PR and Pay Equality

By: Karly Dwyer

To coincide with International Women’s Day 2017 Britain’s Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), in partnership with Women in PR, released ‘PR and Pay Equality’ a qualitative research report to understand the factors that influence gender pay inequality in the public relations industry.

Data from research by CIPR leading into this study uncovered that there was a gender pay gap of £12,316 ($19,971) in the UK. Once variables such as level of education and seniority were removed a ‘true’ pay gap of £5,784 ($9,376) was revealed.

So, as a 25-year-old female working at a progressive Australian PR agency, I ask myself why in 2017 is there a pay gap of close to $10,000 between women and men in PR?

The report outlined eight main reasons and while some of the reasons reflect a need for a greater cultural change, many of them were factors that any woman reading this post can, almost certainly, easily overcome.

I would like to discuss three that stuck out for me and were conveniently ranked first, second and third.

1.      Fear and stigma combined with asking for a pay increase. Many women surveyed believed they would be labelled as a ‘trouble maker’ for asking for the pay rise.

Pay rises are part of the natural progression of careers and a person’s individual contribution to a company. So if you feel you have progressed in your career or you feel like you’re giving more than you’re receiving, ask for the pay rise.

2.      Lack of transparency. Pay is usually not openly discussed and some women who thought they were being paid well were not being paid as well as their colleagues.

Companies need to make money and while your boss wants to reward hard work he or she would also be crazy to not leave room for movement in the pay bracket. So if you feel you merit more, ask for the pay rise because your colleague probably will.

3.      Negotiating skills. Women second guess themselves and their abilities whereas men were felt to be more likely to aggressively negotiate and job hop.

It’s easy to get stuck in your comfort zone, however it is also foolish to leave what you love simply for money. Don’t be afraid to negotiate what you think you deserve and there are plenty of blogs, magazines and books that will train you on the art of negotiation, many of which are written by women.

Other factors cited:

4.      Agency culture and structure

5.      Business and sector bias

6.      Generation differences

7.      Unconscious bias

8.      Senior alpha females and workplace attitudes to flexible working

As a society and an industry the study also offered practical solutions to bridging the gap including:

  • A comprehensive outline of salary banding by industry bodies

  • Client awareness – making gender parity and pay a business issue

  • Government reporting on salaries

  • Leadership training that focuses on adaptive leadership and new models that move beyond      aggressive alpha behaviour

  • Mentoring and role models within companies

  • Gender equality networks within the workplace

  • More research by professional bodies

Hopefully in the years to come society will reach a point where gender equality is something that no longer needs to be discussed, especially in Australia. I am lucky to be in a workplace where this is already the case.

Once issues are successfully addressed, women and men in our country can dedicate International Women’s Day to addressing the issues of less advantaged women in the wider world.


Douglas Wright