Eight reasons why there is a gender pay gap in PR (and seven ways to reduce it)

A new report by the CIPR says women working in PR are often afraid of speaking up to address pay inequality - labelling this as one of eight key reasons for PR's gender pay gap.

For the report, entitled PR and Pay Equality, 20 women in senior agency PR roles were interviewed during October 2016 by research consultancy Jungle Green for the CIPR and Women in PR. Of those interviewed, 17 were from London and three were from outside the capital.

Launched today (8 March) to coincide with International Women's Day, the report outlines eight reasons why there is a gender pay gap.

  1. Fear and stigma: a strong reluctance among women in PR to address pay inequality for fear of being labelled as a trouble-maker
  2. Lack of transparency: there is a perceived lack of visibility of comparative salaries in the workplace
  3. Negotiation skills: different approaches between men and women to negotiating pay.
  4. Agency culture and structure: bullying and intimidation in the workplace prevents discussion about gender-based differences in pay.
  5. Business sector bias: women can be typecast into certain roles within the industry
  6. Generational differences: younger practitioners, millennials in particular, are thought to be more demanding in their salary expectations and negotiations
  7. Unconscious bias: male leadership may perpetuate male leadership and preferment
  8. Attitude to flexible working: many female business leaders, who have made family life sacrifices, were unsympathetic to others wanting extended parental leave, or work flexibly. It is often felt such arrangements cause resentment among colleagues, or business continuity difficulties.

The report gives seven solutions to the gender pay gap:

  1. Salary bandings: comprehensive research into salaries at different levels from various quarters
  2. Client awareness: clients demanding to work with companies that exemplify gender parity
  3. Government reporting: to encourage companies to tackle the issue of transparency
  4. Leadership training: leadership training for men and women that seeks to redress alpha behaviour in both sexes
  5. Mentoring and role models: senior women doing more to sponsor younger women and offer flexible working role models
  6. Gender equality networks: internal workplace networks that include men on the discussion of parity
  7. Professional bodies: publishing reports, statistics and providing tools that will equip professionals in career development.

PRWeek has put significant focus on the industry's gender pay gap. In September last year, a move by the PRCA to include reporting on the gap in its kitemark accreditation was welcomed by many, including the CIPR. And last month, we looked at how the Government Equalities Office and Acas are helping employers understand guidance on new legislation on gender pay gap reporting at large companies.

Sarah Pinch, MD of Pinch Point Communications and former CIPR president, said: "This research paints a stark image of an industry in which some agencies maintain an unacceptable attitude towards women.

"There are some shining lights of change, especially where agencies are run by women or men who have female relatives working in PR. We now have insight into how we can work together to target some of these issues and make this a profession all of us would recommend to the next generation of PR practitioners."

The interviewees were also asked whether they were confident that the gender pay gap would close in the next five years. Nine said they were, and 10 said they were not. One declined two respond.

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