Our sustainability focus

When setting investment objectives, we consider risk, return and real-world impact. Our responsible investment strategy is guided by our priority sustainability themes: Gender equality, living wages and climate action.

Our sustainability themes act as guiding principles for the way we work and invest your money.

  • Gender equality – all women, men, girls and boys should have equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities
  • Living wages – all companies should pay their employees a living wage
  • Climate action – a speedy and fair transition to a low-carbon economy is the only way to address the climate crisis.

We believe the companies we invest in should demonstrate the same values.

Gender equality

Gender equality is necessary for a prosperous and sustainable world. We believe all women and men and girls and boys should be offered equal rights, responsibilities, and opportunities.

When we’re investing your money, we look at companies taking steps towards gender equality. Although attributing a company’s financial performance to their gender equality efforts isn’t so straightforward, we believe those who take steps to bridge inequality tend to outperform companies that ignore, or worsen it. These companies tend to:

  • Experience a more engaged and diverse workforce which leads to better decision-making
  • Are better at people management and retain happy employees
  • Are are less exposed to reputational issues
  • Experience more client and customer loyalty leading to growth, competitiveness and productive capacity, particularly over the long-term
  • Be less exposed to regulatory intervention, such as maternity pay or gender pay gap reporting.

Companies with a strong performance can translate to improved investment performance over time.

Despite increased awareness of gender equality, there’s more work to be done.


The UK gender pay gap is 8.3%. This was 7.7% in April 2021 and 9.0% in April 2019.


Just 9% of Fortune 500 companies are led by women in 2022. That’s 44 of 500.


Women are subject to gender-biased credit scoring and gender stereotyping in investment valuations and more reliant on self-financing.


Women are still more likely to be victims of discrimination, harassment and sexual violence.

Gender equality benefits the economy

According to the European Institute for Gender Equality, improving gender equality would lead to an increase of GDP per capita by 6.1 to 9.6% by 2050, which amounts to €1.95 to €3.15 trillion in the EU.

Additionally, it would lead to 10.5 million more jobs, which would benefit both women and men.

In countries where gender equality is improved, they can expect an increase in GDP of about 12% by 2050.

Find out more about our ongoing efforts to close the gender pensions gap.

Living wages

We support companies that treat their workers fairly and pay them a living wage. This includes direct employees, contractors, and supply chains.

Providing a living wage could have significant knock-on effects such as reducing child labour, increasing access to education and other positive social impacts, as well as addressing systemic risks such as inequality.

‘[“A living wage”] is the wage rate necessary to ensure that households earn enough to reach a minimum acceptable living standard as defined by the public’
– UK Living Wage Foundation

In the UK, the minimum wage is set by government, which the government has named the ‘national living wage’.  The ‘real living wage’ is set by the UK Living Wage Foundation, and is the definition NOW: Pensions adheres to when measuring a company’s living wage efforts.

               National Living Wage Real Living Wage
What is it?  £9.50 £10.90 across the UK, £11.95 in London
Is it the law? Yes No
Which age group does it apply to?  23 and older 18 and older
How is it set? Set by the UK Government Set by the UK Living Wage Foundation
according to the cost of living
(based on household goods and services)

Across our investment portfolio, we monitor risks and opportunities associated with living wages. Although a company’s financial performance can be affected by many factors, we do believe that companies taking steps towards better equality, on average, outperform those that ignore or worsen the issue. 

ceo handshaking with woman financier while sitting at meeting

We believe that companies taking steps towards equality are more likely to:






Climate action

Action to address climate change is now widely established and understood.

At NOW: Pensions, we’ve committed to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, with a 50% emissions reduction target by 2030, based on 2019 levels.

This is consistent with the Paris Climate Agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C.

Read more about our responsible investment

The way we invest your money could support climate targets. We believe that a speedy and fair transition to a low-carbon economy is the only way to meet these targets. Climate action is likely to be the biggest change to the current global economy in our lifetimes.

To achieve our commitments, our approach is to stay invested and influence the companies we invest in to align with climate action targets. That said, we judge investments by their real-world impact. We judge some investments as too risky however well they perform, especially if there are systemic issues such as climate change or respect for human rights. This means we’ll exclude some investments where we think impact is too damaging.

Again, it’s not always straightforward to attribute the financial maturity of a company, we still believe companies that take steps to address climate change will, on average, outperform companies that ignore or worsen it.

Read our Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosure and summary, setting out our metrics, scenarios and targets to help manage climate change-related risks and to meet net zero commitment.

To find out more about how we invest your money, see our Statement of Investment Principles.

We believe that effective stewardship can improve member outcomes. Read our Stewardship policy.