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16 June, 2024
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PwC: Slow progress in gender equality in the workplace

Two PwC studies published ahead of International Women’s Day shed new light on gender disparity in the workplace


To mark International Women’s Day 2024, PwC has released two studies, the Women in Work Index and Inclusion Matters, finding that global progress on achieving gender parity at work continues at a sluggish rate.

Now in its 12th edition, the latest data from the 2024 Women in Work Index (WiW Index), reveals that at the current pace, it will take more than half a century to close the average gender pay gap across all 33 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries.

The WiW Index measures progress towards gender equality at work across the OECD, taking in five indicators* that frame PwC’s analysis and measure various indicators of gender equality in the workplace, one of which is the gender pay gap.

Despite some progress over the past decade, this year’s analysis shows there is still a considerable way to go to reach gender parity at work across all five indicators. Over the last decade, the average Index score increased from 56.3 in 2011 to 68 in 2022. In the latest Index update, the average OECD score improved by approximately two points from a score of 66 in 2021 to 68 in 2022.

Between 2021 and 2022, the majority of the improvement across the OECD was driven by an increase in the female labour force participation rate from 70.8% to 72.1% and a fall in the female unemployment rate from 6.4% to 5.3%. However, the average gender pay gap across the OECD widened from 13.2% to 13.5% over this period. This shows that despite greater participation, women remain in a considerably weaker position in terms of labour market returns as compared to men. Since the inception of the Index in 2011, the gender pay gap has been one of the indicators with the slowest improvement, narrowing only three percentage points between 2011 and 2022 across the OECD.

The WiW Index international rankings

Luxembourg ranks first on the Index, followed by Iceland and Slovenia. The top five countries on the Index in 2021 continue to rank in the top five in 2022, but the ordering has changed. Luxembourg's strong performance was driven by an improvement on all indicators and especially by the fact that the country continues to have the lowest gender pay gap across the OECD. At -0.2%, Luxembourg’s gender pay gap is negative, meaning that on average, the median level of pay is higher for women than men. The Nordic countries, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Iceland, all appear in the top 11.

Inclusion is key to achieving gender parity in the workplace

Turning to the sentiments of women in the workplace, PwC’s Inclusion Matters research confirms that disparity in pay is a pain point for women in the workplace: only 39% of women feel they are being fairly rewarded financially for their work.

PwC drew insights from its Global Hopes and Fears Survey 2023, to compile the Inclusion Matters research, sharing fresh gender-focused perspectives from close to 54,000 workers globally, almost 23,000 of whom are women. The research includes a Workplace Inclusion Indicator Index that measures three key dimensions of inclusion: belonging, fairness, and inclusive decision-making - and finds a statistically significant gender gap in favour of men.

The research finds that there is a significant gap between the inclination of men and women to ask for promotions (-9 points) and pay raises (-8 points). However, women with Inclusion Index scores in the top quartile are 1.4 times more likely to ask for a raise, and 1.5 times more likely to ask for a promotion. They are also 2.2 times more likely to recommend their employer as a place to work. Women’s turnover intentions increased (+8 points) this year with one in four women planning to change employers in the next 12 months, just slightly below the turnover intention rate for men at 27%. Highlighting a further reason why inclusion matters, women with higher inclusion scores are 1.2 times less likely to change employers.

The report also finds that inclusion is positively correlated with self-driven development and women feeling higher levels of inclusion are 1.7 times more likely to be actively seeking out opportunities to learn and develop new skills.

Cleo Papadopoulou, Chief Inclusion & Diversity Officer of PwC Cyprus said: “At PwC, we truly believe that inclusion matters in driving progress towards gender parity. Our research shows workplace inclusion is an important lever in propelling women’s development and advancement and that a workplace where women feel that they belong, are included in decision-making, and are treated fairly and equitably is a workplace where women can thrive.”

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