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!

The ethics of pay - striking the proper balance

With growing wealth disparity around the world (the eight richest people are worth as much as half the world’s population) and the erosion of the wealth of many families, executive compensation has come under serious scrutiny. A recent study by PwC in partnership with the London School of Economics, “The ethics of pay in a fair society — What do executives think?”, looks at how executives around the world consider principles of distributive justice as they apply to compensation in their organizations and society.

The key challenge in distributive justice is that some of the basic principles of fairness are mutually incompatible. Consider principles based on need, equality and contribution, for example. Only in the truly exceptional case where all people have the same exact needs and have performed exactly the same will the principles agree. Thus, as the researchers argue, achieving complete perceived fairness is an impossible task. An encouraging result of the PwC study is that executives have views of fairness that acknowledge this conundrum. They tend to show the strongest support for four very different principles:

It seems rather than thinking the market should decide, or that pay systems should ensure that individuals be able to live a dignified life, executives believe compensation at the organizational and societal levels should incorporate elements of both. This is heartening because in the perfect world there should always be some balance. Contribution-based principles provide an incentive for performance, need-based principles ensure basic dignity is met for most people and equality-based principles ensure some sense of shared identity. The trick is to find the right balance.

The authors identify four groups of people, or “tribes”, that address this question of balance in different ways, giving greater weight to a one or two principles over the others; one intriguing result is that older people would rather have the market decide, while younger people prefer protection on basic needs and dignity in our compensation systems. Moreover, in the case of both companies and society, respondents generally believe that we are failing, not only to meet standards for equality of opportunity, but also to provide compensation sufficient for basic human needs and a sense of dignity.

Why should we care? Given the growing concern over inequality in the world, it is incumbent upon us to create systems that ensure market success and performance for our firms, but also remember the lessons of Louis XVI and the Romanovs. If key principles of fairness are not met, societies tend to crumble and those on top find themselves in unhappy circumstances. As Will and Ariel Durant noted, when such an imbalance has existed historically, we’ve seen a correction either through “legislation redistributing wealth or by revolution distributing poverty”.

Read more


Dr. Robert Kuipers
Partner People & Organisation PwC
+41 58 792 45 30

Remo Schmid
Partner People & Organisation, PwC
+41 58 792 46 08


Inclusion and Diversity – how employee benefits can show you mean what you say

Diversity and inclusion is in the headlines. Boardroom representation, unconscious gender bias and equal pay are big news on the business pages. So what is diversity and inclusion (D&I)? Diversity is about all the ways we are different, our uniqueness. Inclusion is being valued for this difference. To put it simply, diversity is about being invited to the party, inclusion is about being allowed to dance.

Research shows that having a diverse and inclusive workforce improves business performance and is crucial to attracting talents. For businesses it also means you’re echoing your (diverse) customer base. Many of the best innovations have been shown to come from leveraging the organisation’s diverse employee base to generate ideas that reflect the diverse market place of today and most importantly tomorrow.

1 Source: Harvard Business Review, “How Diversity Can Drive Innovation”, December 2013
2 Source: PwC, 18th Annual Global CEO Survey, 2015
3 Source: PwC, The Female Millennial, 2016

What does this mean for HR?

HR have a key role to play in this area, both as an enabler for the CEO’s agenda, and as the organisation’s ambassador against reputation damage inside and outside the business. HR are best placed to understand the different needs of a diverse population of employees, and execute the changes needed to foster an inclusive workplace.

What are those needs? It’s recognising “one size does not fit all”, particularly when it comes to policies and benefits. Some employees value career progression, others focus on wages, while many will want to understand the flexible benefit arrangements offered. How you provide for these diverse needs affects both the talent that you want to retain within your organisation and the employer brand to prospective talents.

We were recently asked: What does diversity and inclusion mean for the benefits we offer employees? Benefits can be grouped as “intangible” benefits, which have an unclear cost and benefit, but can be highly valued, and traditional employee benefits like retirement, insurances and other offers. Both can play a big part in fostering diversity and inclusion. The design of benefit packages and offers can incentivise and support the change we want to see in our workforce whether this is ensuring our pension plans accept same-sex partnerships, flexibility around religious holidays or even allowing adoption leave.

Intangible benefits – hidden value?

Each employee will value intangible benefits very differently, some seeing no real value while others may see this as key when choosing an employer. Many employers forget that intangible benefits can have the biggest value to employees, but at the lowest cost. And these benefits can be essential to a diverse workforce. Here are some examples:

  • Flexible working culture – What is your policy on working from home? How do you ensure that technology is up to speed to allow mobile working? What is the dress code? For example, are shorts allowed in summer time? Offering flexibility in how and when people work has been shown to boost employee engagement and is critical to meeting the needs of a diverse workforce. Are you looking at that?
  • Wellness – Healthier people perform better, cost less and cause fewer risks to the organisation. Physical health initiatives are already common place. The next wave is financial wellness. Some employers are looking to help employees manage their financials. A healthy employee with a mind free of financial stress is more engaged and more innovative.
  • Career progression – Lack of career progression opportunities is a key reason why some leave their jobs. Solely throwing pay at employees is not the answer, supporting career progression by being transparent about job opportunities, providing role models and mentoring is. To support diversity, you need to offer the right types of training alongside mentoring support, sometimes targeted at minority groups.

Traditional benefits – supporting and protecting the message

Traditional employee benefits can also impact the diversity and inclusion agenda:

  • Supporting and enabling the diversity agenda – Our benefit package can back up what we say. If we say we are a diverse employer, our benefit packages must be diverse too. Flexibility and choice is the natural ally of D&I, whether this is different levels of pension contributions, opt in/out insurance policies or buying or selling extra holidays.
  • Eroding the message – Good work on diversity and inclusion can be undone by benefits that do not align with diversity. If we only give employees leave when their child is born, but not when they adopt a child, what message does this send? Getting design wrong may turn our messages upside down.

What can you do about it?

We see two obvious steps to take:

  • Analyse and diagnose what you do today – Do your benefits, both intangible and traditional, support the diversity and inclusion agenda of the organisation? As well as a deep dive into the terms and conditions around your benefits, you may also need to analyse outcomes and how these look for different social groups.
  • Communicate and engage – Engaging employees on this is one way to show how important you see this topic. Communicate what you’ve found and get feedback on what employees themselves value. You may find low-cost options with high value to employees. Employee surveys can help, but simple direct engagement may be more valuable.

Not just buzzwords

Diversity and inclusion are not just new “buzzwords”. The workforce and customer base will continue to become even more diverse. Legislation, such as equal salary legislation, will force companies to ensure they are treating people fairly and equally. Getting your benefit packages right is one way to both enhance and support the diversity and inclusion agenda. Time to get on the dancefloor.


Adrian Jones
Director, People and Organisation
Tel: +41 58 792 4013

Sue Johnson
Senior Manager, People and Organisation
Tel. +41 58 792 90 98

5 micro-actions to drive Equal Pay in your workforce

Does Santa arrive on February 24 with Christmas presents for your daughters?

As parents we strive to treat our children the same, after-school activities, homework, pocket money, household chores – boys and girls get the same, the thought of making our daughters wait until almost the end of February for their Christmas presents whilst watching their brother open theirs on Christmas Day seems unthinkable!

This unthinkable however becomes a reality once we enter the grown up world of work. The average women in Switzerland needs to work 551 days longer than a man to earn the same salary, for the same work – this year’s equal pay day was on February 24. According to the European Commission, at the current rate of progress, the salary gap will close by 20772, by then my daughters will be 78 and 76 years old! And I (probably) sadly will not be around to witness this fundamental measurement of equality take place.

Government legislation regarding non-discrimination has been in force for years, and 73 countries in Europe have even gone so far as to legislate the representation of men and women on company boards. How come in-equal pay is still acceptable for equal work?

We can all make a difference to closing the gap by carrying out these conscious micro-actions every day:

Drive equal-pay for men and women with PwC

1. Set starting salaries based on internal benchmarks – not previous salary levels

As human beings, we are all susceptible to unconscious biases, one of these is called ‘anchoring’. This is where our mind gets fixed on an initial number (the previous salary), with the result that when it comes to offering a new salary, there is a tendency to anchor too much on someone’s current salary instead of what the job is actually worth.

A micro-action Google has taken is to exclude the candidate’s previous salary data from the hiring process. The results are clear – during 2015, women hired at Google received a salary increase on joining that was 30% higher on average than their male counterparts4.

Another simple action is to use pre-defined salary grids, the pay gap starts when people enter the workforce (in the UK, male apprentices are paid upto 2.0oo GBP p.a more than their female colleagues)5 widely communicating and tracking the adherence to these starting salaries will level the playing field.


2. Regularly track and monitor your workforce pay – know your numbers

Take emotion out of the equation by monitoring on an ongoing basis the compensation of your talent to identify and action any discrepancies. Research shows that 25% of Companies5 are not regularly tracking this data. In addition, we all want to attract the very best talent to our organization, over 90% of potential candidates will choose to work for an employer that publically states they pay equally.


3. Be aware of the “Breadwinner” bias – seek a challenger for your pay decisions

Have you ever awarded a higher pay rise to a man because you knew they were the sole income earner of the family? I know this is a hard question to answer no to truthfully. A solution could be to benchmark and seek input and challenge from peers and HR. When comparing multiple data sets, unconscious biases are mitigated and decisions based on fact and proof.


4. Review your reward policies to ensure fairness in remuneration practices

HR policies are the building blocks of how we manage the hire to retire cycle of our employees, often they can be: written, published and then set in stone. I encourage you to review these policies and practices to ensure there is fairness in all remuneration and recognition procedures. Be transparent with your workforce, clearly stating what you value and recognize, and how they will be assessed and rewarded. This ensures everyone has the tools and knowledge at their fingertips of what it takes to “get on”.


5. Become an EQUAL-SALARY employer

Finally, and most importantly, “Talk the Walk” – by becoming an EQUAL-SALARY employer. Every company and culture has a different approach to how they talk about salaries, for some it is taboo and others a dinner party conversation topic. The key is to recognize and understand where are the gaps (for top earners the gap is higher than low earners – 20% vs 5%7) and put in place process interrupters (e.g. user salary grid when discussing promotions) to permanently ensure we are proactively and objectively rewarding and promoting the men and women who deserve it.

Through these micro-actions every one of us can ensure Santa arrives on the same day for everyone.


PwC are partners with the EQUAL-SALARY Foundation – certifying companies that pay men and women equally around the globe.










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.


Steady progress in boosting female economic empowerment, but gender pay gap still a major issue

PwC Women in Work Index

Prize of pay parity in OECD could mean US$2 trillion increase in total female earnings

Latest PwC Women in Work Index reveals:

  • Gradual improvement in female economic empowerment in OECD
  • Nordic countries still lead the way, with Iceland, Sweden and Norway taking top 3 spots
  • Poland climbs into top 10 thanks to gains in cutting female unemployment
  • Other top 10 places held by New Zealand, Slovenia, Denmark, Luxembourg, Finland and Switzerland
  • But gender pay gap poses major challenge, with parity still decades if not centuries away
  • Potential prize of closing the gap could boost total female earnings by US$2 trillion

21st February, 2017 – Slow but steady progress continues to be made in OECD countries towards greater female economic empowerment, according to a new PwC report.

But the gender pay gap continues to be a major issue, with the average working woman in the OECD still earning 16% less than her male counterpart – despite becoming better qualified.

The latest PwC Women in Work Index, which measures levels of female economic empowerment across 33 OECD countries based on five key indicators, shows that the Nordic countries – particularly Iceland, Sweden and Norway – continue to occupy the top positions on the Index. Poland stands out for achieving the largest annual improvement, rising from 12th to 9th. This is due to a fall in female unemployment and an increase in the full-time employment rate.

PwC analysis shows that there are significant economic benefits in the long term from increasing the female employment rate to match that of Sweden; the GDP gains across the OECD could be around US$6 trillion.


When it comes to closing the gender pay gap, countries such as Poland, Luxembourg and Belgium could see the gap fully close within two decades if historical trends continue. But much slower historical progress in Germany and Spain means that their gap might not close for more than two centuries, although making this a policy priority could accelerate progress. The gains from achieving pay parity in the OECD are substantial – it could result in a potential boost in female earnings of around US$2 trillion at today’s values.

Download the full report here.



Hans Geene
+41 58 792 9124

Charles Donkor
+41 58 792 4554

New report: PwC’s 20th Global CEO Survey – Harnessing the power of human skills in the machine age

The talent challenge: Harnessing the power of human skills in the machine age

pwc_ceo survey_2017

With the rise of automation, we’ve reached a point where we’re questioning the role people play in the workplace. How to achieve the right mix of people and machines in the workplace is the critical talent question of our age.

Fifty-two percent of CEOs say that they’re exploring the benefits of humans and machine working together and 39% are considering the impact of Artificial Intelligence on future skills needs. This is a delicate balancing act for CEOs in every sector and region.

However, you can’t have a machine age without humans and 52% are planning to increase headcount over the next 12 months. They are focused on obtaining the skills that they need to create a world where humans and machines work alongside each other.

Different skills will be needed, roles will disappear and others will evolve. Some organisations will need fewer people, but others will need more. There will be a rebalancing of human capital as organisations adjust.

Exceptional skills and leadership will be needed, and yet 77% of CEOs say they see the availability of key skills as the biggest business threat. Todays in demand skills are exclusively human capabilities – adaptability, problem solving, creativity and leadership. Software cannot imitate passion, character or collaborative spirit. By marrying these skills with technology, innovation can thrive and organisations can succeed in competitive market places.

CEOs have an enormous challenge ahead of them; it is the role of business leaders to protect and nurture their people to show that in the technological age, humans are their priority.

Our new report – The talent challenge: Harnessing the power of human skills in the machine age – looks at the dilemmas facing CEOs and their HR teams in today’s environment and how their businesses can stay ahead.

Download the full report here.



Hans Geene
+41 58 792 9124

Charles Donkor
+41 58 792 4554