Why is There a Gender Pay Gap in Female-Dominated Public Relations?

  • Published: 28 August 2018,
  • The Say Team

Public Relations is an industry highly populated by women. In fact, in the UK, 66% of PR professionals are female. Despite this, there remains a gender pay gap of 21% in PR, with men earning an average salary of £53,952 while women only earn on average £42,588, that’s 2.6% over the average UK gender pay gap. This may not seem as dramatic in comparison to those companies in the UK with the largest pay gaps, for example, the asset management company Macquarie Group pays women a median of 60% less per hour than men with a whopping bonus gap of 83% and Ryanair declared a pay gap of 71.8% in 2018. The difference between these organisations and the PR industry is that they are male-dominated, providing an explanation (although not a justification) for the gap – although you do have to question why Ryanair employs only eight female pilots in contrast to 546 male pilots. British Airways, on the other hand, have a significantly smaller pay gap of 35%, although their flight crews are still skewed with only 6% being women.

This gap also exists in the media, with the Telegraph Media Group paying women 23.4% less than men on average and 73% of the highest earning employees at The Telegraph are men. The publisher of The Times, Sunday Times and The Sun reported a pay gap of 19.6% and even the Guardian has a pay gap of 12.1%.

So, why in the female-dominated industry of PR are men still being paid more?

According to a recent study by the PRCA and PRWeek, the problem appears to be stemming from the agency side of PR. Female comms professionals who work in-house, particularly at large organisations, are likely to fare better – in fact, nearly half of FTSE 100 companies employ a female communications director who is also on their executive committee. PR agencies, however, tend to be dominated by women (aged 29 on average, if you were wondering) – but the majority of founders and MDs are middle-aged men.

As well as this, the CIPR’s report into PR and Pay Equality identified eight reasons behind the gender pay gap: fear and stigma around address paying inequalities; a lack of visibility into comparative salaries; different approaches between the genders when it comes to negotiating pay; bullying and intimidation in the workplace; business sector bias (women are typecast into certain roles); generational differences; unconscious bias; and an unsympathetic attitude towards flexible working and working around having a family.

I’m very lucky to work in an agency with a female majority at the top, both of our Managing Directors are women as are two thirds of our senior operations team, but in many agencies this simply isn’t the case and the glass ceiling is very real. PR agencies need to address the big problems which are stopping women from progressing when they reach a certain level, and women should be encouraged to be ambitious and demand the same pay, and treatment, as their male colleagues.

By Alice C. 

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