think that way about women in the workplace? Could any of these senior decision-makers be working in the pensions industry? Unfortunately the answer could be yes to all of these questions...

It's an awful thought to think that what you do, how that is perceived, is affected by your gender or anything else that you can't change about yourself. I've always had a positive experience working in the world of pensions. It's just been about what I can do professionally, my experience and expertise. The fact that I'm a woman hasn't been part of the equation but maybe not every woman in pensions has had that same experience. Achievements could have been overlooked or not acknowledged.

So, thinking again, I do think we need the Women in Pensions Awards. We do need to celebrate diversity and achievements, where preconceptions may have put additional challenges in the way. And maybe next time someone asks me what I do, I'll say that I'm a woman who works in pensions.   


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