It will take 50 years to close gender pay gap

Ireland lags the world for proportion of women being fairly rewarded financially.

Globally, there is 34 percentage point gap between the proportion of women who say being fairly rewarded financially for their work is important to them and the proportion who actually experience it.

This gap in Ireland is 46 percentage points, according the latest PwC Women in Work Index.

“A 20 year old woman entering the workforce today will not see pay equality in her working lifetime. At the rate the gender pay gap is closing, it will take more than half a century to reach gender pay parity”

The PwC survey of 22,000 women in the global workforce: A significant gender empowerment gap, men are more empowered in the workplace than women. Women in tech represent most empowered women.

Closing gender pay gap is an economic opportunity

The best performing countries on the latest PwC Women in Work Index are Luxembourg, New Zealand and Slovenia

The index recently ranked Ireland in 12th position out of 33 OECD countries. This is an improvement from 15th place last year.

The improvement was to a large part due to a rise in the female labour participation rate to 69.6% (2021) up from 65.6% (2020).  Boardroom representation for Ireland also increased to 31% from 26.8% last year.  The gender pay gap for Ireland’s largest companies, revealed by PwC Ireland’s recent analysis, is 12.6%.

Increasing female employment rates across the OECD to match those of Sweden (a top performer in female participation rates) would result in potential economic gains of nearly US$6trn per annum.

The latest research, published to mark International Women’s Day, shows that despite a return to some normality post the Covid-19 pandemic, the workplace continues to be an unequal place for women.

“CEOs and employers should do all they can to build a balanced workplace culture where women feel as empowered as men, and where women are fairly rewarded and experience autonomy, meaning and a sense of belonging at work,” said Emma Scott, PwC Ireland People Partner, said.

“This will have the dual benefit of building trust across the organisation and supporting women’s advancement. In today’s business world, it’s up to all of us as leaders to set the tone from the top to drive a culture that is inclusive and equitable for all employees.”

The PwC analysis indicates employers can make a material improvement to women’s empowerment in the workplace by focusing on fair reward, autonomy, inclusive leadership and instituting a data-driven diversity strategy.

Women working full-time in person have the lowest empowerment scores. This trend follows suit for men – suggesting that autonomy over how, where and when people work fuels feelings of empowerment across the workforce. The women who are most empowered also have greater opportunity to work remotely (74%). However, almost half (48%) of women can’t do their job remotely. Of the 11,285 women who can, 29% are working remotely full-time, and 56% had some level of hybrid work pattern.

“According to the survey, a 20 year old woman entering the workforce today will not see pay equality in her working lifetime,” said Ger McDonough, Partner, PwC Ireland People & Organisation

“At the rate the gender pay gap is closing, it will take more than half a century to reach gender pay parity. If the rebound from the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we can’t rely on economic growth alone to produce gender equality – unless we want to wait another 50 years or more.”

“Autonomy fuels empowerment for both women and men, but women currently have less autonomy over how, when and where they work. Demand for flexibility is a talent-wide proposition, and one that can’t be ignored by employers as they seek to enhance diversity, fuel engagement and innovation, and position themselves as an employer of choice.”

Main image at top: Emma Scott, PwC Ireland People Partner

John Kennedy
Award-winning editor John Kennedy is one of Ireland's most experienced business and technology journalists.