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White CEOs still dominate medical aid sector

To foster workplace equity and parity, the medical schemes sector must tackle discrepancies. Picture:

To foster workplace equity and parity, the medical schemes sector must tackle discrepancies. Picture:

Published May 9, 2023


Every part of the economy is undergoing transformation, which is essential for long-term viability and sustainability.

The under-representation of black women in managerial roles is even more lacking in some of these sectors.

Studies have repeatedly shown a growing pay gap between men and women, and that women are under-represented in leadership positions.

An evaluation of the gender pay gap in the medical schemes industry shows that white CEOs still dominate the medical aid space relative to their black counterparts.

According to a Council for Medical Schemes gender pay gap research study, which focused on the CEOs of medical schemes in South Africa, in 50 medical schemes there were 32 (64%) white CEOs and 18 (36%) black ones.

Against this backdrop, the study also found that the median pay of CEOs was higher in open schemes than in closed ones. In large schemes, the pay gap between male and female CEOs was 39%, while in small schemes it was 6%.

When adjusting for gender, the results further indicated that 23 (46%) CEOs were females and 27 (54%) males. Furthermore, in large schemes the pay gap between male and female CEOs was 39%. However, the pay gap in small schemes was just 6%.

The council said that, to foster workplace equity and parity, the medical schemes sector must tackle discrepancies and adopt additional measures to diminish inequality and bridge the pay disparity between male and female CEOs.

Michael Mncedisi Willie, executive manager of policy research and monitoring at the council, said these findings were concerning because they suggested that, not only were women in leadership positions in the medical aid industry paid less than men, but there was also significant variation in pay within gender groups.

The study found that there may be other factors at play beyond gender that are influencing pay disparities, such as company size, industry experience, and other factors.

The study included 50 of the 71 registered medical schemes that remunerated their CEO with a cut-off figure of R120 000 a year. The 50 medical schemes surveyed in the study accounted for R220 billion (98% of the total revenue generated by the industry in 2021).

The council said transformation targets in the medical scheme industry had not been adequately analysed until recently.

“As medical schemes strive to meet transformation and B-BBEE scorecards, representation of black women is blatantly lacking. The CMS, along with the B-BBEE Commission, is working together to ensure medical schemes become compliant with the transformation codes,” the council said.

On International Women’s Day in March, the United Association of SA said that the gender pay gap persisted in South Africa and elsewhere, and that this was disappointing.

“South Africa has countless female-headed households, with women working hard to make ends meet and ensure a better life for their children.

“The gender pay gap stands in the way of many who struggle to realise their dreams for their offspring. The gender pay gap represents a real stumbling block in the way of a more successful country,” said the association’s spokesperson, Abigail Moyo.