Women make up just 37 per cent of the 11 million people within the target group for auto-enrolment, despite making up 46 per cent of the workforce. This disparity is in part because they are more likely to have single or multiple part-time jobs that pay below the earnings trigger.
The average amount in a woman’s workplace pension scheme is less than half that of their male colleagues, according to figures from the PLSA and Close Brothers Asset Management, with women holding on average £53,000 to men’s £120,000, within their survey group.
Female workers are also twice as likely to have less than £5,000 in workplace savings compared to their male counterparts, and more than half of female employees – 51 per cent – admit to feeling financially unprepared for their retirement, compared to 35 per cent of male workers.
Lower pension pots result from multiple factors, including lower pay, revealed by multiple employers who have so far revealed gender pay gaps of 30 per cent and higher and time out of the workplace looking after children.
Lower-ranking roles within organisations would also make women less likely to be eligible for income protection or private medical insurance, according to 2016 research by Zurich.
A poll of women for Canada Life found half have never considered their families’ protection needs and 57 per cent do not have protection in place.
Close Brothers head of financial education Jeanette Makings says: “The savings crisis is thrown into stark relief when looked at under the lens of gender imbalance. Women are not only earning less and therefore saving less, but are significantly less confident about the savings options available and how to choose what’s best for them. Women are more likely to trust friends and family or personal savings websites, which are unlikely to be able to provide suitable and comprehensive information across the entire savings landscape.”
Pension Monster marketing manager Sarah Jones identifies an even bigger pension gap within her company’s data. She says: “Even with higher life expectancy and a relatively poor state pension, news that a record 4m women are working well into their sixties, compared to 20 years ago, is still alarming. There are now three generations of women in the workplace, each with very different career experiences and expectations. However, our data shows that there remains a gender savings gap, with women only managing to save on average £70,000 towards their pension, compared to £192,000 for men.”
Canada Life national sales manager for individual protection and founder member of the Women in Protection group Natalie Summerson says: “As an industry and society we need to acknowledge that women are not just a crucial part of the UK workforce, but are also contributing a critical amount to their household, through income and other forms of support such as childcare or running a home.
“The need for protection is high and women need to be encouraged and enabled to take care of themselves and their families should the worst happen. We will be continuing to investigate how best to reach women and provide them with the protection they need in a way that works for them.”