How mobilising our pensions can tackle inequality

Startling statistics on inequality in Britain continue to hit the headlines –from Oxfam’s revelations that the five richest families now own more wealth than the poorest 20% of the population to the TUC’s findings that 20% of UK workers earns less than the Living Wage. Meanwhile, the High Pay Centre calculates that the average FTSE 100 CEO earned £4.3 million in 2012.

Such deep inequality can feel intractable, with complex roots and even more complex solutions. But right now, there is a powerfully simple opportunity to address inequality in the UK’s largest companies, demanding an end to spiralling pay ratios. 

Executive pay awards are being determined at company meetings (AGMs) in the coming few months. At those meetings shareholders, including our pension funds, will cast their votes on pay. But whilst executive pay is put to the vote and discussed at length, it’s all too common for shareholders not to widen their lens and consider pay at the base of the pyramid.

Nevertheless, shareholder voting season provides a neat opportunity to make the call for companies to tackle inequality. According to a poll by YouGov, more than half of all pension savers want their pension funds to challenge companies on the issue of the Living Wage and about half want pension funds to ensure that executive pay and bonuses are not excessive.  However, our pensions need to hear from us, their members, if they’re actually going to use the power they wield in support of pay justice.

With a simple email through ShareAction’s campaign platform here, you can call on your pension fund to use its power to tackle inequality and bring the debate on pay ratios to the boardrooms of Britain. 

Lisa Nathan, Share Action Research and Engagement Officer.

The views expressed above are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Equality Trust.