PRCA Census: Progress needed on 'inequitable' gender and ethnicity pay gaps

The PR and comms industry’s gender pay gap is now 12.7 per cent and its ethnicity pay gap is 16 per cent, according to the PRCA’s annual census.

Progress is needed on 'inequitable' gender and ethnicity pay gaps.
Progress is needed on 'inequitable' gender and ethnicity pay gaps.

The PR and comms industry's gender pay gap (GPG) fluctuated from nearly 15 per cent in March 2020 to 21 per cent in September that year before settling at its current level of 12.7 per cent, the PRCA said.

Meanwhile the ethnicity pay gap (EPG) stands at 16 per cent – nearly seven times the national figure – drawing sharp criticism from the chair of the PRCA’s Race and Ethnicity Equity Board.

Research for the study was carried out by 3Gem, and was based on survey responses from 541 PR and comms professionals across the UK.

Gender pay gap

The census showed that the average salary for men was £55,312, while for women the figure was £48,293 – an industry pay gap of 12.7 per cent.

The national GPG is currently 15.5 per cent, according to Government figures.

The PRCA said the industry's GPG could be attributed to more senior roles being held by men, despite the overall gender split in the industry remaining 67 per cent women to 33 per cent men.

In the survey, respondents were asked whether their organisation was doing enough to address the gender pay gap, to which 70 per cent said "Yes".

Respondents said the pay gap could be addressed by creating roles with more flexibility, redesigning senior roles so they were open to all, and greater equity of maternity and paternity benefits.

Commenting on the figures, Anna Geffert, president of Women in PR, said: “The pandemic has opened the door for a reset – humanising the workplace and providing a real opportunity to place equality and diversity at the heart of our businesses. We are moving in the right direction, but now is the time to accelerate.”

Ethnicity pay gap

The study showed that the ethnicity pay gap (EPG) for the industry was 16 per cent of average salary, or just over £8,000.

This is nearly seven times higher than the median EPG across all ethnic minorities, which the most recent Office for National Statistics figures puts at 2.3 per cent, albeit with wide disparities between different ethnicities.

The PRCA said 46 per cent of white PR and comms professionals earned more than £50,000, compared to only 32 per cent of non-white practitioners.

The trade body attributed this to a dearth of non-white professionals in senior roles, especially in agencies.

On the in-house side, white respondents were most likely to be employed at head of unit level while non-white respondents were more likely to be employed at senior manager level.

The disparity was even more pronounced in agencies, with white professionals more likely to be chief executives or managing directors and non-white professionals more likely to have roles as account executives.

Respondents were asked about their wellbeing in the workplace, which covered the quality and safety of the environment as well as how they felt about their work or working lives.

White professionals were more likely than those from an ethnic minority to rate their organisation as "good" or "very good" and also more likely to confide in their manager about workplace wellbeing or their mental health.

Barbara Phillips, chair of the PRCA’s Race and Ethnicity Equity Board, said: “Revenues up? Great! Let’s be rid of the 16 per cent ethnicity pay gap. Employees returning to the office? Great, let’s dismantle the toxic cultures that meant many non-white groups found sanctuary working from home (especially black women) and are now reluctant to come back to microaggressions and lower pay."

She added: “It's great to be back, but let’s leave the discrimination behind and instead create psychologically safe cultures where all protected groups are welcomed. Then, perhaps, we can say our industry is finally moving in the right direction. Currently, as far as racial inclusion and equity are concerned – it isn’t.”

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