On the eve of the Pride Amsterdam parade, Matt Rider, Chief Financial Officer at Aegon, writes about his support for the LGBT community and the unique financial challenges they face.
Gay pride events across the world mean many things to many people, but are above all a celebration of diversity and inclusion, as communities come together to say as one 'we support you'. I'm really happy to say a hundred Aegon colleagues will be in Amsterdam, cheering from the Aegon terrace as the procession of colorful boats slowly make their way around the city's historic canals, blasting a mix of dance and disco music as they go.
Bringing about change
Many colleagues attending are members of Aegon Proud – a group set up by LGBT employees and colleagues who wish to show their support and promote workplace inclusion. As Aegon's Chief Financial Officer, I was delighted to be asked last year to be the 'executive sponsor' of the group. I'm a strong believer that we need to reflect all the communities we serve, and those working in senior management positions have a special responsibility to help ensure organizations achieve that.
Looking back, it's amazing just how much society and the workplace have changed since I started work in the 80s in Washington, D.C.. Attitudes in many countries have well and truly shifted, so much so that recent years have seen a series of landmark legal changes, such as the introduction of marriage equality in many countries.
Our own company has really strived to ensure that everyone who works with us feels supported, respected and – most important of all – simply able to be themselves. Last year, our US business obtained a 100 percent score in the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Corporate Equality Index, and the year before we were awarded a Workplace Pride award – achievements that are a testament to the progress we're making in supporting diversity in the workplace.
Discrimination has declined, not disappeared
As well as being a celebration, Gay Pride is also of course a recognition that the fight for equality and diversity is not over. The reality is that discrimination has declined; not disappeared. To many people, the world of insurance may not seem like a frontline for this fight, but through our research, we're privy to unique insights as to how those in the LGBT community fare financially. Insights that can help change people's lives for the better.
Earlier this year, the Aegon Center for Longevity and Retirement published a first-of-its-kind report that examined this very issue across nine countries across Europe, the Americas and Australasia. Historically LGBT people have faced legal discrimination and in many cases still do. This legacy still impacts their finances and therefore their preparations for retirement. Among our survey's headline findings was that LGBT households typically earn around 8 percent less than heterosexual households. If you factor gender into the mix, LGBT women face double discrimination, with a household income that is 17 percent lower than that of heterosexual women and 27 percent lower than heterosexual men. What's more, an array of other things, such as family structure, support networks and career choices, continue to vary between LGBT people and heterosexuals, all of which impact on the quality of people's lives in retirement.
LGBT retirement planning in the Netherlands.
Financial security for all
For a company like ours, which exists to help people secure their financial future, these statistics make alarming reading. We all want to live in a world where everyone is treated equally, irrespective of their sexuality, gender, race, religion or disability. The question is: what can be done to ensure the LGBT community no longer lags behind financially?
Our report contains three sets of recommendations: for policymakers, employers and individuals. These range from governments and employers ensuring that the LGBT community has equal pay and access to career opportunities, to individuals knowing their rights and better understanding their financial situation. Simple and practical solutions, all of which can help ensure that LGBT people and their families are protected and can look forward to greater financial security in retirement.
The financial challenge that many LGBT people face is not a problem without a solution. Let's use this weekend to not only celebrate the progress made so far, but also to take the next steps to achieve true equality.
The report 'LGBT: Retirement Preparations Amid Social Progress' was a collaboration between the Aegon Center for Longevity and Retirement, Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies® and Instituto de Longevidade Mongeral Aegon.