Despite some gains in the workplace, indicators show considerable progress still needed; at current rates it will take over half-a-century to close gender pay gap across OECD: PwC analysis

07 Mar 2023

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

LONDON, 7 March 2023 – Today, PwC released the results of new analysis and research, the Women in Work Index and the Global Empowerment Index, which provide detailed looks at gender-focused matters affecting the global workplace. 

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

Fair pay and employment

PwC’s Women in Work Index (WiW) shows female workforce participation across the 33 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries slightly increasing in 2021. However, progress towards gender equality remains too slow. 

PwC’s analysis shows that there are trillion-dollar gains to be made from closing the gender pay gap.  Increasing women’s average wages to match those of their male counterparts across the OECD would boost female earnings by more than US$2 trillion per annum. But, based on OECD countries’ gender pay gap of 14% in 2021, and historical rates of progress towards gender pay equality, it will take more than 50 years to close the gap across the OECD nations.

Separately, a key finding of the PwC Global Empowerment Index (GEI): shows there is a gap of 34 percentage points between the proportion of women respondents who say being fairly rewarded financially for their work is important to them and the proportion who actually experience it, making it the biggest gap for women in our survey.

The PwC Women in Work Index shows a slight fall in the unemployment rate for women, from 6.7% to 6.4%, in 2021. However, similar improvements were also evident in male participation and employment rates, suggesting that employment levels are a symptom of macroeconomic factors and the general labour market recovery, rather than an advancement towards gender equality.

The best performing countries on the Index in 2021 remain unchanged from 2020, with some rising in rank while others fell slightly. Luxembourg took the top spot this year (up from second place), and New Zealand fell into second place. Slovenia remained in third place and saw an absolute decline in its Index score. 

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$6 trillion per annum.

Larice Stielow, senior economist at PwC UK and WiW author, says:

“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. 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.”

Driving empowerment in the workplace

PwC’s Global Empowerment Index found that there is a significant gender empowerment gap, with men being more empowered in the workplace than women. This Empowerment Index is based on an analysis of gender-focused perspectives from almost 22,000 working women across the world and measures 12 factors of empowerment across four dimensions of empowerment: autonomy; impact; meaning and belonging; and confidence and competence.

The four most important workplace empowerment factors for women, which are also the top four considerations for women deciding to make career changes, are:

  • Fair compensation (72%)

  • Job fulfilment (69%)

  • A workplace where they can truly be themselves (67%)

  • Having a team that cares about their wellbeing (61%)

The research found that men and women are broadly similar in how important each empowerment factor is to them. However, men were more likely than women to say that they actually benefited from these factors at work. The biggest gap areas for women are fair reward (34 point gap), choosing when (27 point gap), where (22 point gap) and how (22 point gap) they work, job fulfilment (20 point gap) and having a manager consider their viewpoint when making decisions (19 point gap).

Why does empowerment matter? 

The women in the survey with the highest empowerment scores were more likely to ask for a raise (55%), and more likely to ask for a promotion (52%). This compares with scores of 31% (24 point gap) and 26% (26 point gap) respectively for women in our survey overall. 

The most empowered women are also more likely to recommend their employer as a place to work (67%), a significant 32 percentage points higher than women respondents overall. They are also significantly more likely to say they are very satisfied with their job (54%), compared with 25% of women overall (29 point gap). 

According to PwC’s Global Empowerment Index, the most empowered women workers are working in the Technology, Media and Telecommunications sector, driven specifically by the Technology industry for which women are slightly more empowered than men. Women working in the Financial Services and Energy, Utilities and Resources sectors are the second and third most empowered, but men are significantly more empowered than women in Financial Services.

Bob Moritz, PwC Global Chairman:

“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. 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.

Parul Munshi, Workforce Transformation Partner, South East Asia Consulting, PwC Singapore, said:

“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.”

26th ceo survey

Contact us

Ryan Stanton

Global Corporate Affairs & Communications, Managing Director, PwC United States

+1 310-367-1045


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PwC’s UK’s Women in Work Index: The five indicators that make up the Women in Work Index are: the gender pay gap, the female labour force participation rate, the gap between male and female labour force participation rates, the female unemployment rate, and the female full-time employment rate. The full Women In Work Index can be found here

PwC’s Global Empowerment Index: PwC’s Global Empowerment Index is based on an analysis of gender-focused perspectives from almost 22,000 working women across the world (at different employers, industries and institutions external to PwC) who responded to PwC’s Global Hopes and Fears Survey, which polled more than 52,000 workers across 44 countries. To find out more about PwC’s #EmpoweringWomen IWD activities and explore the global, regional, and country level data of PwC’s Empowerment Index, visit

PwC is committed to promoting inclusion and diversity. To build a community of solvers who deliver human-led, tech-powered solutions, we draw from a multidisciplinary talent pool with a diverse set of skills, experiences and perspectives. Helping our people develop the skills needed to value diversity and think, act and lead inclusively allows us to realise the full potential of this incredible community, while fostering a stronger culture of belonging for our people. Visit to find out more about our Global Inclusion First strategy and here to learn more about how we are championing gender equity. PwC is also an Alliance Partner of the UN Women HeForShe initiative, the alliance brings together the world’s most ambitious leaders to accelerate progress towards gender equity. Find out more here.

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