‘Real diversity issue’ is ensuring pension products don’t discriminate between genders - EIOPA

The “real diversity issue” is ensuring that pension products do not discriminate against genders, according to European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) head of policy, Justin Wray.

Speaking at the CBBA-Europe Annual Conference in Brussels, Wednesday 15 November, Wray gave insight into the authority’s views on diversity and inclusion, which formed part of its technical advice on the review of the IORP II Directive.

In its current form, the IORP II Directive does not require IORPs to have a diversity and inclusive policy in place or to set a target for the underrepresented gender in the management or supervisory bodies, which contrasts with the European banking regulation.

“We were asked to provide advice on how to promote [diversity] in the management bodies and we proposed changes to what was in banking, so a target for the underrepresented gender, women, and the need to promote and report on this but of course with iorps to reflect the specificity of the role of the social partners,” he explained.

However, Wray said that EIOPA, in its advice to the commission, also stressed the importance of gender discrimination within pension products themselves.

“We also advised, although we weren’t asked to, is that what matters in terms of gender is the pensions product as much as the management bodies. There is a clear gender pensions gap, something like 30 per cent between the average pension a man receives compared to what a woman receives.

"It’s important that the pensions product does not even inadvertently discriminate between genders. This is the real diversity issue rather than how many women or men are on the management board, important as it is.”

EIOPA’s technical advice for the review of IORP II, stated that diversity of management bodies is important to “ensure adequate representation in the management body of the population as a whole, to facilitate independent opinions and critical challenge, and to more effectively monitor management and therefore contribute to improved risk oversight and resilience of institutions”.

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