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3 posts from March 2015

19 March 2015

Women in Work – Nordic countries continue to dominate the top spots

The latest findings from our third annual update of the PwC Women in Work Index show that overall performance across the OECD has improved slightly, with the Nordic countries once again paving the way for gender equality in the workplace. Norway remains in pole position (a position it has retained for all the years we have analysed between 2000 and 2013), followed by Denmark, Sweden, New Zealand and Finland (who have all retained their 2012 positions).

Other OECD countries, such as the US and Hungary achieved notable improvements in their performance this year. The UK also moved ahead by four places to 14th, owing to an economic recovery that has benefitted both men and women, but more so for women. However, Poland and Ireland failed to sustain the gains they made thus far, slipping by five and four positions respectively on the Index. Australia and Portugal have also been on a steady decline since 2010, largely due to a widening of the gender pay gap.


More women are in work than ever before. However, the gender wage gap persists. A female worker in an OECD country who works full-time earns £15 less on average for every £100 her male counterpart earns, a gap that has barely narrowed since 2000.

Several factors account for this gap: women are more likely to have their careers interrupted by caring for young children or the elderly, which can affect their income levels when they return to work, if they return at all. Women are significantly more likely to sacrifice their careers due to responsibilities at home. In Europe, the female employment rate decreases by around 12 percentage points in the presence of a child under 12 than without a child, whereas it boosts the male employment rate by almost 9 percentage points. Part-time working may allow women to juggle a career and family responsibilities, but this comes at a price: part-time jobs are typically lower paid, and workers often face dim prospects for promotions and training opportunities.

Women are also more likely to work in lower paid occupations such as nursing, administrative and secretarial roles. In contrast, men tend to work in professional or higher-skilled occupations such as technical and professional roles, or in senior-level management, which are associated with higher levels of pay. Sectors that traditionally employ women also tend to pay less than in male-dominated industries, such as in banking, mining, energy and utilities.

It appears that the gap exists even when qualifications have been accounted for. Research by Catalyst – a thinktank based in the US – found that female MBA graduates from 26 leading business schools in Asia, Canada, Europe and the US were paid US$4,600 less in their first job than men with similar qualifications. In the UK, research by the Higher Education Careers Services Unit (HECSU) has shown that women earned less than men who studied the same subject.1

Although the pay gap in the OECD has narrowed since 2000, it is yet to fully address the underlying structural factors in the labour market that influence the gender pay gap and the share of women in employment. Unless it is addressed, these inequalities will continue to discourage women from the workplace, depriving businesses of half the talent pool.

In the short-term, improving pay transparency via salary reporting requirements could provide women with better tools to detect and address pay discrimination. Longer-term measures include encouraging shared parental leave and access to affordable childcare, which will also enable more women to return to work, and could influence a change in culture where men and women both have equal responsibility for childcare. Take-up rates in countries where similar legislation has been introduced, such as Sweden, Norway, Iceland and Denmark were low initially, but has since increased significantly. Reducing occupational segregation by encouraging women to enter male-dominated industries and improving the representation of women in higher-paying roles and sectors will also help narrow the wage gap over time.

There are no easy solutions for tackling these issues. What struck me most from Lean In is that women are promoted based on performance, whereas for men it’s based on potential. Unless these inequalities are addressed, they will continue to discourage some women from the workplace, depriving businesses of getting the most from half of the talent pool. Women are clearly ambitious and eager to reach their full career potential: our research on female millennials indicates that women rank opportunities for career progression as the most attractive employer trait. We must do more to ensure that women at all levels are fairly recognised and remunerated for their contribution and performance.

Yong Jing Teow is an economist in PwC's UK Economics and Policy team, with experience in macroeconomic research and analysis.

Find out more about Jing


1 “Male graduates continue to be paid more than females”, press release, HECSU, 7th March 2013.

12 March 2015

Do it for you: what we learned about feminism from Emma Watson

As a founding 10x10x10 Corporate Sponsor of HeForShe, PwC sent a small team to Emma Watson’s interview at the Facebook premises on Sunday (International Women’s Day – 8 March).  

Our PwC UK colleagues, Chris Lee and Dwayne Branch guest blog this week on their experiences and observations at the event:


"[Feminism is] equality: politically; culturally; socially; economically. That’s it, that simple … Men think it’s a women’s word. But what it means is that you believe in equality, and if you stand for equality, then you’re a feminist…Sorry to tell you. You’re a feminist.”

-          Emma Watson – Actress and UN Women Goodwill Ambassador

We are all feminists

It’s a Sunday evening and we are at Facebook’s offices in Central London listening to a passionate woman answer questions from around the world and talk about her role as the UN Women Goodwill Ambassador. Emma Watson, famous for her role as Hermione in the Harry Potter franchise, has turned her magic to representing HeForShe.  HeforShe is a movement that brings together men and boys in support of the equality of women and girls.

We were lucky enough to attend this fascinating event with over 100 of Emma’s biggest fans who won a place to see her in person.  To be honest, HeforShe was new to us and it may be new to you.  We also didn’t realise we were feminists, but as she talked, it became clear that we are all feminists. And that was ok!

It’s ok to be a feminist

Emma summarised that for some time, society had branded the idea of being a feminist as a negative thing. Feminists were seen as man haters.  However, she explained that feminism is about being who you are and supporting others to be themselves.  It's about challenging what it means to be a woman, and what it means to be a man. It’s ok for men to have emotions and express them freely. It is ok for a woman to be strong and still feminine. You can be who you want to be – we all just need to treat both genders equally.

We heard that most people think that gender equality is fast improving, and that overall society is changing for the better.  There is still work to do. Emma revealed that in just 12 hours after giving an iconic speech at the United Nations on feminism, a hoax website had been set up that threatened to leak naked pictures of her. She also shared some more shocking facts:

  • Globally, about one in three women will be beaten or raped during their lifetime
  • 85,000 women are raped every year in the UK alone
  • In the UK, the gender pay gap stands at 16 per cent
  • In the UK 77% of parliament is male

Gender inequality impacts men too. Men are still afraid to embrace their emotions or be seen as less macho. What is clear is that the fight for gender equality will only be won if we act now and we act together - both men and women.

Both men and women need to play their part

Men should not be scared or feel awkward about speaking up in support of their female counterparts. But equally, women need to accept that it’s ok to be allies with men.

Men aren’t coming to the rescue; men and women are working together equally for equality.

HeForShe02 PwC

Dwayne Branch and Chris Lee at Sunday’s Interview

Changes don’t have to be big

We as men are sometimes confused about how we can really make a difference. The smallest gestures can make the biggest impact. Whether it's thinking about how we view colleagues who work part-time or just letting her pay the bill. It is ok to have a dialogue about gender roles and challenge how we see things. 

PwC is supporting HeforShe:

PwC, along with other large organisations such as Unilever, Tupperware, Barclays, and Accor, are founding impact partners of HeForShe. Dennis Nally, our global Chairman, has committed the PwC network to be at the forefront of gender equality in business.  Visit www.pwc.com/heforshe to find out about the commitments PwC has made to support gender equality.


PwC and the other IMPACT 10x10x10 Champions with Emma Watson at Sunday’s Event

 Want to see more of what Emma had to say? You can watch the full interview here:


04 March 2015

A new era of female talent – is your organisation ready?

This Sunday, 8 March International Women’s Day (IWD) will be celebrated across the globe and at PwC we are marking the event with the release of our The female millennial: A new era of talent publication.  To find out more about the millennial generation (those born between 1980-1995) and their views on the world of work we surveyed over 10,000 millennials in 75 countries, 8,756 of whom were female.

Our research tells us one thing is clear when it comes to millennial women: we really are talking about a new era of female talent.

Female millennials are entering the workforce in much higher numbers than any of their previous generations. They are also more highly educated.  But, this is not the only thing that has changed. They also enter the workforce with a different career mindset. They are more career-confident and ambitious than previous generations.  49% of female millennial career starters (0-3 years’ work experience) believe they can reach the very top levels with their current employers. They rank opportunities for career progression as the most attractive employer trait, and are most likely to have left a former employer due to a lack of such opportunities.

When it comes to earning power and patterns female millennials are trail blazers.  86% of female millennials in a relationship are part of a dual-career couple, and 66% of millennial women who are part of a dual-career couple, earn equal to, or more than, their partner or spouse.  The female millennial is financially empowered.

With the female millennial forming a significant and growing proportion of the current and future global talent pool, organisations who fail to capitalise on the stellar traits of the female millennial will be left with an unsustainable talent pipeline.  Our research identifies a number of key themes that employers must have front of mind if they want to be successful in the attraction, development, engagement and retention of the female millennial.  Find out more in our featured video below:



IWD (6)-01

As a millennial woman it has been highly rewarding to lead this project from concept through execution. It has also been fascinating to shape the story the report shares. I knew that as a 34-year-old millennial woman with 14 years’ work experience, my experiences would be very different than a 22-year-old millennial just starting out in her career. So the report goes beyond a holistic view of the female millennial using a career stage differential.

The report also features lots of great #femalemillennial profiles and case studies.  To download our report, infographics or watch our videos visit www.pwc.com/femalemillennial.