Pay disparity between male, female PR pros begins early

Bernadette Casey, executive editor, highlighted some of the troubling data from PRWeek's annual salary surveys that shows pay disparity between men and women begins early and follows women through their careers.

L to R: Sarah Jane Glynn, Maggie FitzPatrick, Bernadette Casey, Ernesto Quinteros
L to R: Sarah Jane Glynn, Maggie FitzPatrick, Bernadette Casey, Ernesto Quinteros

NEW YORK: Pay disparity between men and women in the PR industry begins early and follows women through their careers, according to PRWeek’s annual salary survey.

In 2014, men in the PR and comms industry with fewer than five years’ experience made $52,000 compared with women who made $46,500. The gap only widens as a women’s career progresses. Men with more than five years of experience make $137,000 compared with women who make $95,000.

Overall, over the course of a 47-year work life, a woman will lose between $700,000 and $2 million to the wage gap, according to the National Committee on Pay Equity.

The data proves that men and women in the industry are not doing enough to effect change, Johnson & Johnson CCO Maggie FitzPatrick said at a panel in New York on Monday on the evolving dynamics of pay equity.

"We all have a responsibility to get at that, change the trajectory, and to make success equal for men and women," she said. "But it is not just about economic success; it is also about professional advancement."

How companies work to fix the problem, according to Ernesto Quinteros, chief design officer at J&J, begins with "empowering cross-functional teams to create a roadmap of where you want to go and steps on how to get there."

The process should be akin to any successful brand campaign in that it creates "empathy for people and tells their stories," he said.

Other thoughts from panelists on ways to address the pay disparity was to create transparent salary bands within companies that are communicated to all employees, leadership must conduct comprehensive annual salary reviews, and leadership should be trained on how to avoid gender bias.

Sarah Jane Glynn, director of women's economic policy at the Center for American Progress, told the audience that it’s not about the personal choices people are making, but why they are seeing different returns on those choices.

For instance more advanced degrees are not translating into higher wages for women. A woman with a bachelor’s makes about the same as a man with a high school diploma.

In addition, women are less inclined to go into some higher earning [science, technology, engineering, and technology] sectors and when they do they often leave after five or 10 years because of issues such as poor benefits and poor work-life balance.

Glynn advised companies to focus on creating gender-neutral policies to help "deal with the differences in how we think about workers."

Time off or flex time "are not something women do, but something people do," she added.

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