Work & Wellbeing The Future of Work Pay Gap

Covid-19 set gender pay gap back a generation, says World Economic Forum


By Ellen Ormesher | Senior Reporter

July 14, 2022 | 3 min read

Efforts to close the global gender pay gap resulted in a minor narrowing this year, but the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has delayed equality by a generation, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF).

gender pay gap

Covid-19 has set the progress of pay gap equality back by more than 30 years

Now in its 16th year, WEF’s Global Gender Pay Gap Report reveals that overall gender disparity across politics, work, health and education improved, meaning it will now take approximately 132 years to reach full parity, compared to last year’s estimate of 136 years.

However, the pandemic has added a significant delay to the process. Prior to the outbreak of Covid-19, the gap was set to close within 100 years.

Within the marketing and advertising sector in the UK, change has also been stunted by the events of the last several years.

Based on The Drum’s own snapshot data from almost 10,000 companies between April 2021 and April 2022, the UK’s average median gender pay gap (considered to be the more accurate measure) is 12.3%. But the average median gap at ad agencies during the same period was 15.5%, meaning that women are paid on average 3.5% less than male workers at agencies than they would be at other kinds of businesses.

The Institute for the Practitioners in Advertising’s (IPA) most recent survey also painted a somewhat bleak picture. While the number of women occupying C-suite roles was up marginally from the 32.4% recorded in 2020, the number of women in part-time roles, freelance roles and who have quit the industry altogether increased sharply.

This shift has been attributed to soaring childcare costs making it impractical for women who are primary childcarers to remain at work – a trend that is likely to worsen as the cost-of-living crisis continues to take hold.

Work & Wellbeing The Future of Work Pay Gap

More from Work & Wellbeing

View all


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +