The annual 'State of the Profession' report, published today, found on average the difference between male and female salaries is £13,887. Around £5,404 of this can be explained by factors such as length of service, seniority, parenthood and higher prevalence of part-time work among women. However £8,483 remains unaccounted for and is a clear pay inequality gap.
Sarah Hall FCIPR, CIPR board member and the institute’s Equal Pay lead, said: "The current assumption that gender pay gaps exist predominantly as result of women starting families, taking extended maternity leave, leaving full-time work and being more likely to work part-time, can now be declared dead."
The report also identifies the biggest influences on the salaries of all PR professionals, with gender the third biggest influence, more so than educational background, sector of practice, graduate status and full-time/part-time status.
The top two influences are level of seniority and the number of years of service, respectively.
Hall said that women’s negotiating skills needed to be improved and that flexible working was key to tackling the problem. She added that pay systems and the people operating them also needed to be capable of delivering equal pay.
Hall warned: "As a profession, not only do we look outdated; statistics such as these also mean that we will fail to attract the best current and future talent."
The study also showed that, for junior and senior hires, bosses prioritise traditional PR skills over digital/technical skills, with 64 per cent focusing on written communication and interpersonal skills as key competencies when hiring candidates.
This is compared with just 20 per cent of PRs who identify digital/technical skills, including SEO, HTML and coding, as key competencies.
Stephen Waddington, CIPR past president, said the findings reflected "a stark generational issue", with senior practitioners resistant to modernity.
He stressed the need for digital and social skills at every level of expertise and called for a "competency framework" to define skills in PR and improve recruitment processes – an issue he will be focusing on over the coming year.
The report also found that 51 per cent of senior managers in PR say they are "extremely stressed" or "very stressed" in their roles.