A new global study from WTW highlights a startling difference between the wealth accumulation of men and women at the point of retirement, around the world. The WTW Global Gender Wealth Equity report shows that on average women are expected to reach retirement with just 74% of the wealth accumulated by men, with the difference across all countries included in the analysis ranging from 60% at worst to 90% at best.
Furthermore, the study highlights that the gender wealth gap at retirement increases with seniority. Globally, women in senior expert and leadership roles were found to have less than two-thirds (62%) of the accumulated wealth that their male counterparts enjoyed at retirement. For mid-level professional and technical roles, the gap was still substantial at 69%, but it narrowed considerably to 89% for frontline operational roles.
Manjit Basi, senior director, Integrated & Global Solutions, WTW, said: “The results from our global analysis are startling. It shows that there is a gender wealth gap consistently across the 39 countries that we studied. The primary drivers contributing to gender-based wealth disparity include gender pay gaps and delayed career trajectories. Additionally, gaps in financial literacy and family caregiving responsibilities outside the workplace influence women’s participation in paid employment and therefore their ability to build wealth.
“It’s imperative that activities around gender diversity, equity and inclusion broaden to look at economic wealth at the end of women’s working careers. Pay is a fundamental factor that underlies the gender wealth gap, and while addressing the gender pay gap will partially close the wealth gap, it won’t eliminate it entirely.”
Globally, the U.S.’s gender wealth gap was just above the global average at 75%, while Canada performed slightly better at 78%. Nigeria has the highest gender wealth gap in the study at 60%, closely followed by Argentina at 61% and Mexico and Turkey, each at 63%.
In the U.S., pay gaps and delayed career progression are the primary drivers of the wealth disparity between men and women. The pay gap is more pronounced in leadership roles, where the pay trajectories for women are significantly lower than men. For frontline operational roles, the pay trajectories are very similar between genders, resulting in a higher wealth equity index.
The study highlights that there has been an increasing focus on reversing the trend of gender discrimination through the recent environmental, social and governance awakening. In addition, corporate efforts to further diversity, equity and inclusion have helped narrow the gender pay gap and underrepresentation of women in board and leadership roles. Yet, more remains to be done.
“Gender inequity in wealth accumulation is under-researched and overlooked. The reality is that the wealth inequity issue and its causes and effects are multidimensional and should be studied and addressed as such,” said Basi. “By focusing on accumulated wealth at retirement, the disparity can be quantified, and actions can be taken through broader society, government and organizations to equalize wealth outcomes.”
“While no single solution alone will solve the gender wealth gap, effective leaders need to employ a range of approaches to narrow it.”
The WTW Global Gender Wealth Equity Report follows a collaboration between the World Economic Forum and WTW earlier this year, which released initial insights into the wealth gap in the Global Gender Gap Report 2022.