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Gender pensions gap: should comms be more female friendly?

There is little guidance around the life events, such as maternity leave and divorce, that weigh on female savers.

Maternity leave, unpaid caring roles and divorce continue to wedge open the gender pensions gap.

The career breaks women take to shoulder caring roles amount to £39,000 in lost pension savings, according to NOW: Pensions’ 2024 gender pensions gap report. Today, women retire with average pension savings of £69,000 compared to £205,000 for men. A woman would have to work an extra 19 years to enjoy the same level of retirement savings.

Quietroom filmed interviews with women who struggled to find the right information from their pension providers when they needed it. Then we ask 3 female trailblazers in the pensions space about what should be done.

Our video highlighted some key issues:

  • It is very difficult to find information on what happens to your pension while you’re on maternity pay. How are you supposed to make decisions without the right information?
  • Finding and consolidating pensions in a maiden name can be an administrative nightmare. It’s one more barrier that women face.
  • There is little readily available information or guidance on pensions for women who switch to part-time hours or take or caring roles. You don’t know what you don’t know.

Jill Henderson of Scottish Widows, Maike Currie of Hargreaves Lansdown, and our own Chloe Taylor all gave their views.

There is often a level of trust with employers that doesn’t exist with pension providers. Employers should be educated so they can keep their employees informed. Especially when it comes to women going on maternity leave or reducing their hours.

The best time to give someone information is when they need it. Targeted communications during key life stages could help women have the right information at the right time.

Pension tools and forecasts assume that people’s careers follow a linear path, with their salary going up every year. This is much less likely to resemble a woman’s financial path. Scottish Widows has made a start with a ‘Beat the Gap’ tool, which illustrates the potential impact of career gaps on pensions.

Women are done dirty by auto enrolment, which excludes lower earners who are more likely to be women.

Women investors are misunderstood. It’s become accepted wisdom that they are risk averse. In reality, they are more risk aware, have long term goals and are more likely to put their money into female-owned businesses and socially conscious, planet-friendly investments. Negative stereotypes are self-perpetuating. Female investment strategies should be celebrated.

The female gaze is continually needed in communication. The industry needs to recruit, encourage and retain women in senior positions.

In over 75% of divorces, women don’t discuss pensions, despite it usually being the biggest asset. That’s a lot of women walking away with less than they’re entitled to. Single mothers are among the most likely to retire in poverty. In all divorces, pensions should be on the table alongside property, investments and savings.

Want to know more? Watch our video of the panel discussion.