Companies in the Asia Pacific with no gender pay gap perform over 50 percent better than companies that pay female employees less than male employees, according to a new report released on International Women's Day by global financial market data provider Refinitiv.
Refinitiv, a subsidiary of the London Stock Exchange Group, analyzed five stock market indices to compare the performance of companies that have no gender pay gap with those that have a negative pay gap for women. Across all the indices, the gender pay gap equated to a performance gap, with the average difference in performance being around 58 percent globally.
Some parts of the world, however, display larger performance gaps than others. In the Asia Pacific region, the performance gap resulting from underpaying women is 55.1 percent, slightly below the global average; in Europe, the performance gap is just 33 percent. And in North America, the performance gap is a whopping 136 percent. However, Refinitiv did not examine whether the size of the pay gap correlates to the size of the performance gap.
Vernice Moh, Managing Director, ASEAN, Data & Analytics, London Stock Exchange Group, said that companies in the Asia Pacific have shown “encouraging progress” in gender equality over the last five years, with greater gender diversity on boards and more diversity-related corporate disclosures. However, she pointed out that companies' tendency to underpay women relative to men remains problematic.
“The gender pay gap remains one of the most pertinent and persistent issues that needs to be addressed,” Moh said. “Apart from strengthening a company’s ability to attract a diverse and talented workforce, our report also shows that companies with equal pay tend to outperform those with a disparity in pay between genders. Moving forward, companies should be more transparent about disclosing their efforts to narrow the gender wage gap and establishing actionable D&I targets to advance the region’s march towards gender equality.”
Refinitiv's data also threw up some interesting points. Contrary to perceptions of the technology industry as being less friendly to women, the report actually shows that across the regions analyzed, technology equipment is the industry least likely to have a gender pay gap.
Also, the researchers found a small group of companies with a positive female pay gap—in other words, companies that pay female employees more than male employees. This group of companies performed no better than the ones paying men more. The report states: “Our results speak to the role of equality, with all equal pay portfolios outperforming those with a disparity in pay between genders.”