Sian Fisher: What are the unseen issues affecting financial wellbeing?

Talk and action to tackle the gender pay gap is headline news, but as chief executive officer (CEO) of the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) and chair of the Insuring Women’s Futures initiative, I am aware there are many more unseen issues facing female financial wellbeing.

Insuring Women’s Futures is a programme led by the CII, and supported by businesses, volunteers, and third sector organisations which share a commitment to improving women’s financial resilience.

Research by Insuring Women’s Futures, Living a financially resilient life in the UK, published in January 2020, identified how the gender pay gap actually begins long before females even enter the world of paid work.

The gap begins earlier in life, starting with the subjects which girls choose for their studies.

For example, even in 2020 fewer females than males report being encouraged to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics; the Stem subjects.

As a result of this, fewer women than men achieve the qualifications required to be considered for certain rewarding and sustainable careers.

Another unseen issue affecting female financial wellbeing is women still taking on the bulk of caring responsibility, for children and elderly relatives.

Data from the Insuring Women’s Futures’ Living a financially resilient life in the UK report shows this reduces their prospects of getting a promotion, their hourly pay, and ultimately, their lifetime earnings.

Furthermore, these elements compound to deplete a woman’s workplace pension.

Women should be hugely valued for their caring natures and the value this brings to society, but as things stand, a lifetime of caring can cause them to not have enough cash to pay for their own care in later life.

We should all consider what contributions are being made to our pension, and for how long, when we take time out from paid employment to care for others. Furthermore, carers must remember to register in order to secure their state pension.

 Sian Fisher is chief executive officer of the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII)