Image courtesy of flickr user Steven Depolo

Time to be brave and stand up to pay inequality

Research published today by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations is the first time my industry has gone behind the figures to find out what the drivers are for the embarrassing, unacceptable gender pay gap in PR. I first spoke to Mary Whenman, President of Women in PR, about this research months ago.

It took time to find the right research partner and the women who were willing to be interviewed. We are immensely grateful to them for taking part, we’ll never know who they are. But their voices ring out loud and clear throughout the document and the first time I read the document, I was shaken.

Then I went for a long run, and as I ran there were times when I wept; because no one should be spoken to in the way some of these women have been. But we are strong and resilient as PR professionals, and men and women across the industry will, I know, today rise-up and support the challenges that are laid down in this report.

There is hope. Hope from those men and women who set up agencies together and start modelling a different way of setting salaries and managing success. Hope from female led agencies. Hope from the Millennials who will not accept the status quo and are already challenging this, I know this first hand from my time co-chairing the CIPR Young Communicators’ Panel – men and women sat together driving forward change and demanding PR modernises in many ways, including how we reward and pay each other.

The Women’s Business Council has calculated that if we equalise women’s employment to that of men by 2030, we can add at least 10% to GDP. Closing the gender pay gap is good for business. It is good for Great Britain. Public relations could lead the way. Can we?

Our industry should commit today to working together to publish a clear, timed, detailed approach to closing our gender pay gap, improving the number of women in senior positions, stamping out bullying, increasing the number of high profile senior women (conference organisers take special note) and by so doing so deliver better results for clients – and more investment to their shareholders.

As I said in the House of Commons, when the CIPR sponsored a meeting of Debating Group: “The gender pay gap is not a problem for women. It is not a problem for men. It is a problem for the UK, for everyone. The Government’s own Equalities Office undertook research in 2014, which showed that the majority of employers considered ensuring they have no gender pay gap is a priority. But only a small proportion had a planned approach for reducing the gap.”

This is a call to arms folks. This research gives us all the insight we need, let’s get this show firmly on the road. Let’s develop a robust, clear roadmap, that outlines from day one of working in PR what is expected of you: a journey to success that starts at the very beginning, as all journeys do, and ends with success for everyone. And I believe, that success will only be achieved if we explain the route, provide the maps, get the signposting right and ensure that the route is manageable for all.

Men and women in PR must support each other; we must defend each other. We must help each other. And if it’s necessary we may have to start the journey over and over again; taking a different path – but always focusing on the same destination. Equity and equality. Be Brave, please, on this International Women’s Day.

Image courtesy of flickr user Steven Depolo

Sarah Pinch

Sarah Pinch FCIPR, MIoD is MD of Pinch Point Communications, President of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations in 2015, and a Non Executive Director of the Health and Safety Executive.

Posted in Diversity, Editor's Picks, Public Relations

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