Gender wage gap figures (within PR)
This extract from Myths of PR by Rich Leigh is ©2017 and reproduced with permission from Kogan Page Ltd. Myths of PR by Rich Leigh is now available to buy. Medium readers save 20% with discount code BMKPR20 at this link.
I’ve asked my publisher if I can share a chapter from my book, Myths of PR, which became the best-selling PR book on Amazon within a few days of release. They’ve kindly agreed on the basis I put the above copyright notice (and there’s a nice discount, if you haven’t bought it yet).
Truth be told, given the ever-present gender wage gap debate, I wanted this published for people to read for free. Well-known and well-read publications jumped at the chance to publish the chapter, but each time, on the proviso that the 6,000 word chapter was pared down, or written into an opinion piece. Frankly, I won’t cut a single comma — therefore, this seemed to suit Medium nicely.
It’s been put together to be as robust as possible, because, and as I get into in the chapter, oversimplification and shareable soundbites do nothing to further the conversation. It was published in April 2017 — the final manuscript written and submitted much earlier than that date.
I’ve been fascinated by the response to the chapter. I’ve had people contact me to say that they read it expecting to tut at every paragraph, but found themselves unable to disagree, and more informed as a result. That’s my aim here. So, without further ado…
*Takes a deep breath*
In its 2016 Census, the PRCA found that there was a “gender pay gap of £9,111”. The findings were described as “extremely disappointing” and “simply unacceptable” by Women in PR President Mary Whenman. The PRCA’s director general, Francis Ingham, called them “disheartening”.
The UK’s other prominent PR organisation, the CIPR, released figures, too. Its 2016 State of the Profession survey showed, for a fourth successive year since the CIPR first published the PR pay gap figure as part of State of the Profession in 2012/13, that men out-earn women in PR. An average disparity of £15,040 between male and female earnings was found to exist, up nineteen per cent on 2015’s figures (attributed to the inclusion of freelancers in the overall results). An employee-only figure however shows a gap of £11,698, a seven per cent year on year decrease.
Two separate 2016 surveys, two different results, each of which highlight a significant gap in earnings attributable, according to the surveys, to gender. It’s a similar picture in the United States according to PR Week’s 2016 Salary Survey, which found that overall, senior male PR executives earn $125,000 a year compared to $80,000 for women.
These are the figures industry that stick in your mind. Students will be taught them and industry entrants will begin their careers believing they are being held back. Two thirds of PR industry employees in the UK are women, with similarly disproportionate representation elsewhere, so that’s a huge number of the industry affected.
Only… (and this is the deep breath bit)
These figures aren’t quite telling the whole story.
“Rich thinks the wage gap is a myth” will be the takeaway by people conditioned to accept often complex issues in 140 characters. And I have to be OK with that, despite — and I’ll say this as clearly as I possibly can — that absolutely not being the case.
I will say this in my own words in my own way: if people choose to believe that I am doubting the existence of the wage gap, they are intentionally ignoring the actual words used. It’s easy to see why that could be the case.
Today, we consume news in ever smaller bite-sized chunks, pared down to the easiest to understand and lowest common factor in order to make it shareable. The news we share, as a kind of social media currency, determines how moral and agreeable other people think you are and as social beasts, we’re concerned by this. The more likes, comments, positive reactions and shares our social posts receive, the more ‘together’ with others we feel. The more connected. Journalists have been informing (and sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally) misleading with snappy and enticing headlines since the seventeenth century, when the first newspaper was established. Now, millions of people, untrained in the art, do the same.
Headlines and Twitter-friendly takeaways like “women in PR earn £15,040 less than men” help nobody, because they’re inaccurate and liable to spread like wildfire.
In fact, as a case in point, an earlier version of this chapter failed to highlight the effort the CIPR has gone to in its State of the Profession annual reports to ensure a regression analysis was done, aiming to, in the surveying company’s words, ‘determine the affect one variable is having on another, whilst holding for the impact that other factors might be having’. What this basically means is, all factors accounted for, the regression analysis should find the actual figure in a bid to nullify arguments such as, say, ‘the reason men received higher salaries was because more men were in senior positions’.
The CIPR’s 2016 report found a post-regression analysis annual gap of £6,004, in favour of men. The report showed gender has the third largest overall impact on a PR professional’s earnings, after level of seniority and years in the industry.
Thanks to former CIPR President Sarah Pinch for highlighting this to me.
I say that this is a case in point, citing ‘headlines and Twitter-friendly takeaways’ because, in my research for this chapter, I read three industry sites and blogs reporting on the State of the Profession’s findings: PR Week, PR Moment and The Drum. Not one of them mentioned the post-regression finding. I should have read the report itself better, but if I, as somebody that makes an effort to read as much as I can about the industry, can miss this, I don’t think I’ll be the only one.
Again, I am not questioning the existence of a gender pay gap. I am questioning the validity of the figures we are routinely exposed to, which could quite easily affect the likelihood of, say, my daughter when it comes to choosing her career down the line.
“What’s the difference?” one might ask. “Why split hairs?” My answer is, again, simple: we should care about every single percentage point. If we’re truly bothered by a gender pay gap, both societally and in PR, every penny should matter. We can’t shun intellectual honesty in favour of simply looking like a good person.
The figures we’re presented with are not inaccurate because of the sample sizes of the surveys — it would be foolish to hope for every single person in PR to respond to either report I led with. They are inaccurate because it is often a simplification of a complex issue, compounded by the fact that the necessary questions to determine the pay gap have not been asked.
A helping hand
Again, for the third time — if you’re reading this and rolling your eyes, I am not dismissing the existence of a gap in earnings between men and women. There is one — and we’ll get onto it.
I am no economic whizz. But I know somebody who is, and she’s given a lot of her time to help me and, by extension I hope, everybody that otherwise parrots the same wage gap figures, understand this issue.
Susan HayesCulleton is a Chartered Financial Analyst charterholder. As an experienced trainer and public speaker, she regularly presents at conferences and delivers keynote speeches on the subjects of economics, the financial markets, entrepreneurship and finance. Before passing the notoriously difficult CFA exams, Susan graduated from NUI Galway, ranked in the top two per cent of universities in the world by Times Higher Education, with a degree in Financial Maths & Economics.
Susan is the author of three books, one of which, Positive Economics (written with Trudie Murray and Brian O’Connor), is used as the Irish ‘Leaving Certificate’ textbook. In the Irish education system, the Leaving Certificate Examinations are the equivalent of A-Levels in the UK — the final examination stage in the Irish secondary school system, before students go off to university.
Her other two books are The Savvy Women’s Guide to Financial Freedom and The Savvy Guide to Making More Money, published by Penguin Ireland.
Understanding the complexities
Another figure readers might well have seen is the statistic that female full-time workers earn seventy nine cents for every dollar a man makes. This is an accurate figure, when comparing everything women earn, and everything men earn. But it doesn’t tell the full picture.
Case Study: Explaining the gender pay gap
Contributed by Susan HayesCulleton
The “average wage for a man versus average wage for a woman, unadjusted for everything”, gender pay gap is approximately twenty per cent. Women earn twenty per cent less than men.
However, that’s a very raw figure. It’s easy to quote, but ignores a lot of things. Let’s call that the unadjusted pay gap.
The actual pay gap — and one does exist — adjusted to take into consideration the factors we need to take into consideration to make an accurate statement of fact (such as hours worked and level of education), reduces to around five per cent. Not twenty per cent — the adjusted pay gap is somewhere between four point eight and seven per cent.
This is the finding of a 2009 study by the U.S. Department of Labor (Daily Caller, 2016), which examined more than 50 peer-reviewed papers and concluded that the wage gap “may be almost entirely the result of individual choices being made by both male and female workers.”
First, the way to fix the imbalance (assuming that is what we want to do) is to accept that twenty per cent is not the correct figure to be quoting, while still expressing distaste for the remaining five per cent gap. I will get onto what I mean by this after I talk about the ways in which the imbalance can be fixed. Let’s see if the appetite is really there to fix it.
It is illegal to pay somebody less money for the same job, doing the same hours, on the basis of their gender. If you are able to show this to be the case, you have a legal basis to sue your employer and stand to win, and I would encourage you to. If women really were cheaper to hire than men for the same role, business owners would surely be employing more women to enjoy higher profitability, no? Given that businesses will happily outsource to other countries to save money, it’s not a huge stretch to assume they’d do the same by employing women if they could simply pay less. Those highlighting the easily quotable twenty per cent figure have no answer to that. It would make simple economic sense, but is not the case.
So why do the figures say the gap is around twenty per cent, then?
A number of factors have to be considered when talking about the differences in pay between the genders. As Harvard University economist Claudia Goldin stated in 2014, the highest-paying jobs “disproportionately reward those who can work the longest, least flexible hours”.
The key word here is ‘disproportionately’.
Jobs that reward those who can work long, inflexible hours at short notice, such as being a lawyer, pay a disproportionately high salary. Not to men, not to women — to everybody.
However, these types of jobs penalise workers who have caregiving responsibilities outside the workplace. Women have disproportionate responsibility for children and caring for the elderly. Therefore, women are less likely to work in roles that do not allow them to fulfil these caregiving responsibilities.
Taking law again, let’s look at what happens to the number of women in the profession at varying levels of seniority. The results of the 2014 Gender in the Law Survey by Chambers Student Guide, are below. More than one hundred legal firms were asked to account for the number of female solicitors by level of seniority.
As the results show, and as in public relations, there are more women than men in the industry until the most senior positions.
If you were to take an average of what men earn versus what women earn in the legal profession, you would expect, with the figures above, a discrepancy — because men take up those roles in senior positions that undoubtedly pay better.
It’s sometimes difficult to picture, but imagine that same imbalance in terms of female presence at a more senior level in all of the other industries that disproportionately reward the most value adding positiions. These will be some of the best paid jobs in the world, on account of the fact fewer people will want to do them — again, supply and demand economics. If you were to take an average of what men earn versus what women earn across all professions, you would expect a discrepancy because, again, men will be better represented in senior positions that pay better.
And why are men better represented in senior positions?
Because, again, these types of jobs penalise workers who have caregiving responsibilities outside the workplace. And at what age do people tend to graduate to those senior positions? Of course, it’s around the age where people become parents, and elderly relatives might need looking after.
A study was highlighted in the New York Times in 2014, based on data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth from 1979 to 2006 in the US. The research, which tracked people’s labour market activities over time, found that childless, unmarried women earn ninety six cents for every dollar a man earns. This is much more in line with the adjusted wage gap and still something we need to work at.
Workers in many industries often face steep penalties for any interruption to their career. One 2003 study (National Poverty Centre) estimated that among lawyers, a year out of the labour force costs an eight per cent salary reduction, while colleagues continue to work and earn. It is easy to see how a woman that takes her full maternity allocation with more than one child can quickly fall behind in earnings. Is this fair? Well, put another reason for a year’s absence in the place of maternity — say, travelling the world — and ask yourself if you’d be happy with a colleague that did that returning to work with a pay rise despite having not been there to gain experience and add value to the company.
We are, as a society, blinded by the eminently quotable twenty per cent statistic and we’re looking for a smoking gun in employment that probably doesn’t exist. If women really were cheaper, it doesn’t make economic sense for an employer to favour men. It doesn’t make legal sense either — once more, it’s illegal to pay different salaries to people doing the same job during the course of the same number of hours.
If there’s a smoking gun, it lies firmly at the feet of society and the role women have been given or adopted as caregivers. Women have disproportionate responsibility for children and caring for the elderly. Therefore, women are finding they are unable to, or in many cases do not want to, progress to senior positions that expect longer and inflexible hours of commitment.
The fact that the gender pay gap is mostly due to individual choices poses the question of how these choices are constrained by gender stereotypes in society: for one camp, these stereotypes and societal norms need to be proactively addressed. For the other camp, free individual choices are what matters and shouldn’t be interfered with.
These choices aren’t just child-related. They relate to career choices, too — and this is an area we can and are working to fix. Women are statistically more inclined to choose careers, even from incredibly young ages, that have a lower pay packet than men. Why does this happen? For example, why would a woman choose to be a teacher and a man an engineer?
Do women positively choose to be teachers, or is it a “second best” choice because they lack the confidence to be an engineer? Perhaps women are pressured into being teachers. Perhaps there’s societal pressure to work in certain areas of employment. Perhaps women don’t believe they have the ability.
There is one solution to fix the adjusted gender pay gap. But I’m not sure it is one that would be much appreciated.
As I mentioned, women have disproportionate responsibility for children and caring for the elderly and, I would say, are well rewarded holistically for doing so. There is a trade-off between staying an extra hour at work and spending more time with your family and it’s a conscious decision often to do the latter. There are obvious intrinsic rewards which differ in range and scope for everybody, but there are extrinsic rewards too. As a result of time I’ve spent caring for my family, I have gained vital life experience. This makes me a better speaker. It makes me more conscientious and it makes me more aware of the responsibilities and emotions of people around me. These things all translate into employable, financially beneficial skills.
We have to question whether this disproportionate responsibility is given or taken. Are people expected to take this care of children or elderly relatives, or do they take on the responsibility?
One also needs to question: would women give this responsibility away, especially the time spent with children?
We often assume that men are happy with their family lifestyle. That dads are happy to work all the hours God sends. I ask men, “What’s it been like to manage your work-life balance? Have you felt your career has hampered your time at home?” The answer is that men, especially men with older children, often do feel that their career has hampered time with their families. We assume they’re ok with that.
In 2015, shared parental leave rules came in in the UK allowing mothers and fathers to divide time spent at home with new babies. The rules were much-maligned — it still didn’t and doesn’t make financial sense for many on account of various circumstances. According to research by Working Families, a UK charity dealing with family life and work, between nought point five and two per cent of eligible dads had made use of shared leave six months after the rules changed. The government had predicted a take-up of two to eight per cent in the first year.
According to the Trade Union Centre (TUC) general secretary, Frances O’Grady, “take up has been very low and TUC research shows as many as two in five new fathers are ineligible for shared parental leave, as their partners are not in paid work, or they fail to meet the qualifying conditions.” She added “If the government is serious about men playing a more active role after their child is born, they must increase statutory pay and give all new dads a right to some independent parental leave that is not shared with their partners.”
Shared leave rights have existed for parents in other countries for decades. Sweden became the first country to introduce shared leave in 1974, and today, each parent is entitled to two hundred and forty of the four hundred and eighty days of paid parental leave. Each parent has two months reserved exclusively for him or her. Should a father — or a mother — decide not to take them, they cannot be transferred to the partner. In 2014, dads took twenty five per cent of the total parental leave. Child care in Sweden is cheaper than in the UK, but still, women make up the majority of primary child carers.
A ‘men-at-home’ quota
If there is a genuine choice to stay at home with the kids — who takes that choice? Of course it can come down to who earns more, but I think that many women wouldn’t give the responsibility up. Surely, f they choose to stay at home, it’s a positive if they can live out this ambition.
One way to fix the gender pay gap immediately would be to firmly impose a quota on how many men are in the household full time. Rather than getting more women out of the house, the quota would be to get more men into the household.
Quotas are being put in place at board level in business worldwide. The UK has opted for a twenty five per cent target as opposed to a quota, where women currently account for twenty three per cent of FTSE 100 board seats. Imagine if, similarly, there was a quota in place for men in the home!
I don’t see any appetite for it despite the fact this would have an obvious and immediate impact on the number of women in senior positions. I don’t want this imaginary men-at-home quota by any means. That said, it would undoubtedly work, and would absolutely shine a light on the biggest issue causing the adjusted gender pay gap. Fewer men in the workplace would ensure that the jobs that disproportionately reward those who fulfil the most value adding positions would be given to women, forced by this reverse quota to occupy them. It would affect the very fabric of society.
Now, I’m not a fan of quotas, and wanted to highlight this one to demonstrate the confusing nature of them. I’m often invited to speak at conferences, and am often the token woman. I would say that I’ve been given a lot more opportunities and experienced a huge amount of positive discrimination. I used to get insulted by it. Now I take those opportunities because I can work with them with a view to being asked back as myself in my own right and secondly, to make women more visible in the world of finance, media and public speaking.
I’m of the view that female empowerment is allowing women to do what they want. Female empowerment isn’t pushing a woman out the door. Women can make up their minds for themselves and shouldn’t feel forced into a black-and-white choice of either looking after children or going back to work. I believe that you can have it all, but you need to be very clear about what “it all” is and be willing to sacrifice lower priorities to get it. The pay gap can be fixed if women take only their prescribed two week’s maternity leave, if partners take on or are given more at-home responsibility and if new parents make full use of expensive child care. I can’t speak to the happiness of people that do this, but the options are there.
It all comes back to whether or not an individual — not specifically a man, not specifically a woman — can put themselves in the frame for jobs that disproportionately reward those who can work in the most value adding positions.
I think women should make choices based on what they want to do, and there are two ways to do this.
First of all, part of the solution is both men and women supporting young girls to pursue what they want to do. There’s already been a lot of work around science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects and jobs, but I think it starts earlier than this, in dealing with confidence. In fact, positive discrimination has been found to exist in these areas, as a 2015 study from Cornell University actually found that women were preferred by a ratio of two to one over identically qualified male candidates for assistant professor positions.
It’s often said that women lack confidence in terms of asking for promotions. Women can and are helping each other here in many different ways and in many different sectors, including PR. Support networks exist, and are often at our fingertips, and free. These groups though are often highlighting figures like unadjusted pay gap statistics — which could be doing the opposite of encouraging women into an industry.
Secondly, I believe we need a greater conversation around pay transparency. This isn’t about forcing companies to divulge exact figures per employee, but having pay grading per job role as standard practice in all businesses, in all industries. That way, there simply isn’t the opportunity to unduly pay one employee much more or much less than another. We’re not all equal in terms of ability and the effort we put in, and I’m a believer in being rewarded for effort and excellence, something banded systems still allow for.
It’s up to us
If anything, I’ve benefited by being a woman in a society more aware of the need for equal opportunities than ever before. We can all start businesses. We can all ask for pay rises where we think they’re deserved. We can all choose the subjects we want to choose, and the career we want, and whether or not we as women are primary caregivers, and of course, if we want children at all. These choices are how we reduce the adjusted pay gap; if indeed we want to make these choices.
Let’s continue to support each other to realize our value in the workplace, but let’s do it with the actual facts to hand, not unadjusted and frankly useless blanket statistics that don’t look at the whole issue.
I personally believe that it’s this current generation we need to worry about, not the next. The teenagers of today are positive about their financial future, based on my regular interactions with them. Let’s not allow them to be indoctrinated with supposed facts about the world of work that simply don’t stand up to basic scrutiny. As I say, this could well end up turning women away from careers by virtue of making the problem look both bigger than it is and unfixable. Creating a culture of victimhood before they’ve even had the chance to make their own decisions will do little to fix the existing five per cent gap. On the other hand, explaining why the adjusted gap exists and showing them how to fix it for themselves can and would fix it .
How this applies to PR
Susan’s experience, knowledge and no-nonsense approach is exactly what I think the PR industry needs to be paying attention to.
In an industry dominated by women until we get to the senior ranks, the pay gap is a constant conversation. It will continue to be among the key figures in every annual industry report as it well should be — but, these conversations should be had using statistics that have been through the economic ringer. I do not think PR people, the heads of trade organisations and survey companies should be conducting surveys that will spit out figures that will get a huge amount of attention using methods that have not been checked by people with the experience and knowledge to say whether or not those methods will produce an accurate end result.
The reason I thought this chapter so important is following a recent online conversation I had with the person that handles the Global Women in PR Twitter account.
They had been promoting a survey looking into the gender pay gap on a global scale. I took the survey, and encouraged other PRs to do the same. However, even with a cursory knowledge of the unadjusted and adjusted pay gaps, it was easy to spot where questions had been missed that would undoubtedly affect the results. As such, the resulting figure — that will no doubt show a huge imbalance in terms of equal pay in favour of men — will be incorrect and, I can’t imagine it will be all too different to the figures we’ve seen in other surveys.
This is an issue because, as I pointed out to them in a conversation I put into a Storify thread (2016), the exact results of the grandly titled ‘Global Gender Pay Gap Survey’ will be taught to students, and parroted by the media and people in the industry. I believe but am yet to see, with the results out later in 2016, that they will be well-reported on and well-shared by an industry paid to communicate.
As I have said in this chapter, on Twitter at the time and as Susan pointed out, we should care about every single penny, otherwise, what is the point in putting a figure to an issue?
The main concern I had with the way that the survey was collecting responses was the absolute absence of anything asking respondents about career leave.
The survey asked respondents to state their country of residence, gender, age, level of education, job title, salary, whether they received a bonus (and if so, how much), years of experience in the PR industry and many other questions, some related to confidence around asking for promotions and even the share of domestic chores.
It looks relatively comprehensive — but the ‘years of experience’ question was banded. You could select nought to two years, three to six, six to ten and so on.
Without a question referencing career leave — which could include sabbatical periods as well as parental leave — the years of experience aspect is wholly unfit for purpose. Let’s say a thirty three year old woman who started working in PR eleven years ago has had two children, and took the maximum amount of time allowed by UK law, fifty two weeks, off with each. That’s two years where she wasn’t in the industry. That same person might look at the banded responses and select ‘eleven to fifteen’ years of experience — because she started working in PR eleven years ago — when, in reality, she actually has nine. Her role and salary will reflect the time she hasn’t been in the industry when compared to male colleagues (and indeed female colleagues) who had been in a job throughout, but as per the survey, she will be seen as a female PR person who, for eleven years in the industry, is earning less than a male also with eleven years in the industry.
Without so much as asking about career leave, the results are flawed.
Another aspect is that certain key job roles were missing from the list of twenty two respondents could select. This sounds like I’m nit-picking. I am and we should. For instance, the mostly-comprehensive list did not have selections for junior account directors or senior account directors — only account directors. Anybody with a knowledge of the industry will be aware that a junior account director can earn significantly less than a senior account director. The percentage difference will be marked. This isn’t even a matter of gender pay here, but simply that if we are to espouse the results of a global PR study that will undoubtedly be treated with a huge degree of importance in the industry and in education, it should not be quite so easy to point out areas that won’t provide accurate results. The person handling the Global Women in PR Twitter account replied exasperatedly when I highlighted the missing roles, saying “we already have 22 choices of job role/level in the questionnaire. Not enough?!” — frankly, no it isn’t. It’s enough when it allows people to respond with the correct answer, not a ‘close-enough’ selection. I don’t understand how a survey’s question set that is otherwise detailed in the way it was put together could miss questions and selections that will impact on its results.
The person handling the account said they disagreed that the results would be inaccurate, as I said they would, suggesting we left the ‘debate’.
We should not be worried about challenging the results, or so much as enquiring about the methodology of surveys. It might have been a personal concern and one that I’m placing more emphasis on than actually exists, but I was in fact worried about challenging these questions, and also in asking the CIPR to see the questions it used to come to its State of the Profession 2016 findings.
I was concerned that even in daring to ask, I would be considered misogynistic at worst for my enquiry, and petty at best. I quickly got over that though knowing that without the facts, we can’t begin to understand an issue. The nature of the issue of gender pay, being one that provokes an emotional response, should not exempt it from scrutiny.
The questions I was sent that related to pay from the CIPR were:
2. Role — there were seven options here (Intern / Trainee, Assistant / Executive, Officer, Manager, Head of Communications / Associate Director, Director / Partner / MD and Owner)
3. Current gross basic salary
4. ‘Were you paid a bonus in addition to your gross basic salary over the course of the last twelve months’ and
5. The amount of that bonus
6. Level of education
7. Whether the respondent worked in a private or public company
8. Number of years in PR
It does not appear that the regression analysis took into consideration career leave as that question was apparently not asked, and the number of years in PR again only gave options for a banded response.
Using the CIPR’s data, as illustrated in the PR Moment article I mentioned, entitled ‘The State of Salaries’ (2016), women actually out-earn men between the ages of eighteen to thirty four. The gap, as found using the above questions, is £2,651.15 in favour of women aged eighteen to twenty four and £285.25 in favour of men aged twenty five to thirty four, giving a net positive for women.
It’s in the age range above that — thirty five to forty four — that the gap is much more apparent in favour of men, standing at £13,025.80. The age range above that, forty five to sixty, shows a gap of £13,760.53 and the gap jumps hugely above the age of sixty, to more than £50,000.
The CIPR’s effort at a regression analysis is the closest thing we’ve been presented with in terms of finding the adjusted pay gap, and should be commended. By making strides in methodology, the unadjusted pay gap in PR was found to be more than £9,000 off.
Using what’s been described throughout the chapter, and especially in Susan’s evaluation, there is both a potential correlation and causation for this — women give birth and adopt the role of primary caregivers.
As Susan said, the way to effectively combat the gap is to confront the issue of caregiving, especially as PR is an industry that does disproportionately reward employees that can work longer, more inflexible hours.
When at my last agency, without being too crass, I earned much more annually than I have since starting my own agency, both on account of having to build a business from scratch and also wanting to keep money in it. I saw the inequality in my wife spending much more time looking after our two children than I did while working in London four days a week, and coupled with the altogether-stronger emotion of missing my family, I made the decision to leave. I don’t regret it one bit, but to say there wasn’t an impact on my earnings immediately after as a result of being a parent and being conscious of my responsibilities to my kids would be untrue. I could have made the decision not to have children, or to continue with the time working away, and been rewarded for my presence.
I have a great deal of respect for the organisations, magazines and blogs that serve the industry, but we have some way to go until the figures we see are both accurately found and reported. The CIPR’s report is as close as we’ve got and despite there being potential issues in the regression analysis on account of career leave not being asked about, combined with respondents being given bands within which they should mark their experience, we’re on the right track.
This is why the unadjusted wage gap figures belong in a book about PR myths and misconceptions. The word ‘misconceive’ means to fail to understand something correctly, and by taking social media-friendly statistics at their word, without comprehending the issue itself, that’s exactly what we’re doing — and it only hurts the industry.
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