Gender Pay Gap Within European Healthcare May Significantly Impact Industry’s Ability to Attract Talent | HBA

Gender Pay Gap Within European Healthcare May Significantly Impact Industry’s Ability to Attract Talent

New report from the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association and Aon shows 11 percent median pay gap between genders 

Results from a new report issued today by the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA), in partnership with Aon, a leading consulting company, shows a significant disparity in median pay between men and women in the life science sector in Europe. The gender pay gap is larger in Europe than elsewhere in the world, including Asia and North America. This is particularly evident in research and development (R&D) positions - compared to general management - and in smaller organisations. The biggest disparity is seen in the proportion of bonuses given. 

“In life sciences, it is a challenge to find and retain a strong talent pool, of which women are a central part. Women make up the majority of healthcare professionals so it is disappointing that their talent is not being rewarded as equally as for men. If this isn’t urgently addressed, we will be unable to attract and retain a diverse workforce, which could have a significant and detrimental impact to our healthcare industry,” comments Laurie Cooke, president and CEO, HBA.

Countries compared 
Data was collected by Aon from 36 European countries across more than 120 companies. The report ‘Reducing The Gender Pay Gap To Drive Success In The Healthcare Industry’ highlights an overall median pay gap of around 11 percent, which is significantly higher than that seen in North America (8.9 percent) and Asia (-18.2 percent).1

There is also a clear gender pay gap difference between countries, with the UK performing worst in terms of both median gender pay (13 percent) and median gender bonus gaps (30 percent) when compared with Germany (7.3 percent and 4.1 percent, respectively), France (7.5 percent and 29.2 percent, respectively) and Switzerland (8.3 percent and 19.5 percent, respectively). In some countries, such as Finland and Sweden, there is a pay gap in favour of women; however, in others there is a double digit difference in favour of men, including in the UK and many central European countries.1

Sectors scrutinised 
The report goes on to highlight that women working in R&D positions fare worst, with a median gender pay gap of 18.2 percent and median gender bonus gap of 44.3 percent. Comparing this to general management (11.1 percent and 24.1 percent, respectively) and marketing/business development positions (5.8 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively), it is evident that support for women in business in the R&D sector is lacking. For those working as executives, the median gender pay gap is minimal and even in favour of women (-2.4 percent), compared to those working in management (8.1 percent). Similarly for bonuses, for executives the disparity is 4.7 percent and for management it is 10.6 percent.1

Inequality across industries 
The gender pay gap also varies according to the type of industry. Looking at the two extremes, there is a much greater disparity in median pay and bonuses for those working in diagnostic and medical devices companies (19.2 percent), compared with those working in much larger institutions and foundations (2.9 percent).1  

Solution strategies 
Desk research to determine approaches to resolve the gender pay gap emphasises the need to redress ‘traditional’ gender roles to allow both men and women to benefit from a healthy home-work-life balance, and a more equitable society to the benefit of all. There is also a need for greater regulation and transparency to address the imbalance observed according to an employee’s position and function within individual organisations.1

“Companies will need to recognise that gender pay is a major people risk area, not only due to regulatory pressures but also to ensure sustainable talent attractiveness. Managing the risk will require data and analytics to ensure an attractive employee value proposition,” comments Piotr Bednarczuk, senior partner and head of strategic advisory for Aon EMEA.

Solution strategies include attracting the right talent and increasing the entry level talent pool to help restore the balance further up the management chain. The next important step is to retain that talent through development of policies and culture, such as flexible working hours, family orientation, networking and mentorship, and recognition programmes. Training programmes to upskill women into leadership roles are important, as well as partnerships with other organisations that focus on development programmes for women. The HBA acts as an important conduit in these partnerships.

“We call upon life science organisations across healthcare to join us in raising awareness of varied solutions to deliver gender parity. And most importantly, take action to measure and achieve them, so that we can ensure a thriving industry to serve patients by delivering a better healthcare industry through diversity,” comments Kathrin Schoenborn-Sobolewski, HBA Europe regional chair.


About the HBA
Core purpose: To further the advancement and impact of women in the business of healthcare.
The Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association is a global non-profit organisation comprised of individuals and organisations from across the healthcare industry committed to:

  • achieving gender parity in leadership positions
  • facilitating career and business connections
  • providing effective practices that enable organisations to realise the full potential of their female talent

The HBA accomplishes its mission through strong business networks, education, research, advocacy and recognition for individuals and companies.

About Aon plc
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. For further information, please visit

If you have any questions about this report or the HBA, please do not hesitate to contact: 

Ingrid Marchal-Gerez
Regional President, marketing & communications Centre of Excellence, HBA Europe


Nancy White
Director, marketing, communications & digital strategy, HBA 


1HBA and Aon. Reducing the gender pay gap to drive success in the healthcare industry

* Gender Pay Gap – A measure of the difference between men and women's average earnings across an organisation or the labour market. It is expressed as a percentage of men's earnings. Source: Equality and Human Rights Commission