Senior female comms professionals face £75,000 pay gap

Female global heads of communications, with careers spanning around 20 years, are paid an average of £75,000 less than their male equivalents, new research has revealed.

The latest Salary Guide, produced by consultancy The WorksSearch, which surveyed almost 1,100 people, also identified a £15,000 pay gap for senior in-house communications managers with around nine years’ experience.

The disparity is also evident within agencies, although the magnitude is less. Female directors or partners within communications agencies are paid, on average, £60,000 less than their male counterparts.

Indeed, the pay gap for PR professionals starts ‘as early as three years into their careers’, claims Sarah Leembruggen, founder of The Works Search. It starts at around £10,000 ‘but clearly the gap is widening as the years go by’, she adds.

The research found that part of the disparity can be attributed to the preponderance of men in senior roles within companies, which means they are employed in jobs with higher salaries attached, and also to the fact that more women work part-time.

‘The gender pay gap is not only about men and women being paid differently for doing the same job,’ she adds. ‘It is also about men being present in greater numbers than women the higher up the organisation you go.’

The survey revealed that 46 per cent of women in agencies had been promoted over the past two years, compared to 53 per cent of men over the same period. But the differential is more stark in-house, where just one third of women had received a promotion compared to half (48 per cent) of men.

The Salary Guide also revealed that a global head of communications of a listed company is paid, on average, £140,000, although salaries for the position range from £90,000 to £240,000. A director of communications or PR can expect an average salary of around £140,000, although this also ranges from £65,000 to as much as £260,000. Heads of media average £100,000.

However, those in-house professionals working for unlisted organisations are paid less than their equivalents at listed companies. Heads of media, for example, are paid around £10,000 less.

Just over half (56 per cent) of all those surveyed received a pay rise last year, and two thirds received a bonus, including three per cent who received bonuses worth between 50 and 100 per cent of their salaries.