It’s time for the business of PR to grow up

Yesterday, the CIPR published State of the Profession 2015 – an annual report covering the trends, issues, opportunities and challenges facing the business of public relations as revealed by research conducted with over 2,000 PR professionals.

The results found that out of a mean pay gap of £12,591 in favour of men, a clear pay inequality gap of £8,483 exists. This is 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 reveal 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.

Sarah Hall, CIPR Board Director and Managing Director of Sarah Hall Consulting Ltd, has analysed the key findings on gender balance and equal pay.

These findings are a call for the business of public relations to grow up and take equal pay seriously.

CIPR State of the ProfessionNot only do we have clear evidence that because of their gender alone, women are paid £8,500 less than men, but we also see that gender has the third biggest possible influence on an individual’s salary in PR. The current assumption that a gender pay gap exists solely as result of women starting families, taking extended maternity leave, and working part-time, can now be declared dead. 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. 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 CIPR members their additional duty to the Institute’s Code of Conduct.

Changing the narrative about women is also critical. With the industry operating 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. It’s also about keeping pace with the way in which the world of work has evolved.

Failing to tackle gender pay is not an option. There is no short-term fix and no target to set other than delivering a long-term cultural change that completely eradicates this inequality once and for all. As a so-called profession, not only do we look outdated, statistics such as these also mean that we will fail to attract the best current and future talent; this is not something that a new generation of women will stand by and quietly accept.

The CIPR 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 it is not something we can do alone. Actions will speak much louder than words.

The Institute will now be hosting a series of round tables on equal pay, under Chatham House rules, in April 2015. Interested parties can register their interest in attending by contacting

Do you have an opinion on what public relations can do about equal pay? Join the debate by commenting below, or tweeting your views using #StateOfPR

Download the full research report, commentary analysis and interact with the key findings at

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