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Dutch schemes 'falling short' on implementing diversity

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Dutch pension funds are still falling short in implementing diversity requirements contained in the Netherlands’ code for pension fund governance.

The monitoring committee responsible for the code concluded that there was room for improvement regarding the representation of women and younger participants on pension fund boards.

It found that no more than 55% of the 150 surveyed schemes had appointed a female trustee, while just 33% had a board member aged under 40.

In an interview in Dutch financial news daily Het Financieele Dagblad (FD), Margot Scheltema, the committee’s chair, emphasised that the introduction of diversity onto pension funds’ boards was happening “far too slowly”.

Scheltema said pension funds should be more persistent in recruiting female trustees, and urged women to consider taking up a board seat “as pension funds are very interesting from a governance point of view and offer many part-time jobs”.

She stressed that not all board members had to be financial experts, and that other competences, such as communication, administration, and financial housekeeping, were also needed.

The monitoring committee also highlighted problems with communication in several areas. A quarter of the pension funds it surveyed hadn’t accounted for how far they had come in reaching goals mentioned in their vision, strategy, and mission.

Scheltema said pension funds had communicated “fairly” about the possibility of rights discounts, but said that there was room for improvement. She cited her own uniform pension statement as “not being the best example of clarity yet”.

In the interview, the chair of the monitoring committee also noted that 40% of the pension funds hadn’t contributed to the survey.

“Some of them had a sound explanation, pointing out for example that they were busy with a merger, but others haven’t provided clarity about why they hadn’t co-operated,” the FD quoted her as saying.

Scheltema acknowledged that pension funds were already facing an enormous administrative burden, but stressed that the committee had only made inquiries about a “limited number” of the 83 norms of the code.

The code for pension fund governance was introduced in 2014, and received legal backing in the same year.

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