Bridging the gender pay gap in Europe [Research Study]

Picture this! Way back in 1948, the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) made a bold proclamation: “Every single person, no matter who they are or where they come from, has the right to earn the same pay for the same work.”

Now, that’s a statement we can all get behind, right?

Since then, we’ve seen some real progress. Many places have stepped up, making it downright illegal to discriminate pay based on gender. But let’s not start the celebration just yet. We’ve still got a mountain to climb.

Here’s the hard truth: respected organizations around the globe are sounding the alarm. If we keep going at this snail’s pace, we’re looking at decades, maybe even centuries, before we can finally say we’ve closed that gender pay gap.

So, let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work, because equality can’t wait!

The hard truth: gender pay gap persists

Now, let’s talk about the ADP Research Institute’s latest annual study, “People at Work 2023: A View on the Global Workforce”. This isn’t just any study. It’s a deep dive into the sentiments of employees worldwide, and guess what it found?

You got it. The gender pay gap is still alive and kicking, even in our modern world. In fact, the study shows significant differences in the incomes of men and women across European nations. That’s right. We’re in the 21st century, and we’re still grappling with this issue.

But here’s the kicker. This isn’t just a European problem. Oh no, it’s a global issue that transcends cultures and borders. So, even as companies make strides in gender equality and boosting women’s participation in the workplace, we’re still seeing social, cultural, and yes, even religious inequalities putting up roadblocks.

The european scorecard: progress in gender pay equality

Now, let’s take a trip across the pond and see how things are shaping up in Europe. You might be thinking, “Surely, they’ve got this gender pay equality thing figured out, right?” Well, not so fast.

On average, only 34% of male workers and a mere 25% of female workers believe their company has made strides in gender pay equality compared to three years ago. That’s right. We’re not talking about a majority here. We’re talking about a third of men and just a quarter of women.

But here’s where it gets interesting. These numbers aren’t uniform across the board. Oh no, the proportion of folks who agree with this sentiment varies widely from country to country. So, while some nations might be making headway, others are lagging behind.

So, there you have it. The progress in gender pay equality in Europe isn’t a one-size-fits-all scenario. It’s a mixed bag, and it’s high time we started addressing it.

  • France 35%
  • Germany 29%
  • Italy 24%
  • Netherlands 28%
  • Poland 28%
  • Spain 36%
  • Switzerland 45%
  • United Kingdom 27%

Now, let’s turn our attention to the Swiss. You know, the folks known for their precision watches and delicious chocolates. But today, we’re not talking about timepieces or sweets. We’re talking about progress.

Get this: a whopping 45% of Swiss workers are reporting that gender pay equality has improved in their company in the last three years. That’s right, nearly half of the workforce in Switzerland is seeing positive changes on the pay equality front.

So, hats off to Switzerland! They’re setting the pace and showing the rest of Europe how it’s done.

Now, let’s talk about salary

Let’s talk about the big “S” – Salary. It’s no surprise that for most hardworking Europeans, it’s the number one reason they roll out of bed and head to work. In fact, a whopping 62% of employees say so, a figure that’s neck and neck with the global response of 61%.

Now, here’s where it gets interesting. The value of that paycheck isn’t the same for everyone. Ladies seem to place a higher importance on salary, with 67% affirming its significance, compared to 59% of the gents. But despite ranking it higher, fewer women (36%) than men (41%) are actually satisfied with what they’re bringing home.

And let’s not forget about inflation. It’s a roller coaster ride, varying from country to country, and currently on the downswing across Europe. Yet, half of the region’s workers (50%) are banking on a pay hike in the coming 12 months to help keep their household budgets afloat. Now, that’s what I call optimism!

The big three: factors driving the gender pay gap

Let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of the gender pay gap. We’ve got three major players on the field:

  1. The Glass Ceiling: This invisible barrier is like a pesky fly that just won’t buzz off. It’s those unseen obstacles that keep our talented ladies from climbing up the corporate ladder.
  2. Sticky Floors: Picture this – you’ve stepped on a piece of gum and now you’re stuck. That’s what it’s like for women caught in the lowest paid roles. No matter how hard they try, they can’t seem to shake off those disadvantages and step up.
  3. Maternity Penalty: Now, this one’s a real kicker. Women are penalized for the most natural thing in the world – raising kids. The result? A significant loss in lifetime income.

So there you have it. These are the heavy hitters contributing to the gender pay gap. It’s high time we knocked them out of the park!

The gender pay gap: Europe vs. the World

Let’s talk dollars and cents, or should I say, euros and cents. Europe, the land of the Eiffel Tower and Big Ben, is often seen as a beacon of progress and employee rights. But hold onto your hats because this year’s “People at Work” study has thrown us a curveball. It seems our friends across the pond still have some homework to do when it comes to gender pay equality.

Now, let’s get down to brass tacks. The recent pay raises that our hardworking ladies in Europe have received are trailing behind those of their male counterparts. So, it’s no shocker that women are bracing themselves for less this year.

Let’s crunch some numbers. Last year, men worldwide saw their paychecks grow by an average of 6.7%, while women only saw a 6% increase. Looking ahead, men are expecting their salaries to jump by an average of 8.5% next year, while women are setting their sights on a more modest 8% increase.

And guess what? This global trend is mirrored right back in Europe. Last year, European men enjoyed an average pay raise of 5.7%, compared to 4.9% for women. And the story repeats itself with women expecting a pay bump of around 6%, while men are forecasting a 6.6% increase.

So there you have it. The gender pay gap is a worldwide issue, and even progressive Europe isn’t immune.

More women feel they are not earning enough compared to men

The issue of fair pay has been a hot-button topic lately, particularly in Europe where workers are starting to feel that their paychecks don’t reflect their hard work. The statistics show that 48% of men in Europe feel this way, but a whopping 56% of women share this belief, indicating a significant disparity between genders. It’s time for us to address this issue and ensure that everyone receives a fair wage for their efforts. After all, fairness is what we all strive for in the end.

A new directive on pay transparency from the Council of the European Union (EU)

Let’s talk about a game-changer that’s shaking things up in the European Union (EU). We’re talking about the new directive on pay transparency. This isn’t just a rule change, it’s a revolution!

EU companies are now stepping into the spotlight. They’ve got to spill the beans on what they’re paying their employees, both men and women, for work of equal value. And if their gender pay gap is more than 5%? Well, they’ve got to roll up their sleeves and get to work on fixing that.

Now, let’s break down the nitty-gritty:

  • Big companies, those with more than 250 employees, they’ve got to report annually on their gender pay gap.
  • The smaller folks, initially those with more than 150 employees, they’ve got a bit more breathing room with reports due every three years.
  • Victims of wage discrimination? They’re getting compensation.
  • Employers who break the rules? They’re facing penalties, including fines.
  • Job seekers? They’re getting the lowdown on starting salaries and salary ranges for positions.
  • And asking about a candidate’s salary history? That’s a big no-no now.
  • Discrimination between sectors? It’s on the radar.
  • And the burden of proof? It’s shifted. Companies must prove they’re playing by the EU rules.

This EU Pay Transparency Directive, it’s not just talk. It came into force on June 6, 2023. And EU Member States? They’ve got until June 7, 2026, to get these provisions into their national laws.

And let’s not forget about intersectionality. It’s the way multiple forms of discrimination, like race, disability, and in this case, pay and gender, can overlap or intersect. It’s especially important for those marginalized individuals or groups out there.

So there you have it! A new era of transparency and fairness is dawning in the EU. It’s about time we ensure everyone gets a fair shake at the workplace. Stay tuned for more updates on this exciting development!

Please find below a comparison of genders in their careers beyond just salary:

“I am satisfied with my professional growth”:

  • 39% of men and 35% of women responded positively to this statement.

“I talk to my company about professional growth”:

  • 51% of men and 45% of women said they had discussed their professional growth with their company.

“I feel that my contributions are taken into account and recognized”:

  • 57% of men and 53% of women felt that their contributions were taken into account and recognized by their company.

“My company provides financial wellness advice”:

  • 43% of men and 33% of women said their company provides financial wellness advice.

Finally, the average number of unpaid overtime hours per week:

  • Men: 7.38 hours
  • Women: 6.11 hours

The gender pay gap in Europe. It’s not just business, it’s personal.

Our study paints a sobering picture. Almost half of European workers, that’s 43% of men and 50% of women, believe their companies haven’t moved an inch on gender pay in the last three years.

But hold on, the plot thickens. Among workers unhappy with their jobs, 11% of women point to the gender pay gap as a culprit. But only 5% of men echo that sentiment.

And here’s a twist – dissatisfaction with the gender pay gap dwindles with age. It’s at 10% for the 18 to 24 crowd, but drops to 7% for those over 55.

Our research doesn’t stop at gender. It dives into age, parental status, dependent children’s ages, region, and company size. The gender pay gap’s impact is a complex web.

Now, let’s go global. A whopping 53% of staff at the big corporations, those with over 1,000 employees, say they’ve seen improvements in gender pay equality. But in Europe? Only 29% of workers at these large companies agree. And the story’s the same in medium-sized companies. European workers just aren’t seeing the same strides in closing the gender pay gap as their global counterparts.

Closing the gender pay gap isn’t just about fairness, it’s about business success.

Studies show that employees satisfied with their organization’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are twice as engaged. That’s twice the productivity, twice the innovation, twice the drive.

So, what can closing the gender pay gap do for European business leaders? Let’s break it down:

  1. Attract and Retain Top Talent: A fair pay strategy boosts team morale and motivation. It’s a beacon for top talent, showing your organization values fairness and transparency. Plus, it saves your HR team from the tough task of hiring under an unfair salary strategy.
  2. Regulatory Compliance: Let’s not forget the legal side. Closing the gender pay gap helps avoid punitive fines and reputational damage from non-compliance. Take note of the new Council of the European Union pay transparency directive.

Ignoring the gender pay gap is like ignoring a ticking time bomb in your business.

ADP Research Institute found that a whopping 69% of employed Europeans would walk out the door if they discovered an unfair gender pay gap at their company. That’s 65% of men and 73% of women ready to say “sayonara”!

So, how can companies defuse this bomb?

  1. Support Parents: Offer reliable, affordable child and family care services. Throw in flexible work options like part-time and job-sharing opportunities.
  2. Promote Women: Get more women in the driver’s seat. Female representation at the top isn’t just key, it’s the master key. It helps address pay and role differences.
  3. Transparency is King: Share data on company and industry-wide wage rates. Knowledge is power.
  4. Examine and Close Pay Gaps: Work to avoid them in the future. Make participation a fundamental organizational value and have clear policies and practices.

Now, let’s talk data. In today’s economic climate, companies can’t afford to overlook the importance of fair compensation.

Business, HR, Payroll, and Finance leaders can slam the door on pay gaps with an integrated HR and payroll system. This provides the accurate, real-time data they need to keep the gender pay gap closed for good.

An effective workforce compensation strategy that’s equitable for both genders can help a company hire, reward, and retain talent in a tight labor market.

As Corinne Carles, Senior Director Total Rewards at ADP, puts it, “Companies must actively demonstrate to workers that they are eradicating unfair gender pay practices if they hope to retain an increasingly aware workforce.”

The People at Work 2023: A Vision of the Global People Team is a study conducted by ADP Research Institute® between October 28 and November 18, 2022. The study sheds light on the attitudes, aspirations, wants, and needs of 32,612 workers in 17 countries. This includes more than 8,613 individuals who exclusively work in the gig economy. The study provides valuable information for employers to understand what workers want and how to offer it to them.


  1. United Nations
  2. ADP Research Institute, People at Work 2023: a vision of the global human team. The European countries surveyed were: France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
  3. ADP Research Institute, People at Work 2022: a vision of the global human team. The European countries surveyed were: France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
  4. ADP, The Potential of Payrolls in 2024: Global Payroll Survey

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