The survey of 550 male and female comms professionals found that 48.5 per cent of women were considering seeking employment elsewhere if the industry continued to deny flexible provisions for those returning from maternity leave.
The CIPR and recruitment firm Hanson Search - which conducted the survey - is setting up a gender balance task force aimed at keeping talent in the industry and narrowing the gender gap.
CIPR CEO Jane Wilson said: 'There must be honest conversations about how the requirements of the business can be balanced against the needs of the employee. In a 24/7 world of social media, rolling news and increasing disclosure, this probably matters more to our industry than most other professions.'
Almost half the respondents (49.3 per cent) had seen colleagues face problems when returning from maternity leave. These included difficulties with flexible working hours (64.6 per cent) and reduction in perceived status (59.9 per cent).