Gender Wage Gap Municipal Audit

The Seoul Metropolitan Government performs a biannual gender wage gap audit that publicly discloses the wages of male and female employees at the 22 organizations it supports or funds. This audit is a first attempt of local government and can be a driving force for its spread to the central government and other local governments.

Additional information





Location: Seoul, South Korea

Organization: Seoul Metropolitan Government

About the Wise Practice

On International Women’s Day (March 8), 2019, the Seoul Metropolitan Government pledged to address its gender wage gap, or the discrepancy between what its male and female employees were paid. Nine months later, on December 9, 2019, it released an audit titled “The Status of the Gender Wage Gap at Seoul Metropolitan Government-Funded Organizations.” 

The audit, which was published on the Seoul Metropolitan Government website, details the wage information of male and female workers at 22 organizations supported or funded by the city government. The wages can be filtered by organization, position, occupational category, number of years in office, and labour cost category. The target period is from January to December in 2018. The target group is full-time and has indefinite contract employment in capacity during 2018.

The audit was conducted by a Task Force that included representatives from women’s organizations, labour organizations, and private companies.

The simple act of disclosing pay information disaggregated by gender has been proven to shrink gender wage gaps (see ‘Harvard Business Review’ in Sources, below), but the Seoul Metropolitan Government has also committed to take follow-up measures to address the gaps identified during its audit.

Categories & Goals

Governance & Leadership

  1. Goal 1:  Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, ensuring women’s full and effective participation and equal rights in all fields and in leadership at all levels of decision-making
  2. Goal 4: Promote capacity development programmes to help governments in financial planning and management, with particular attention to age- and gender- responsive budgeting

Economic Security 

  1. Goal 1: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, by ensuring decent work and equal pay for equal work, or work of equal value
  2. Goal 4: Undertake reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources


The 2019 wage gap information was derived from the wage information of a total of 22,361 workers (both full-time employees and indefinite contract workers) who worked all of 2018.

The audit used the same criteria as the OECD for similar studies: gender gap in median earnings. See “OECD” in sources for more information.

Information from organizations with less than five staff was not included, in order to protect the personal information of those workers.

Findings from the 2019 audit include:

  1. – The gender wage gaps at the organizations studied ranged from a minimum of -31.57% to a maximum of 46.42%.
  2. – According to the OECD, the national gender wage gap in South Korea is 32.5% (source, 2019)
    1. – Three organizations had gaps above the national average in 2018: the Seoul Institute (46.42%), the Seoul Energy Corporation (40.9%), and the Seoul Business Agency (37.35%).
    2. – The rest had gaps below the national average.


When the 2019 audit was released, the Seoul Metropolitan Government committed to take follow-up measures to decrease the gender wage gap, in recognition of the fact that the gap has been established and entrenched over time through cultural perceptions and normative practices. Its goals are: to increase women’s overall employment rate; to expand opportunities for women to join the top ranks of their organizations; and to foster an ‘equal working environment’ with no gender discrimination.

To achieve these goals, the Seoul Metropolitan Government established a Gender Equality Wage Advisory Group composed of experts from fields like law and labour relations. The group planned to visit each organization and provide consulting in three stages, in order to create tailored organizational improvement plans.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government intends to release a new gender wage gap audit biannually—the next report to be released in 2021 to target the 2020 reporting period. In the future, it hopes to expand the audit to include (1) non-regular workers at city-funded organizations and (2) private sector agencies that are commissioned by the public sector.

Lessons Learned

In addition to the quantitative results outlined below (see “Measurement”), the audit found that :

  1. Most organizations have relatively fewer women in positions of higher power.
  2. There is still a strong cultural perception within the organizations audited that fields like architecture, civil engineering, and machinery are male-centric.
  3. Gender-biased practices and perceptions have accumulated in the culture of these organizations, which contributes to the gender wage gap.

Resources and More Information

  1. Press Release
  2. Gender Equality Wage Disclosure Website (In Korean)
  3. Harvard Business Review
  4. OECD


Published: March 17, 2021