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Mind the PR pay gap

The gender pay gap is a worrying issue in PR with latest figures from the CIPR’s State of the Profession report showing that women earn nearly £6,000 per year less than men, which reflects a general UK discrepancy in men’s/women’s salaries across all industries.  The report also shows that only 5% of women earned over £100,000, compared to 11% of men. This points to a pay ceiling for women in the more senior parts of the profession.

Sarah Pinch, managing director of Pinch Point Communications and 2015 CIPR president, explains how the CIPR made its calculations: “For the past three years, the CIPR’s State of the Profession survey has used regression analysis to reveal the true extent of pay. This calculation takes into account a range of variables factors which can impact salary such as years of experience and seniority.”

PR is on par with other industries

This year’s CIPR research reveals the gender pay gap figure was £5,784 – a slight reduction of £200 on last year’s figure. This suggests that the pay diffential in PR is on par with other industries, as there is a gap of £5,732 in average full-time annual salaries between women and men according to analysis by the recruitment company Robert Half quoted in The Guardian.

Gender balance of UK public relations

Discussing the PR body’s statistics, Pinch says: “For the past three years the CIPR's annual research revealed that men are paid more than women. It’s easy to get caught up in statistics every year, but we need to remember this is an issue which affects the majority of people working in our industry. That’s why it was important for us to take a new approach and go beyond the numbers to reveal a clearer picture of the industry’s gender pay gap.”

Eight reasons for pay differences

To delve deeper into the issue, the CIPR did a further study in partnership with Women in PR. Pinch explains: “‘PR and Pay Equality’ is the result of 20, anonymous interviews with senior female professionals. For the first time, the report identifies the eight reasons for PR’s gender pay gap. The causes vary from cultures of intimidation, to unconscious bias and differing approaches to male and female pay negotiation. The positive theme that emerged from the report related to the attitudes of younger professionals.”

Mean salary across the PR industry by gender

Reflecting the way that women and men approach asking for salary increases differently, one respondent says:  “I think men have a tendency to over exaggerate their skills and want to stretch to the next level. Women only feel comfortable to ask when they can clearly demonstrate they are doing all that is required of them.”

The future looks brighter

The future may be brighter, says Pinch, as younger people demand greater equality and businesses strive to improve: “According to the research, millennials tend to expect and demand greater transparency when it comes to pay. That’s encouraging, but successful businesses won’t wait around for change to come. They’ll act quickly to promote transparency and equality because ultimately, it’s their reputation on the line. The best and brightest professionals won’t want to work for organisations that fail to promote these values. Ultimately, equality makes business sense.”


Research company Survation surveyed 1,578 public relations professionals between 19 October 2016 and 13 December 2016. Invitations to complete the survey were sent via email to members of the CIPR and non-members signed up to the institute’s mailing list. Invitation links were also shared on social media.

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