PMI Crest
PMI
Actuarial diversity: do we all play golf?
5 February 2021

Actuarial diversity: do we all play golf?

Progress has been made in improving diversity and inclusion within the pensions industry but more still needs to be done. Representation is important; inspiring learning is a must; and apprenticeships can open the door to recruiting a more diverse workforce.

When I conjure up the image of what actuaries were to me when I first entered the pensions industry, I see middle-aged white men playing golf.

I began my actuarial career as the only woman in an all-male team, so it was glaringly obvious from day one that the profession had a lot of work to do to catch up with the world. I was very mindful of being the only woman in the team – I made a conscious effort to push myself forward, and I made sure my voice was heard. I’m thankful that I have never been made to feel less valuable than any male colleague, and I do wonder if there have been times where I’ve actually benefitted from some overcompensation. I was also fortunate that our leadership at the time was made up mainly of women, so I had powerful figures to look up to whom I could see progressing. I am lucky to have had strong female role models in my life, but only recently have I realised how influential they have been.

I believe that visibility is vital – we’ve got to be seen to have a seat at the table – and this is true for all forms of diversity.

A lot has changed over the ten years that I’ve been in the industry and I believe we have experienced a huge cultural awakening where we recognise the value of real diversity. My personal experience is around gender equality and I believe change needs to happen early, while girls are still at school. Being an actuary is a heavily maths-based role and we still see difficulties in encouraging young female students to study maths. I love the idea of STEMinism – getting more women into Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths - and I think schools need to find ways make these subjects appeal to girls in a positive way.

I’m also keen to dispel the myth that a university degree is essential for an actuarial career.

Over the past few years, we have recruited apprentices after completing their A-levels, and these colleagues are as capable and talented as any graduate.

The pool of candidates we see for our apprenticeships also appears to be more racially, culturally and socially diverse. Buying into these different ways of recruiting is key to creating diversity.

What I like about the actuarial profession is the breadth of opportunity – you could go into any field that works with numbers and risk: insurance, or finance, or even online gaming! Plus, the work in my field is varied, I get to work with lots of different people, and our pensions world is changing and evolving all the time.

Thankfully, whilst the profession still has plenty more to do, if I was asked now what I think of when I think of an actuary, I look at my colleagues, now diverse in age, identity and race, and only one word comes to mind – talented.

Notes/Sources

This article was featured in Pensions Aspects magazine February 2021 edition

back to Pensions Aspects Magazine

Last update: 8 February 2021

Sarah Bamford-Blackman
Sarah Bamford-Blackman
Capita
Actuarial Consultant

Senior Communications Consultant

Salary: £38000 - £48000 pa

Location: London

Lead Communications Consultant - London or Yorkshire

Salary: £50000 - £60000 pa

Location: London

Senior Pensions Administrator

Salary: £31500 - £34000 pa

Location: Birmingham City Centre

You may also like:

Engaging with fund managers to deliver better ESG outcomes
05 March 2021

Engaging with fund managers to deliver better ESG outcomes

Voting and engagement are crucial aspects of responsible ownership and valuable tools for encouraging companies to adopt better standards of corporate governance and management of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues. Here, River and Mercantile’s Ajeet Manjrekar explains how fiduciary managers can support trustees to meet their regulatory obligations by challenging and influencing underlying fund managers’ behaviour and policies.

Read more
Reporting on Dalriada Trustees’ first year as a PRI signatory
05 March 2021

Reporting on Dalriada Trustees’ first year as a PRI signatory

Dalriada Trustees became a signatory to the United Nations Principles of Responsible Investment (PRI) in September 2019, the first Professional Trustee firm in the UK to do so. Over the last year or so we have been working to better incorporate Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors both within how we undertake our role as trustee and in how we operate internally.

Read more