One in three BME marcomms staff think their background affects salary or promotion chances

Just over half (52 per cent) of PR and marcomms professionals from BME backgrounds have been denied a pay rise and 30 per cent believe their race, nationality or ethnicity has had a negative impact on their salary or promotion potential, new research suggests.

(Credit: Lyubov Ivanova via Getty Images)
(Credit: Lyubov Ivanova via Getty Images)

The study, commissioned by People Like Us, comes as the PRCA Race and Ethnicity Equity Board (REEB) urges PR and comms employers to report on their ethnicity pay gap ahead of the UK’s Ethnicity Pay Gap Day on 8 January.

The new survey, conducted by Censuswide, found 35 per cent of BME PR and marcomms professionals believe white colleagues are more likely than those from other ethnic backgrounds to successfully ask for a salary increase or promotion. And 30 per cent think white colleagues are more likely to receive a salary increase or promotion without asking.

In addition, 44 per cent say they have struggled to ask for a salary increase or promotion before, despite thinking they deserved one.

A further 63 per cent don’t know whether their current or previous workplace has ever revealed an ethnic pay gap.

People Like Us co-founder Darain Faraz said: “During the height of the Black Lives Matter movement, we saw companies and brands across all industries come out to pledge better opportunities and working conditions, including pay, for their diverse workforce. Since then, unfortunately, looks like we haven’t quite made the progress that we hoped.

“On average, two-thirds of people from racially diverse backgrounds know or have reason to believe that their white counterparts in the same role are being paid more across all industries; this rises to 83 per cent for PR and marketing, making it one of the worst-performing sectors in terms of the race pay gap.

“It's simple: nobody should earn less because of the colour of their skin, their sexual preference, gender or anything else that isn't related to their performance. Salary and job progression should be based on merit, but the data here makes it patently clear that currently, they aren't. Our industry must get better at identifying pay gaps and progression bias within their companies, because without understanding the issue, you can't fix it.

"We hope this research shines a light on the prevailing issue of the race pay gap, so that it can be rectified in 2022 once and for all. We’re asking every HR professional, payroll professional, CEO and business leader to do this exercise, and don't just focus on race or gender, look at all cross-sections in your company including race, sexuality, age, disability and gender.”

Pay gap

The Ethnicity Pay Gap Day was launched in January 2021 to raise awareness and inspire action to close the gap. The PRCA’s annual census from last year put the ethnic pay gap at £8,084.50, or 16 per cent.

Barbara Phillips, chair of REEB, said: “The PR and comms industry is in rude health. We are making a great recovery. According to reliable sources including the PRCA, we have regained previous high levels of client confidence and can get back to the business of exploring creative ways for clients to build and maintain important relationships with customers, investors, partners and, most importantly, employees, who are often all of the above. We are ready to tell their new stories that, once again, will lead to a mutually lucrative ending.

"And while we all pour ourselves excitedly into 2022 with anticipation – my outpourings (and those of anyone who looks anything like me) will be worth around £8K less a year than my white counterpart, on average. The basis of the gap? My ethnicity. That’s it."

The REEB has produced a free Ethnicity Pay Gap Guide.

Wider research for People Like Us about UK employers as a whole found workers from black, Asian, mixed-race and minority ethnic backgrounds earn 84 per cent of what their white counterparts are paid, on average.

Unlike gender pay gap reporting, which is mandatory for bigger employers, there is currently no law mandating the reporting of ethnic pay gaps, although many MPs backed such a move in a debate in Parliament last September.

PRWeek, in conjunction with People Like Us, published a project on pay gaps in the PR industry last September, where a number of agencies revealed their ethnic and gender pay gaps at different levels of staff seniority.

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