TUESDAY 26 JAN 2016 11:05 AM


The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) hosted a debate at the House of Commons yesterday (25 January) which saw senior PR practitioners speak about the industry’s pay gap issues.

Sarah Pinch, founder at Pinch Point Communications, described pay gap statistics as ‘an embarrassment’ 46 years on from the passing of the Equal Pay Act in 1970.

The motion up for debate was, “Requiring large firms to publish pay data will ‘end the gender pay gap in a generation’.” Mary Whenman, president at Women in PR, acted as the proposer, seconded by Stuart Bruce, founder at Stuart Bruce Associates. Sarah Pinch, CIPR past president, opposed, seconded by Lisa Townsend, a lobbyist and former parliamentary candidate.

The debate covered a broad scope of issues and opinions, but ultimately the room unanimously agreed that publishing pay data alone would not end issues of inequality. Despite depressing statistics regarding the current state of the industry (a clear pay gap of £8,483 according to the CIPR’s State of the Profession report in 2015) there were some hopeful takeaways. The numbers are improving, albeit slowly, and the issue seems to improve among millennials; who are much more likely to discuss their salaries.

The PR industry’s problem is that the high number of females working in the industry gives the appearance of gender equality, yet this number dramatically drops off as the roles become more senior. Pinch recommends a more flexible approach, with job shares and remote working.

Bruce noted that discrimination is also bad news for men since it implies unearned professional advantages. He stressed that the issue is a cultural one, and this was an opinion that the room appeared to share. He said, “Legislation is tough on inequality, but not on the cause.”

For good intentions to translate into action – many in the audience seemed to agree – measurement, and an emphasis on the economic disadvantages of inequality should become the key focus for businesses.


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