New workplace pension incorporates ethical and ESG considerations

Aviva UK has launched the ‘Stewardship lifestyle strategy’ - a workplace pension default investment strategy that incorporates ethical and ESG (environmental, social and governance) considerations.

This is the first time a strategy has been based solely on the Aviva Stewardship funds. Launched in the 1980s, the funds have a proud heritage as the country’s first ethical fund range, while also incorporating ESG considerations.

The strategy has ethical and ESG considerations throughout the growth and consolidation phases. This means regardless of when a member first invests, they can be reassured that ethical and ESG considerations are integrated all the way up to their selected retirement date.

Businesses which have their workplace pension scheme with Aviva will be able to use the Stewardship lifestyle strategy as their default. They will also be able to offer it to employees as an alternative to their existing default.

The philosophy of the Aviva Stewardship funds recognises that the contribution companies make to a sustainable society depends both on the products and services they provide and the way they provide them. 

This results in the funds excluding companies that do not meet certain ethical standards or that harm society or the environment.

Alongside this, the team behind the Stewardship funds engage and support companies that make a positive contribution to a sustainable society and encourage positive environmental, social and governance practices.

“Responsible investing is no longer a ‘nice to have’. The investment and workplace pensions industry can play a huge role in changing the world we live in for the better, and the launch of this lifestyle strategy, utilising the Stewardship funds, is a big step towards that.

"Aviva has been at the forefront of responsible investment for decades and we take our duty very seriously. We want to offer people a simple but effective way of ensuring that as they save for their retirement, their investment is being used for the good of society and the planet."

How does Stewardship work?

The Stewardship Funds investment approach is based on three layers:

  1. Exclusion – principally based on what a company does ie companies with a significant involvement in tobacco, pornography, coal mining are excluded from the funds.
  2. Engagement – working with companies to improve how they conduct their business.
  3. Outcome – measuring the ESG performance of the companies in which the funds are invested.

The value of investments can go down as well as up. Members may get back less then has been invested.

The Stewardship funds are managed by Aviva Investors (AI). AI’s Global Responsible Investment (GRI) team, led by Dr Steve Waygood, maintain the policy that guides the funds and ensures they continue to adhere to the Stewardship philosophy.

Steve Waygood, Chief Responsible Investment Officer at Aviva Investors, said:

“Using the Stewardship funds to create a workplace pension default means more people will now have access to an ethical investment philosophy.

“Having the option to invest in companies that are in line with your personal beliefs shouldn’t be reserved for the wealthy or the investment professional.

“As a result of auto-enrolment and the boom in pension saving, more and more people are now investors. Their hard-earned savings can be used to make the world a better place.”

Aviva and corporate responsibility

  • Aviva is a Living Wage employer.
  • Aviva has introduced equal parental leave for all new parents.
  • Shareaction has rated Aviva as ‘AAA’ for managing climate risk.
  • Aviva was the first carbon neutral international insurance company.
  • Aviva is co-founder of the World Benchmarking Alliance.
  • Aviva has committed to removing single-use plastics from its UK offices.



Ben Moss

Corporate and Workplace

Notes to editors:

  • We are the UK's leading diversified insurer and we operate in the UK, Ireland and Canada. We also have international investments in India and China.
  • We help our 19.2 million (as at 31 December 2023) customers make the most out of life, plan for the future, and have the confidence that if things go wrong we’ll be there to put it right.
  • We have been taking care of people for more than 325 years, in line with our purpose of being ‘with you today, for a better tomorrow’. In 2023, we paid £25.6 billion in claims and benefits to our customers.
  • In 2021, we announced our ambition to become Net Zero by 2040, the first major insurance company in the world to do so. We are aiming to have Net Zero carbon emissions from Aviva’s operations and supply chain by 2030. While we are working towards our sustainability ambitions, we recognise that while we have control over Aviva’s operations and influence on our supply chain, when it comes to decarbonising the economy in which we operate and invest, Aviva is one part of a far larger global ecosystem. There are also limits to our ability to influence other organisations and governments. Nevertheless, we remain focused on the task and are committed to playing our part in the collective effort to enable the global transition. Find out more about our climate goals at and our sustainability ambition and action at
  • Aviva is a Living Wage, Living Pension and Living Hours employer and provides market-leading benefits for our people, including flexible working, paid carers leave and equal parental leave. Find out more at
  • As at 31 December 2023, total Group assets under management at Aviva Group were £376 billion and our estimated Solvency II shareholder capital surplus as at 31 March 2024 was £8.5 billion. Our shares are listed on the London Stock Exchange and we are a member of the FTSE 100 index.
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