Today’s Sector Comment sees Alastair McCapra, CEO of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), tackle the gender pay gap, a prevalent issue in the PR profession.
State of the Profession Surveys Reveal Gender Is the Third Biggest Influence on Salary
The 2014 CIPR State of the Profession and 2015 CIPR State of the Profession surveys make for uncomfortable reading for the business of public relations.
The 2015 research, published last February, highlighted a clear pay inequality gap of £8,483 in favour of men – a figure that cannot be explained by any other factor such as length of service, seniority, parenthood, or a higher prevalence of part-time work amongst women.
Findings also revealed the biggest influences on the salaries of all public relations professionals; with gender identified as the third biggest influence on salary, more so than education background, sector of practice, graduate status, and full-time/part-time status.
The results are even more interesting and noteworthy due to the make-up of our sector, which is broadly two-thirds female and has a 50/50 balance of men and women across senior management. Such context requires the business of public relations to no longer ignore the issue, and take equal pay seriously. It also strikes whilst the iron is hot – as gender balance and equal pay is being discussed as a priority at the highest level across all walks of business.
Tackling the Pay Gap with Policy
Based on our 2014 findings, which revealed similar results, we made a policy commitment to tackle this issue, and last year the Institute was supported by our member network in delivering a series of firsts for UK professional bodies. These included:
• Launching a new package for existing CIPR members to support them for the length of their maternity leave
• Created a series of 10 PDFs guides for individuals and line managers on managing a successful return to work
• A comprehensive guide to flexible working in public relations including nine key recommendations for effective flexible working in practice
Challenging Preconceptions in the Workplace
In 2015 we’re looking to move the narrative forward – shifting the focus away from assumptions that a gender pay gap exists solely as a result of women starting families, taking extended maternity leave, and working part-time. This is firmly an issue of corporate culture.
The solution lies less with improving women’s negotiating skills, and more so in ensuring that pay systems and the people who operate them are capable of delivering equal pay. All professional bodies should be aware that at organisational level, transparency in pay structures is a legal requirement, and with that in mind managers and employers should be aware of their obligations to the EHRC ‘Equal Pay Statutory Code of Practice’, and for our own members, their additional duty to our Code of Conduct.
To this end we will be back in the field conducting further research later this month as we aim to understand more about how pay is determined across the sector. In particular we want to know how pay management varies from one type of organisation to another (e.g. small/large; unionised/non-unionised; male led/female led).
CIPR Encouraging Flexibility, 24/7
Changing the narrative about women is also critical this year. With the industry operating ever more globally, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, flexible working is not about gender but a need to focus on helping all staff achieve a balance between their work and home life.
Alongside recent changes to the law which deliver shared parental leave, by doing this we hope to change perceptions about ‘flexi-work’ being an issue just talked about in the management of women. More importantly, it’s also about keeping pace with the way in which the world of work has evolved.
Our ambition is a bold one – to make the CIPR an exemplar for other sectors. However equal opportunities will only come with organisational change.
We will continue to research and report on the issue, offer the very latest guidance and advice, and lead employers and employees in delivering change– but the gauntlet has now been thrown down to our members, and the wider profession, to make this much needed change happen.