Continued effort needed by all to further close gender pay gap

The last 12 months have been a year of leaning in and rarely a week goes by that I don't see an event centered around women empowerment and leadership.

PRWeek has partnered with brands and agencies to rally around what is a very important and relevant issue to all, especially this female-dominated industry.

I value the insight I’ve heard from many accomplished women and always leave with a bit "more swagger" to steal a line from Ketchum’s Barri Rafferty during a recent Impact Leadership 21 event. But sometimes I also wonder if all the leaning in is, to coin a beloved industry catchphrase, moving the needle? The answer is no, yes, and it’s complicated.

Sad to say the $35,000 salary gap between men and women executives with more than five years’ experience remains the same compared to last year, according to the recent PRWeek/Bloom, Gross & Associates Salary Survey.

But the better news is that the difference between men and women with fewer than five years’ experience has shrunk considerably. The median salary for those women starting their careers has increased by $3,000. Hopefully, a more level playing field from the outset will contribute to fair compensation in the long haul.

I am sure the momentum behind the issue of women empowerment attributed to that boost. Women executives of all ages are starting to hear the call to "man up" and ask for what they want. Executive women are making salary equality a priority, but here it is more important that this become a CEO issue, not a women’s issue.

No CEO would say they don’t believe in equal pay for equal work, but how many have really taken a deep comparative look at what is happening within their own companies on the salary front.

The complicated part of the equation is that the gap at the less-than-five-year level is much less because, not only did women’s salaries go up, but the salary for men in that experience bracket also dropped by $5,500. I don’t know why that happened and I would welcome readers’ thoughts on the subject.

What I do know is we don’t have equality yet, but we do have progress and improvement. What we now need is continued effort to further close the gap.

It may not be in my working lifetime, but I hope that, someday, there will be a woman editor tapping away at the keyboard composing an op-ed about the moment when the scales are balanced.

Bernadette Casey is executive editor of  PRWeek. She can be contacted at bernadette.casey@prweek.com.

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