PR's gender pay gap shrinks but ethnic diversity worsens: CIPR's State of the Profession

Mental health, diversity and inclusion continue to be problems for the PR industry, according to new CIPR research released this month.

PR's gender pay gap shrinks but ethnic diversity worsens: CIPR's State of the Profession

The State of the Profession 2019 is published by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR). For nearly a decade the annual report has explored the trends, issues and challenges facing PR.

As companies continue to grow and average salaries continue to rise, the industry is failing to make progress on diversity.  

The profession is becoming less diverse, both in terms of its ethnicity and sexuality, the report found.

The vast majority (92 per cent) of practitioners classify themselves as ‘white’, compared to 88 per cent last year; and 89 per cent identify as heterosexual, a four per cent rise.

The results also revealed that 28 per cent of respondents attended a fee-paying school, which is four times higher than the UK national average.

Those who attended a private school are more likely on average to hold a senior post and be paid higher wages than those who don’t.

Despite the industry being two-thirds female, men occupy 44 per cent of the industry’s most senior roles.

However, the gender pay gap, after regression analysis is taken into account, is £1,523 less than in 2018 at £5,202.

‘White public school alumni’

Avril Lee, the CIPR diversity and inclusion forum chair, said that while the industry agrees diversity is important to provide fresh thinking and insights into new audiences, the industry's actions are building a profession of white public school alumni.

"We all need to challenge outdated and biased recruitment and retention policies," she added.

"We are all responsible for shaping the future of our industry by establishing workplace cultures in which all talent is judged fairly and given an equal opportunity for progression. Without those inside changing the status quo, those outside will remain locked out and our profession will remain the poorer for it."

Mental health headaches

The reporting of mental health issues is also on the rise. This year’s report notes a five per cent increase to just over a fifth (21 per cent) of respondents live with, or have previously lived with, a diagnosed mental health condition.

More than half (53 per cent) said their work ‘contributes highly’ to their diagnosis, and just under a quarter (23 per cent) said they had taken sickness absence from work on the grounds of stress, anxiety or depression.

Alarmingly, almost a quarter of respondents who discussed concerns about their mental health with a manager said nothing had happened as a result, highlighting how poorly the industry is training line managers to deal with mental health issues.

The CIPR’s health chair Rachel Royall said this year’s report places a spotlight on mental health issues in the industry and called on employers to do more to recognise and support the mental health needs of their employees.

"It is in everyone’s best interests to support good mental and physical health. A happier and healthier workforce will be more productive, have reduced sickness and retain skilled talent. We owe it to ourselves to look after each other."

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