Swiss Company Leadership and the Gender Divide (2008-2018) – Report

Earlier this month, PwC joined forces with the data insight company Business-Monitor to publish a new gender parity analysis of all companies registered in Switzerland about the development of gender inequality within the workforce over the past decade. “This report aims to bring a new perspective on the representation of women in decision-making positions in the Swiss economy and how the landscape has changed over the past ten years.(Swiss Company Leadership and the Gender Divide, 2008-2018)

Key findings

  1. Women are “stuck” at lower-level decision making roles and change is not about to occur. The research confirms that the “glass ceiling” metaphor is not a myth. In 2018, less than one in four decision-makers in Swiss businesses are women. Over the past ten years, this rate has consistently diminished, as in 2008, the proportion of females in decision-making roles was one in three.
  2. There is a surprising difference between female representation trends of Limited companies (LTDs) and Limited Liability companies (LLCs). Although gender imbalance is lower in LLCs, both types of legal entities have an unequal percentage of women in decision-making roles (16.8% for LTDs and 27.1% for LLCs, in 2018) and an uneven gender spread across the responsibility hierarchy. This trend has slightly improved over the last decade in LTDs but the data shows that this is not the case for LLCs. An overall 2.2% drop in females holding decision-making roles can be observed over the past 10 years. Although LTDs are the best examples of the “glass ceiling” phenomenon, it is harder to break in LCCs.
  3. Gender balance is poorer in newer companies. With the efforts undertaken by the Swiss government and other worldwide organizations to raise awareness for equal pay and representation, one would assume that newly established companies are the front runners in terms of balanced workforces. Surprisingly, research shows that this is not the case. Companies founded after 2008 have a higher gender imbalanced rate than pre-existing ones.

What’s next?

The striking statistical data raises important questions as to why these gender imbalances exist, what strategies companies can implement to tackle them and why it would be beneficial for them do so. Indeed, the report identifies a compelling business case for gender equality, which can only be achieved through: a clear vision, leadership engagement and an action plan engaging the entire workforce and key partners to be more Diverse & Inclusive. These actions can ignite the change so your organization can be part of the journey to gender parity across the globe.

To understand where your organization is today regarding Diversity & Inclusion, we encourage you to take our short survey. After completion, you will receive an assessment indicating the strengths and opportunity areas of your program. You will also receive indications on how you compare to the benchmark of other companies in your region and industry.

At PwC we are committed to becoming more Diverse and Inclusive through a number of ongoing actions, including the HeforShe program. Our active HeforShe ambassadors are committed to ensuring equal pay for our workforce by becoming EQUAL-SALARY Certified.

We look forward to engaging in conversations with you on this topic.

PwC Switzerland
Sue Johnson
Tel. +41 58 792 90 98

PwC Switzerland
Christina Yap
Tel +41 58 792 90 29

PwC research “Time to talk”: what has to change for women at work?

Many organisations are working hard to improve the Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) of their workforce, many with a specific focus on gender balance at leadership level. There is no one single bullet which can solve this complex challenge, it takes: time, commitment, vision and resilience to foster an Inclusive culture where everyone can flourish.

Recent PwC research “time to talk” highlights three areas for organisations for focus on to accelerate progress:

Transparency and trust – a way of conducting business in which employers offer their staff a clear understanding of the expectations on both sides of the employment equation.

What employers can do includes:

  • Provide consistent, accurate, accessible information about career progression and pay scales.
  • Hold open conversations with employees on where they stand and what is expected of them to advance.

Strategic support – networks mobilising women. Women need proactive networks of leaders and peers who will develop, promote and champion them at home and in the workplace.

What employers can do includes:

  • Role models of both genders to look up to and learn from
  • Mentors who help navigate the path to success
  • Sponsors who can push her to the next level
  • A circle outside of work who reinforce and support career aspirations

Life, family, care and work – we are all facing increasing demands from all walks of life, parenting, community for example, there is a need to find organisation solutions that work for all.

What employers can do includes:

  • Offer an on and off ramp strategy and policy, educating managers how to deal with returners to work, focussing on communication and a toolkit
  • Flexible friendly workplace, it is not just enough to have the policy, visible support is required from top leadership and education
  • Little visible steps can make big differences, for example a concierge at work or childcare solution support

A Diverse and Inclusive organisation is reached, one conversation at a time…

Read more about the PwC research “time to talk” and download the full report here.


PwC Switzerland
Sue Johnson
Tel. +41 58 792 90 98

Swiss company leadership & the gender divide (2008-2018)

PwC supports major new Business-Monitor survey of all registered Swiss companies revealing true extent of gender inequality

To mark International Women’s Day on 8 March, PwC has joined forces with data insight company Business-Monitor to launch a major new gender parity analysis of all companies registered in Switzerland, designed to show the true state of gender inequality in this country. Drawing on state-of-the-art research, intelligence and data analytics technologies, it dispels some of the speculation to give a much more accurate snapshot of the status quo than was previously possible.

Sobering, but differentiated, findings
While some of the findings are sobering – in many cases confirming the generally slow pace of progress towards gender parity in Swiss business – the study also provides some intriguing new insights which the initiators hope will stimulate a much broader and informed conversation going forward. Particularly valuable is the granularity of the study, which yields a very differentiated picture: findings are broken down by type of company (limited company, limited liability company and sole proprietorship); by industry; by hierarchical level of executive and non-executive roles; and by canton and language region.

Despite the fact that the Swiss constitution itself prohibits any type of discrimination based on gender, and various legal measures have been implemented to foster equality at the workplace, the study suggests that current efforts are not enough. This report aims to make a constructive contribution by providing more detailed and objective insights, shedding light on some challenges that have gone unnoticed, and provoking thought and discussion of the issues.

Food for thought
First, some stark facts reported in the study emerging from the 2017 World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Index:

  • Switzerland has fallen ten places to 21st in the latest ranking
  • Top countries in the ranking are making progress, but Switzerland has flatlined in terms of gender equality
  • Switzerland ranks only 43rd globally in terms of the proportion of leadership roles held by women (just 35.6%)

Inverse gender relations
Do you see a pattern?

Select study findings confirming existing perceptions:

  • The glass ceiling is still a reality at both executive and non-executive (director) levels – even in industries where women are better represented overall.
  • It’s easier for a woman to become a decision-maker in some industries than in others.
  • At the current rate it will take decades to achieve the goal of parity at decision-maker level.

Some new insights:

  • There is less gender diversity at top management levels in newly created companies than at established organisations.
  •  The proportion of female partners across all limited liability companies in Switzerland has declined steadily since 2008 – a worrying and completely unexpected observation. Simply put, it’s less common for women to start a business than it is for men.
  • Women are better represented at the decision-making level than in the general workforce in some traditionally ‘masculine’ industries such as the primary and construction sectors.

What next?
The author, Florent Schläppi, invites anyone interested in this subject to reach out to him for further discussion of the insights. Together with his co-authors from PwC, we hope that the important questions raised by Business-Monitor data will lead to further discoveries.

Some of the questions worth considering:

  • What’s behind the differences in gender parity between cantons and language areas?
  • How can the decline in women partners be reversed?
  • How can companies develop a culture supporting part-time work for both women and men and promote greater female boardroom presence?
  • Ultimately, how can we make a mentality of ‘think manager, think male’ a thing of the past?

Check out the full Swiss company leadership & the gender divide (2008-2018) report and contact Business-Monitor or us to continue the discussion. Let’s make International Women’s Day the start of something new!

Swiss Equal Pay Regulatory update: the conversation continues regarding pay equality

Swiss Equal Pay

On the 28th February, the Conseil des Etats (Swiss Parliament) rejected by a vote of 25 to 19 the proposed equal pay legislation. This is where organisations with over 50 employees would be required to carry out a regular (every 4 years) pay analysis, to ensure there is no discrimination between the pay of men and women. This analysis would then have to be reviewed by an approved independent 3rd party (eg an audit firm or an equal pay specialist recognised by the Federal Office for Gender Equality), and the results communicated to their employees (and shareholders where applicable).

Following this decision, the Parliament have requested the commission to consider alternatives and re-submit a new proposition for consideration, as the pay gap within Switzerland remains over 12% (FOS 2018) and the belief is that voluntary measures alone will not ensure organisations pay their male and female employees equally. Many governments in Europe are legislating that organisations measure and communicate their pay gap to all eg UK, Germany and Iceland.

The benefits of Equal Pay

Much research has been carried out on the benefits of a Diverse & Inclusive organisation (over 75% of CEOs who invested in D&I saw enhanced business performance and greater capacity for innovation within their organisations), paying employees equally for equal work is a fundamental part of an organisations Diversity & Inclusion strategy, as it has been shown to drive higher employee engagement, improves the organisations employee value proposition for potential talent, reduced potential reputation risk and also enhances retention.

Next steps

We recommend the following actions:

  • Be transparent regarding your total reward approach, educating employees on your compensation policy and strategy
  • Review your HR practices and policies for potential unconscious bias which could lead to pay discrimination between men and women
  • Carry out an analysis of your employee reward data to ensure there is no pay discrimination between men and women
  • Consider seeking an independent certification for your organisation which demonstrates your commitment to equal pay (eg certification by the independent non-profit the Equal-Salary Foundation.

We are keeping a close watch on any developments in this area, and will let you know as soon as we learn anything new.
Please feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss this important topic in more detail.

PwC Switzerland
Sue Johnson
Tel. +41 58 792 90 98

PwC Switzerland
Johannes (Joop) Smits
Tel. +41 58 792 91 64

Assess your organisation’s Diversity & Inclusion program with PwC

We know that Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) is good for business. Organisations that invest in D&I report seeing a number of advantages, such as an increased ability to attract talent, greater innovation and improved financial performance.

At PwC, we’ve found that the most effective D&I programs are comprised of four dimensions:

  • Understanding the Facts of Today
  • Building an Inspirational Strategy
  • Equipping Leaders for success
  • Creating Sustainable Movement

Take our short survey to assess your organisation’s Diversity & Inclusion program

Our new survey enables you to self-assess your maturity across those dimensions.

Click here to take our short survey and get your personnal Inclusion & Diversity assessment

The survey is short and easy to use, and when you finish the survey, you’ll receive an assessment of where your program is strongest and where there are areas of opportunity, as well as providing a benchmark of how you compare to others in your region and industry.

Take our short survey and get your personnal Diversity & Inclusion assessment

For more information on interpreting the results for your organisation or advice on how to become more Diverse and Inclusive, please contact Sue Johnson:

Sue Johnson
Senior Manager, Inclusion & Diversity, PwC Geneva / +41 58 792 90 98

Winning the fight for female talent: How to gain the diversity edge through inclusive recruitment

Gain the diversity edge through inclusive recruitment

Today, more and more CEOs regard talent diversity and inclusion as vital to their organisation’s ability to drive innovation and gain competitive advantage. And as businesses across the world inject greater urgency into their gender diversity efforts, we’re seeing an intensifying focus on hiring female talent. In fact, 78% of large organisations tell us they’re actively seeking to hire more women – especially into more experienced and senior level positions.

PwC’s new report, Winning the fight for female talent, explores how organisations are seeking to deliver on their gender diversity attraction goals. We also examine the impact of these approaches and – more generally – how they’re matching up to the career aspirations and diversity experiences and expectations of the modern workforce.

Download the full report here.