Gender Insight

31 October 2016


“YBS Share Plans (YBSSP) conducted a survey of its Sharesave participants in conjunction with Durham and Leeds University Business Schools.

Sharesave is a workplace benefit where eligible employees are offered the opportunity to save a set amount from their net pay over a three or five year savings period in order to purchase discounted shares in their employer.


Through the survey we hoped to learn a little more about participant behaviour, motivations and decision making and whether or not there were any significant differences across the workforce demographic. As an employee benefits provider we’re always keen to understand more about the audience we serve and how we can better communicate with them.” says Martin Nellist Client Experience Manager


Looking at gender in isolation the survey results provide some interesting insight, summarised below:-


Key findings:

There is a clear difference in levels of financial knowledge and literacy, with only 28% of women confirming they were ‘knowledgeable’ or ‘very knowledgeable’ about financial matters compared to 46% of men. Additionally 34% of women confirmed ‘little’ or ‘no knowledge’ relative to 17% of men. This pattern is backed up by evidence from the financial literacy test questions relating to Sharesave discounts, inflation and risk with women scoring on average 1.5 out of 3 compared to 1.90 for men.

  • Women were more likely to report they understood ‘most of’ the Sharesave information they received, men ‘all of it’
  • Women reported they were more likely to seek advice and further information from a family member
  • Self-reported measures of risk indicate that women are less likely to take risks as opposed to men (3.83 vs 5 on a scale of 0-10)
  • The survey suggests that women have a marginally shorter financial outlook and were more likely to report that it was hard /very hard to make ends meet with the total income in their household
  • ...
  • Given this contextual backdrop it’s perhaps unsurprising that men on average reported they were saving £40 per month more into Sharesave than women
  • Motivations for joining Sharesave are consistent for both men and women. In terms of their ranking in order of importance women value ‘making regular savings’ over ‘making a financial return’, the order being reversed amongst men
  • Sharesave appears to be an important means of saving in the workplace for women, with fewer women making regular savings in addition to their Sharesave contributions than men.
  • More women than men report they would spend all the money they contribute to Sharesave, rather than invest in alternative forms of saving, if they didn’t participate in the scheme.
  • The dominant decision at maturity across both genders is to take up the option to purchase the discounted shares, although women report lower levels of this and are more likely to ‘cash-in’ than men

“Disentangling gender from the overall survey findings is fraught with difficulty as responses will undoubtedly be linked to other ‘gendered’ aspects of work such as occupation, pay and hours of work. Taking this into account however, there is still significant evidence to show underlying differences exist which we should look to take account of in our proposition going forwards. To achieve this we are investing significant time in developing the information we provide to eligible employees at invitation and maturity to ensure we address the learning from our research by including the right level of details in our questions and answer section. In addition we are developing our relationship through collaboration with Wealth at Work and Secondsight, the employee benefits division of Foster Denovo to ensure we are providing financial education in a format that our customers wish to receive and that answers questions relevant to their needs”


Data were obtained from a survey of Sharesave participants whose accounts are administered by the Yorkshire Building Society. Those holding a Sharesave account with YBS were invited to participate in the survey between October and December 2015 by following a web-link provided in their annual statements to an on-line survey. 3,301 Sharesave participants entered the survey, with around 2790 completing it with more or less full data.

Amongst the respondents to the survey, women worked on average fewer hours and earn less income than men. Compared to men they are less likely to have a degree and live in households with lower total income.

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