TITLEClosing the gender pay gap: Are women paid less than men in pharma?

By Included team
Thursday 22nd December 2022

Pharmaceutical companies have a huge role to play in our communities. Across the board, we know that accessible products and services are better for everyone. We also know that diverse and inclusive teams are happier and perform better.

Research in the health sector has shown that more inclusive practices lead to more engagement of health practitioners, leading to better patient outcomes. Getting inclusion right in the pharma sector, from inside labs to HQs through to clinical trials and the final patient, holds huge potential for impact.

So, how does pharma stack up now when it comes to D&I?

Gender pay gaps

Let’s take gender pay gaps. Gender pay gaps (GPG) are public knowledge in the UK and can be viewed on the UK Government’s Gender Pay Gap Service. Glassdoor ranks the top pharmaceutical companies in the UK as GSK, IQVIA, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, and Pfizer. We looked at how these Organisations compare to one another and the average gender pay gap in the UK. The next reporting deadline in the UK is March 30 2023, and these comparisons are from the most recent available data in the 2020/21 reporting year.

On average, women in pharma are paid 10% less than men. This is slightly lower than the national average in the UK, which sits at 11%.


How do GSK, IQVIAJohnson & JohnsonAstraZeneca, & Pfizer compare?

Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca’s GPGs are close to the national average, sitting at 10% and 10.50% respectively. Pfizer, however, is nearly 10% above this national average at 20.50%.

GSK performs significantly above average, both for pharma and for the UK as a whole.

Bonus gender pay gap in UK pharma: GSK +1.3%, IQVIA -78.1%, J&J - 30.2%, AstraZeneca -21.5%, Pfizer -39.9%

Why is GSK closing its GPG more effectively than the other Organisations in this sample? In its 2021 report, GSK cited:

  • An aspirational target of achieving over 45% female representation in roles at VP level and above by 2025
  • Inviting employees to self-nominate for our ‘Accelerating Difference’ development programme for female managers
  • Running the Global Gender Council and Women’s Leadership Initiative ERG

We first published our UK gender pay gap in 2017 and are pleased to report that we continue to significantly outperform the national average.

Ian Mackay, Chief Financial Officer, GSK.

You can find out more about GSK’s work on intersectional pride and AstraZeneca’s inclusive leadership work as part of the Organisations’ partnerships with Included.


What about bonuses?

Why do bonus GPGs matter? Across industries, women are disproportionally overrepresented in jobs perceived as ‘low value’ or ‘unskilled’, particularly in care jobs. (Source: ILO). Of course, these jobs are neither unskilled or low value. Tackling occupational segregation is an essential part of closing the gender pay gap.

Again, GSK’s latest report shows the smallest gap. In fact, female employees at GSK who received a bonus were paid slightly more than their male counterparts. IQVIA has a significantly larger gap than the other pharma companies here, at nearly an 80% discrepancy favouring men.

How big is the gender pay gap in UK pharma? GSK -1.3%, IQVIA -21.7%, J&J -10%, AstraZeneca -10.5%, and Pfizer -20.40%.
What level jobs to men and and women hold at these pharma companies?

This graph shows the share of the highest paying jobs that women hold across GSK, IQVIA, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, and Pfizer. GSK again scores the closest to gender parity in representation, at 44.90%. The UK population is 50.57% female.

What share of the highest paying jobs do women hold? GSK 44.9%, IQVIA 43.4%, J&J 42.1%, AstraZeneca 40.2%, Pfizer 40.5%
How can gender pay gaps be closed in pharma?

Even though it’s a systemic issue, Organisations can help solve the problem by allowing for more flexible ways of working, internally publishing salaries, and focusing on increasing promotion and retention rates of women.

Stephen Frost, CEO, Included.


Compulsory GPG reporting in the UK is a legal requirement, but is not a step in itself that will bring about gender equality in the workplace. Find out more about the challenges of GPG reporting and how to create real inclusion.


What’s the impact of pay gap reporting?

It’s that time of year again, when UK companies of 250+ employees are required to submit their gender pay gaps (GPGs) to the government. These will then be published by the UK government’s gender pay gap service – a publicly accessible website where anyone can check the salary or bonus gap of any company they’re…

“But where are you really from?”  Five subtle acts of aggression to leave in 2022 

We can leave ‘microaggressions’ that shape the way many marginalised groups experience the workplace and conversation behind us this new year.

How cultural intelligence impacts diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace. 

What is cultural intelligence ? To be culturally intelligent is to adapt and operate effectively in a range of contexts. These can be across national, ethnic, Organisational, generational, and departmental settings. Cultural intelligence is made up of four key capabilities. These are:   Drive: The curiosity and motivation needed to work well with others who are different…

Sign up for our newsletter

Error: Contact form not found.