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Gender Pay Gap Worsens Within European Life Sciences Industry

Results from a new report issued 15 June 2021 by the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA) Europe region reveals no marked improvement but rather a clear increase in the gender pay gap between men and women in the life sciences sector in Europe. While the “Reducing the Gender Pay Gap to Drive Success in the Healthcare Industry” report reveals there are notable variations between countries and in different life sciences industries, the data shows a median gender pay gap increase from 11 percent to 13 percent over the past two years since the first issue of the report in 2018.

“As pointed out in the report, this past year has been extremely challenging as we struggled to carve out a new norm around the pandemic, making a strong case to act fast and revitalise our efforts toward gender equity,” said Laurie Cooke, President and CEO, HBA. “Data shows that stresses on women in our industry’s workforce has increased more than it has for men and this look at pay inequities clearly documents these facts.”

While the pandemic has forced governments to make quick decisions to protect their communities, this added pressure on female employees comes at a time where some European governments have also paused gender pay gap reporting, according to the report. Following are excerpts from the report drawing distinctions among representative countries, industry sectors, company size, business functions, and job categories pertaining to gender pay and gender bonus gaps:

As the data shows, there is an overall median pay gap of around 13 percent favouring men. However, as Europe is not homogeneous, the pay gap differs significantly between countries. In seven of the 23 countries included in the report, there is a pay gap in women’s favour, while in 10 countries there are double digit differences favouring men.

To understand how countries compare, it is necessary to look at the underlying pay mix (base pay, bonus) and establish how pay gaps differ on the total rewards level comparing findings of the 2018 and 2010 reports. For example, focusing on Germany, France, Switzerland, and the UK provide interesting insights:

France has the lowest median gender pay gap across all four countries, reducing the median pay gap from 7.5 percent in 2018 to 4.8 percent in 2020. However, they have the second largest gender bonus gap, which decreased from 29.2 percent in 2018 to 20 percent in 2020. They have slightly fewer females than males receiving a bonus award.

In the UK, the median gender pay gap also decreased from 13 percent to 5.1 percent, which is slightly higher than France. The gender bonus gap also decreased from 30 percent to 16 percent and they have more females than males receiving a bonus award.

In Germany, the median gender pay gap is 7.3 percent, which is unchanged from 2018. However, the median bonus pay gap has increased from 4.1 percent to 15.5 percent and more males than females received a bonus in the two-year period.

Switzerland scored worse for both gender pay gap and gender bonus gap. Out of these four countries analysed in detail, they were the only one to show an increase in median gender pay gap from 8.3 percent to 11.4 percent. They also had the largest increase in gender bonus gap from 19.6 percent to 34.5 percent. More males than females received a bonus in 2018 and 2020.

In comparing different sectors within the life sciences space, the median gender pay gap varies greatly.

While commercial bio-pharma companies tend to be close to the life sciences median, the data shows much higher pay differences in pre-commercial bio-pharma and medical device companies. Clinical research organizations, together with contract manufacturing organizations, have the lowest median gender pay gap in the industry at 8 percent. The “Reducing the Gender Pay Gap…” report also offers comparisons between size of organisations, business function, and job categories. To download the full report that includes recommendations and strategies on how to close the gender pay gap from the report authors, visit HBA Research Studies.

The report used Aon proprietary data sample that contains data on more than 155,000 employees from more than 220 companies across the life sciences sector in Europe.


About the HBA
The Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA) is a global not-for-profit organization dedicated to furthering the advancement and impact of women in the business of healthcare. With 55 locations throughout the United States, Canada and Europe, the HBA serves a community of more than 60,000 individuals and nearly 170 corporate partners. The HBA provides networking forums to build relationships; access to industry thought leaders to broaden perspective; educational programs to develop leadership skills and global recognition of outstanding individuals and companies to promote visibility of their achievements in advancing gender parity in the workplace.
For more information, visit  #HBAimpact #4GenParity

About Aon
Aon plc (NYSE:AON) is a leading global professional services firm providing a broad range of risk, retirement and health solutions. Our 50,000 colleagues in 120 countries empower results for clients by using proprietary data and analytics to deliver insights that reduce volatility and improve performance.