Europe sees massive gender pensions gap due to pay and maternity coverage

Women in Europe are still falling behind in retirement savings due to gender pay gaps and bad maternity leave coverage, according to experts at the eighth annual World Pensions Forum in Brussels.

Discussing gender pay gap and equality in a panel debate, Global Sovereign Advisors managing partner Suzanne Bishopric said women’s pension pots in Europe are between 30 and 40 per cent lower than men’s.

“That’s a bad number in itself. But remember, a woman outlives her spouse and need more care because they tend to have more chronic diseases that make them disabled. That means they have to pay for their care, even though when their husbands were living, they would probably be taken care of for free.”

Bishopric explained that a woman from Denmark, one of the better countries for gender pay, if she leaves the workforce to have a child, she will never catch up with the gap again.

According to Gapsquare founder and CEO Zara Nanu, the OECD has calculated that it will take about 217 years to close the gender pay gap, while, in contrast, we will be in self-driving cars and on our way to Mars by 2030.

“The gap in pay doesn’t stop at employment, it actually continues into pension age. Women suffer from that impact, and the difference in pay throughout their careers carries all the way into retirement.

“With humanity, at the point we are at today, should think it is time to retire that pay gap so that everyone has that same access to economic welfare,” Nanu said.

However, Bishopric said, the gap is shrinking. “But it is still here. And what is really happening isn’t helping women or mothers.”

“These numbers are pretty gruesome and I have no idea what’s going to happen to change. But it is getting slowly, slowly better.”

Nanu also highlighted a Harvard University study which shows that regulation from government bodies have had an impact on the gap, and has forced businesses to take action.

The UK government, for example, made it mandatory for companies with over 250 employees to report on the gender pay gap, France produced legislation last year, and Germany has recently passed legislation, Nanu noted.

“We are moving into a space where this has is being increasingly regulated. On top of that, you have the layer of the new workforce, which is millennials and generations Y and Z, and they are interested in transparency and fairness. They want to make sure that everyone is paid fairly, that everyone in a company is being remunerated and compensated properly,” she said.

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