Pension savers reveal a strong distrust in fast fashion and its negative contribution to society

Laura Dunn-Sims

by , PR Manager

21 May 2021 /  

21
May 2021

Woman in pink high-heeled shoes with multiple shopping bags

New research from leading online pension provider, PensionBee, has revealed that a majority of savers believe that the fast fashion industry, which rapidly produces clothing at low cost for the mass market, is detrimental to society.

In its annual survey, PensionBee asked customers about their views on the impact of various high profile industries such as fast fashion and big tech. The digital pension provider has uncovered that 82% of women aged 30 and under hold this view, indicating that they would not want to invest in fast fashion companies via their pensions. This is despite fast fashion companies purposely targeting the digitally native younger generation, with trend-driven, low cost garments (1).

The fast fashion sector is projected to shrink in the next five to 10 ten years due to increasing consumer awareness about its environmental impact (2). In 2019, a House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee report revealed that textile production contributes more to climate change than international aviation and shipping combined (3).

The report also highlighted that “poverty pay and conditions are standard for garment workers, most of whom are women”. It also voiced concerns about the use of the labour of children, prisoners, bonded workers, and slaves to produce garments. Prior to this, a 2018 Financial Times investigation had found that UK-based textiles workers tend to earn below minimum wage and suffer from unsafe working conditions, due to low prices demanded by retailers and their lack of commitment (4).

One female respondent, aged 41-50, commented that she wants to invest in companies that are “Fair and sustainable. It’s the only way business will offer long-term returns. Not interested in short-term returns”.

In contrast, most savers believe that big tech, specifically the five largest and most dominant companies in the information technology space (Apple, Alphabet [Google], Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft) make a positive contribution to society (59%). Only 8% of savers feel this industry makes a negative contribution.

Less than half of respondents (46%) believe that the meat and dairy industry makes a positive impact on society. This is in a context where a quarter of global emissions come from food and animal products account for almost 60% of food emissions (5).

While savers were mostly neutral about nuclear energy (45%), a significant proportion felt that this sector has a positive influence (39%).

PensionBee’s data shows that savers across all age groups and genders prioritise action on companies that treat workers unfairly, and 33% want to divest from companies that don’t pay the Living Wage to all their workers. One male respondent aged over 51 commented that he wants his pension to be “investing in companies that prioritise the welfare and wellbeing of their employees”.

Appendix

Table 1: PensionBee customers’ views on the ‘fast fashion’ sector

Proportion of savers (%)
This sector makes a negative contribution to society 52%
I feel neutral about this sector 41%
This sector makes a positive contribution to society 7%

Source: PensionBee, March 2021. Total question respondents: 1,612. Numbers have been rounded.

Table 2A: Male PensionBee customers’ views on the ‘fast fashion’ sector by age

30 and under 31-40 45-50 Over 51
This sector makes a negative contribution to society 56% 53% 45% 44%

Source: PensionBee, March 2021. Total question respondents: 1,612. Numbers have been rounded.

Table 2b: Female PensionBee customers’ views on the ‘fast fashion’ sector by age

30 and under 31-40 45-50 Over 51
This sector makes a negative contribution to society 82% 59% 60% 44%

Source: PensionBee, March 2021. Total question respondents: 1,612. Numbers have been rounded.

Table 3: PensionBee customers’ views on the ‘big tech’ sector

Proportion of savers (%)
This sector makes a negative contribution to society 8%
I feel neutral about this sector 33%
This sector makes a positive contribution to society 59%

Source: PensionBee, March 2021. Total question respondents: 1,614. Numbers have been rounded.

Table 4: PensionBee customers’ views on nuclear energy producers

Proportion of savers (%)
This sector makes a negative contribution to society 15%
I feel neutral about this sector 45%
This sector makes a positive contribution to society 39%

Source: PensionBee, March 2021. Total question respondents: 1,616. Numbers have been rounded.

Table 5: PensionBee customers’ views on the meat and dairy industry

Proportion of savers (%)
This sector makes a negative contribution to society 14%
I feel neutral about this sector 40%
This sector makes a positive contribution to society 46%

Source: PensionBee, March 2021. Total question respondents: 1,616. Numbers have been rounded.

Table 6: PensionBee customers’ views on the Living Wage

Should your pension invest in companies that don’t pay all of their workers the Living Wage? Proportion of savers (%)
No, remove these companies 33%
Yes, but only invest in the companies that commit to paying this in the future 31%
Yes, invest but use voting and selling to force change 20%
Yes, if they make money, leave this topic to the government 16%

Source: PensionBee, March 2021. Total question respondents: 1,676. Numbers have been rounded.

Table 7: PensionBee customers’ priorities for voting

Voting priorities Overall ranking
Poor treatment of workforce 1
Tax avoidance 2
Poor climate risk management 3
Excessive executive pay 4
Biodiversity loss 5
Lack of diversity and inclusion 6

Source: PensionBee, March 2021. Total question respondents: 1,504. Ranking in order of 1 - 6 priority for voting.

Footnotes

  1. Vogue Business
  2. The Times
  3. UK Parliament Fixing Fashion Report Summary
  4. Financial Times
  5. BBC

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