Studies in US, UK and Australia reveal progress towards gender balance in opportunities, but women’s career advancement and pay still lag behind men’s

London, UK & Tel Aviv, Israel –  8  March, 2023: HiBob, the company behind Bob, the HR platform transforming how organizations operate in the modern world of work, today released a series of in-depth regional studies that provide insight into the experiences of women professionals in the modern workplace as seen through the lens of equity, inclusion and equality.

3,000 professional women across the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia aged 25 and older, and working full-time hybrid, remote, or on-site throughout the last two years (2021-2022) took part in this year’s study. 

The reports expose imbalances in both perception and experiences of women professionals in work, in  the areas of promotions, advancement, and confidence as well as salary perceptions, work-life balance and benefits. All this against the backdrop of two years fraught with challenges brought about by a post pandemic economy, looming recession and record inflation.

Significant improvements around women’s leadership in the workplace

Over half (55%) of UK respondents in 2023’s survey said their company showed a visible commitment to developing more women leaders in 2022 compared to 32% in the previous year. In the US, almost 50% reported the same compared to 31% over the same timeframes. Australia saw gains too, with 35% last year versus 28% in 2021. This indicates that roughly half of the companies employing women understand the importance of balancing the gender ratio in leadership and are taking steps to achieve more equality.

Promotions, advancement, and confidence 

Women’s confidence in their performance increased in the UK and US (92% and 86%, respectively) from last year’s survey results, while in Australia it decreased from 57% to 52%.  Last year’s UK survey showed that 74% of respondents said they had not been made to feel uncomfortable or less qualified due to their gender, increasing to 77% this year. In the US, 65% reported the same last year, rising to 68% this year. However, in Australia, the numbers decreased from 56% to 55% – indicating the level of incidences are gradually improving in the US and UK, but remain relatively unchanged for women in Australia.

In 2021, 63% of UK women and 64% of US women received a raise, more benefits, or promotion. Last year, 65% in the UK and 66% in the US reported the same. However, only 50% of Australian women received any of these in 2022 compared to 55% in 2021. Interestingly, women’s perception of being promoted equally to men has improved, with 57% in the UK, 54% in the US, and 41% in Australia answering “yes” this year up marginally from 2021.

Regarding equality in promotion, the results are more positive: UK women’s response remained at similar levels to 2021 with 57% saying they felt women were equally promoted to men. In the US, 54% responded positively this year, up from 53% last year. In Australia, 41% of respondents felt women were promoted equally this year, compared to 37% last year. The ultimate goal is for all women to feel equally promoted, without gender bias.

Salary perceptions and gender pay gap

63% of women in the UK said they received either a pay raise, more benefits, a promotion, or a combination of the three in 2021. Additionally, 64 % said the same in the US. For women in the UK and US, things improved in 2022: 65 % of respondents in the UK said they received a raise, more benefits, a promotion, or a combination; 66 % said the same in the US. 

In Australia, though, only 50 % of the women reported receiving any of the three in 2022 versus 55 % in 2021.

55% of UK women feel men and women are equally paid for the same role in 2022, up from 53% in the previous year. In the US, 49% said the same for 2022, down from 53% in 2021. Australian respondents showed the most improvement, with 35% feeling equal pay this past year, compared to 32% in 2021.

Work-life balance and benefits

Women value companies that offer women-specific benefits for inclusivity. However, our research found low percentages of companies offering paternity and shared parental leave benefits. In Australia, 26% of respondents reported that their company offers shared parental or paternity leave. The percentage in the UK and the US is 38% and 32% respectively. These numbers show only slight improvements from the previous year. Additionally, only 24 % of professional women in Australia, 30% in the US, and 32% in the UK said their employer offers extended paid maternity leave.

Women-specific benefits help overcome the unique challenges women face due to their sex. These challenges include overcoming absenteeism due to pregnancy and birth-related health issues, fertility treatments, and the additional complexities of caring for children. Providing women and men with flexibility and expanding women-specific benefits is key to helping all modern professionals achieve work-life balance and perform their best work at peak performance.

Economic uncertainty,  job security and women’s turnover rates

The tumultuous economy has everyone worried about the stability of their positions. The downturn during COVID had a disproportionate effect on women, and “led to more job losses among women than among men.” When  asked how worried they are about being let go, almost 60% of women in Australia said they were worried, followed by 47% in the UK and 39% in the US.

The pandemic induced phenomenon known as ‘The Great Resignation’, that registered record quit rates across all industries globally in 2021 appears to have come to an end in the US and UK with the rate at which women are quitting their jobs slowing in 2022.  Of the respondents, 27% of professional women in the US started a new job (15% quit, 12% were fired), while in the UK, only 15% changed jobs (13% quit, 2% were fired). Australia had the highest change rate, with 39% of women changing jobs (22% quit, 17% were fired). Overall the data points to professional women in the UK experiencing more professional stability in the last year than those in the US with Australia demonstrating major upheaval in their professional lives.

International Women’s Day is a time to celebrate women’s professional achievements around the world and gauge how far companies need to go to achieve true and lasting gender equity and equality. While companies still have a long way to go, we can’t ignore the significant progress achieved by the global workplace in recent years,” said Zoe Haimovitch, Sr Director of Strategic Comms at HiBob.

Zoe concludes: “In the post-COVID world, companies are more flexible and accommodating, and women have enjoyed more benefits and equality than ever before. Widespread flexibility at work is helping to level the playing field for professional women and men, however despite efforts to promote gender equality and diversity in the workplace, women continue to perceive a lack of progress in these areas. Research consistently shows that diversity and inclusion contribute to stronger company culture and increased business success. To prevent turnover and poor performance, leaders must develop strategic solutions to address these inequalities.”

About HiBob

HiBob is on a mission to transform how organizations operate in the modern world of work with its HR platform ‘Bob’. Leading the way for the future workplace, Bob offers resilient, agile technology that wraps all the complexities of HR processes into a game changing, user-friendly tool that touches every employee across the business.

Since 2015, trusted and empowered ‘Bobbers’ from around the world have brought their authentic selves to work, inspired to build the exceptional HR systems that will revolutionize the work experience for HR professionals, managers, and employees. Agile and adaptable, HiBob innovates through continuous learning loops to produce seismic cultural shifts for companies with dynamic, distributed workforces.
HiBob is used by more than 3000 multinational companies – including Cazoo, Monzo, Happy Socks, Fiverr, and VaynerMedia. Organizations using Bob are able to accelerate hiring, retain the best talent, upskill and elevate employee