Doing the right thing for the planet

Four in five looking to change jobs demand green pensions

When you first start paying into your employer’s pension, your contributions, along with employer contributions and tax relief, will be invested through a default fund. You will usually have several fund options to choose from.

Increasingly, new research has identified that people are choosing to work for employers that provide ‘green pensions’[1]. Today’s workers expect employers to show true leadership and offer pensions which are invested responsibly.

Investments in high ESG-risk sectors
Demonstrating a genuine commitment to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) priorities is not only the right thing to do for the planet, it could also be a game changer for attracting and retaining the best talent. Business leaders have a real opportunity to show staff that they are serious about doing the right thing.

Many companies remain unaware of how their current employee pension schemes can undermine the progress they are making to develop more sustainable operations, primarily due to sizeable investments in high ESG-risk sectors such as coal, oil sands and tobacco.

One of the top four benefits
The data reveals the views of employees and employers relating to sustainable workplace policies and individual practices. Across the UK workforce, eight out of ten employees (83%) view climate change as an important issue – expecting their employer to take an active stance on ESG issues and implement sustainable workplace practices.

One quarter (24%) of employees cited support for more sustainable personal finances – including green pensions – as one of the top four benefits that they expect from a new employer, alongside flexible working (48%), cost of living support (39%) and an attractive holiday package (34%).

More sustainable pensions
72% of workers said that it was important their employer invests their savings sustainably, as part of their organisation’s overall stance on critical environmental and social issues. With a third (32%) of workers currently seeking new employment – and a further quarter (24%) planning to apply for new jobs in the next year – the data suggests that the provision of more sustainable pensions may provide a new way for employers to attract and retain talent.

Despite this sizeable employee demand, only a quarter (25%) of employers claim to be knowledgeable about green pensions. More than a third (37%) of employers claim to not know anything about them or have never heard of them.

Social and governance outcomes
In fact, nearly half of employers (43%) identified a green pension as a fund that avoids investments in highly polluting industries, such as oil or thermal coal projects. But only a fifth of employers (22%) acknowledged the social and governance outcomes, such as the equitable treatment of workers or promotion of gender and racial diversity on corporate boards (17%).

With over a third (34%) of employers admitting they don’t currently offer a sustainable pension scheme to their employees, there is a significant commitment gap on implementing workplace policies that positively impact ESG issues.

Source data:
[1] Make My Money Matter, FTSE100 Research, September 2022