Women in PR facing tough battle for fair pay, advancement

by | Dec 4, 2017 | Public Relations

Data from a new gender pay gap survey, exploring the working practices of the global PR industry, highlights the fact that very few PR women make it to the top of the profession.

Although women represent two-thirds of the global PR industry, 78 percent of the CEOs in the top 30 PR agencies worldwide are men—and they also occupy 62 percent of seats at the PR boardroom table, the research reveals.

The Organization of American Women in Public Relations (Women in PR USA) and the Organization of Canadian Women in Public Relations (Women in PR Canada) jointly announced the annual gender pay gap survey results with sector group Global Women in PR.

When it comes to salaries, women are also falling behind

Comparing like for like, the average salary for men in PR is $61,284 (CDN $76,365) compared to women $55,212 (CDN $68,799), revealing a gender pay gap of $6,072 (CDN $7,566).

“Women are a driving force in PR. We are not just sitting back on the sidelines and watching change. We are making change happen. Women in PR USA marks growth and commitment, and a goal to continually advance our roles in the profession,” said Deirdre Breakenridge, CEO of Pure Performance Communications, in a news release.

By far the biggest gender pay gap is at the boardroom level. There is a staggering gap amongst the highest earners, with more than double the number of men (28 percent) earning over US $150,000 (CDN $186,915) compared to 12 percent of women.

“The PR industry is nearly two-thirds female and we are still faced with some of the same challenges we had 50 years ago. We still have a wage gap in our profession and there are still only a few female CEOs at large PR firms. We still have unrealistic ideals and limitations in the work force for women,” said Daniela Kelloway, founder and CEO of ClutchPR, in the release.

The PR workplace does not appear to be more gender equal as we get older

Thirty-six percent of women believe the PR industry is ageist, compared with 25 percent of men.

The survey also provided an important insight into the work/life balance and working practices giving clues as to why more women are not better represented at the top of a profession where they dominate.

“Women in PR USA is focused on elevating women and comprised of dynamic, industry-leading PR professionals. True success comes only when we support one another,” said Shannon Furey, public relations director at M studio, in the release. “We are working to close the industry’s leadership gap and support the next generation of women PR leaders.”

One noticeable finding in the survey was the confidence gap. Twice as many women (26 percent) say they are ‘not confident’ asking for a promotion or pay rise, compared to 13 percent of men. And when asked if they think they will reach the top of the career ladder—28 percent of men believe they will ‘definitely’ get there, whereas only 18 percent of women believe this.

“Fostering a community of collaboration versus competition is so important and often overlooked in our industry.  Shared insights and mentorship that drives cumulative success and confidence will always have the highest return,” added Christine Faulhaber, president and CEO at Faulhaber Communications, in the release.

The results will be presented in a panel discussion at the Global PR Summit in Toronto on November 21, 2017. The discussion will be moderated by Talia Beckett Davis, founder of the Organization of Canadian Women in Public Relations and President of Pink Pearl PR.

“One of our main goals when forming this organization in North America was to provide a place for women to thrive earlier in their careers and to strengthen the capabilities of established leaders in the PR industry,” said Beckett-Davis.

Women in PR facing tough battle for fair pay, advancement

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter


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