CIPR mulls maternity leave guidance as part of gender inequality response

The CIPR is expected to produce new guidance on maternity leave as part of a promise to tackle the issue of equal pay for women and gender balance in the workplace.

Gender divide: CIPR research shows women in PR face an average pay gap of £12,000 (Credit: Getty Images)
Gender divide: CIPR research shows women in PR face an average pay gap of £12,000 (Credit: Getty Images)

The institute has announced it will "debate and deliver further action on gender equality" at its next council meeting, scheduled for 21 April.

Its announcement referenced a statistic from its latest State of the Profession Survey that women in PR are paid an average £12,000 per year less than men. The survey, which PRWeek reported on last month, found that the mean salary for a male PR practitioner is £56,840, dropping to £44,450 for a female practitioner.

The options under consideration include guidance intended to help employers better manage maternity leave and which could include the creation of a code of practice for employees' return to work.

The work will be led by CIPR board member Sarah Hall, the owner of Sarah Hall Consulting, and Avril Lee, the deputy chair of the CIPR Diversity Working Group and a director at public affairs agency Luther Pendragon. 

Hall told PRWeek: "The whole maternity leave process is a difficult one for both the individual and organisation involved. We have to recognise that and help them navigate a challenging process, so it’s about looking at how we can do that, and looking at how we can make the transition easier and re-attract senior female talent after they go on leave."

Apart from maternity leave, the list of proposals to be discussed includes guidance on flexible working and workshops helping women to better negotiate pay conditions.

Welcoming feedback and suggestions, Hall said: "It won’t be easy but in an industry dominated by women frankly things have to change."

Hall said that the issues had been given more prominence by the survey findings, which she described as a "shot across the bow", and that recent CIPR Twitter discussion on the issue provoked strong interest.

"There’s no room to rest on our laurels, we have to do something about it," she said, adding that more detail would emerge after the council meeting in April.

"There’s a real appetite for change and we will look to drive that forward. It’s early days but watch this space."

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