The Gender Divide

What does new, transparent data tell us about the current state of gender inequality in Swiss company leadership?

Brief introduction to the report: 

The structure of the workforce is changing and many organisations are working towards becoming increasingly diverse and inclusive. 

Addressing the gender pay gap and the gender divide in decision-making positions is an important step towards this objective. 

But, how much progress have we made and how far away are we from reaching a truly equal, diverse and inclusive workforce? 

The Swiss Company Leadership and the Gender Divide report, compiled in collaboration with Business Monitor, provides a comprehensive answer to this question. It is a thorough analysis of 900,000 Swiss companies and aims to show how gender inequality in the workplace has evolved over the last decade. 



Three key findings from the report:

Women are stuck at lower-level decision making roles and change is not about to occur. 

The “glass ceiling” metaphor is not a myth. In 2018, fewer than one in four decision-makers in Swiss businesses are women. Not only is this gender divide notably unequal, it has also consistently worsened over the past ten years, as in 2008, the proportion of females in decision-making roles was one in three. 

There is a surprising difference between female representation trends at limited companies (Ltd) and limited liability companies (LLC).

Ltd companies (known in Switzerland as A.G. or S.A.) display strong gender imbalances in decision-making roles (16.8%) but there is a small, slow positive trend toward correcting the imbalance. 

In LLCs (known is Switzerland as GmbH or SARL), the percentage of women in decision-making positions is higher (27.1%) but the question is for how much longer. The overall trend is a worrisome 2.2% decrease in women in decision-making roles in the last 10 years. 

So, it seems that, although Ltd companies are the best examples of the “glass ceiling” phenomenon, it is in fact hardest to break through it in LCCs.


The gender balance is worse in newer companies than in older ones.

With the efforts undertaken by the Swiss government and other organisations worldwide to raise awareness for equal salary and representation, it could be assumed that newly established companies would be the front runners when it comes to balanced workforces. 

Surprisingly, the research shows that this is not necessarily the case, and that Ltd companies and LLCs founded after 2008 show greater gender imbalance than pre-existing ones. 

Switzerland is slowly moving towards gender parity between women and men but, at the current rate, it will take decades to reach full gender equality. Engaging in discussion around the findings of this report and what it means for organisations in Switzerland is only the beginning. However, it should help us think of the creative strategies organisations can implement to reach the desired outcome of a diverse and inclusive workforce.   

For more detailed information about our findings, download and read our comprehensive report below. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions and comments. We would be delighted to engage in conversation with you about this important and relevant topic.    


Get in touch with us:

Johannes (Joop) Smits

Partner, People and Organisation, Geneva, PwC Switzerland

+41 58 792 91 64