Industry still failing women with compensation disparity

The gap between men's and women's compensation in the industry remains, and unfortunately, it's getting worse.

There is a lot of positive news coming from this year's PRWeek/Bloom, Gross & Associates Salary Survey. Fewer PR and communications practitioners feel their job is at risk because of the economy. And the number of people who say they would be willing to take a pay cut for a job declined to 47%, a difference of only 1% from the year prior, but a significant decline from 57% in 2011. Plus, PR's median salary is up to $95,000 from $90,000 in 2011.

However, the news is not all good, particularly if you are female. The gap between men's and women's compensation in the industry remains, and unfortunately, it's getting worse. The median salary for men is now $125,000 compared to $118,700 in 2011. The median salary for women is $80,500 compared to $77,250 in 2011. The pay gap has gone up from $41,450 to $44,500.

The gap is even bigger at the five-plus year experience level - up $5,000 to $35,000. To be clear: men with more than five years experience get paid $130,000, while women with the same experience get paid $95,000.

The disparity in pay begins right out of the gate. The pay gap between men and women with less than five years experience remains the same at $11,000. At an entry level it's fair to say women haven't begun to take a career break to raise kids, the often-cited reasons for pay discrepancies. So why is there such a difference? When the best you can say is that salary inequality for women just beginning their careers is no worse, it is a sad day.

The day before I wrote this column I interviewed Arianna Huffington, president and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post Media Group, at a breakfast roundtable hosted by PRWeek and MSLGroup entitled Davos 2013: Communications Takeaways from the World Economic Forum. Topics discussed at Davos included women in leadership and their role in developing nations where women are recognized as a crucial factor in lifting countries out of poverty. Investing in women's businesses has a multiplier effect in families and communities and in the developing world women's earned income is growing faster than men's.

How is it then that in the richest country in the world in an industry that itself is reaching new heights of relevance and respect, where three out of four positions are held by women, is the pay gap between men and women getting bigger?

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

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