Women’s pay inequality shows slow progress worldwide

Women around the globe are seeing slow progress in gaining gender and pay equality and are under-represented at all levels in the workplace and executive boardrooms, a report shows.

Although they make up 40 percent of the average company’s workforce, women represent only 33 percent of managers and 26 percent of senior managers. Even fewer, 20 percent, have risen to the executive level because companies are slow to build talent pipelines to promote diversity.

The report by consulting firm Mercer, billed as the largest and most comprehensive research of its kind, showed there are still roadblocks preventing women gaining full equality in the workplace, despite advances over the past several decades.

“At this pace and rate of change globally, we won’t see any form of gender equality in the workforce till 2050,” said Mercer’s Patricia A. Milligan after the report was released on Wednesday.

She described the under-representation of women as “an economic and social travesty” that will continue if companies do not take action.

“We won’t see any form of real pay equity in our lifetime,” Milligan, Mercer’s global leader, multinational client group, added in an interview.

The report, which covers 583 organizations representing 3.2 million employees in 42 countries, showed the number of women in jobs declines as the career level rises.

Women are 1.5 times more likely than men to be hired at the executive level, but they are leaving at 1.3 times the rate of men.

“Simply bringing them in at the executive lever without looking at the talent pipeline is not a sustainable strategy,” Milligan explained.

Forty percent of organizations in the United States and Canada offer pay equity remediation processes, compared to 34 percent globally, a quarter in Asia and 29 percent in Europe. But Mercer’s When Women Thrive report showed progress has stalled with no improvements in the pay issue since 2014.

“Less than 30 percent of organizations routinely review performance ratings by gender to check for disparities that translate into difference in opportunities for men and women,” the report said.

The United States and Canada ranked first with 14 percent of organizations offering women-focused retirement and savings programs, compared to only nine percent globally.

The report predicts Latin America is the only region expected to nearly reach equal gender representation in the workforce, rising from 36 percent in 2015 to 49 percent by 2025, followed by Australia and New Zealand, the United States and Canada with 40 percent of less.

Asia is projected to have the lowest representation of women in the workforce in a decade with 28 percent.

(Editing by Andrew Hay)

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