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Finding gender pay gap solutions to make a genuine difference for the PR sector and using our skills to drive change across other professions – Andrew Ross, Public Relations & Policy Manager at the CIPR

Meeting

Andrew Ross is Public Relations & Policy Manager at the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) and he has responsibility for public relations, public affairs, regulatory issues and policy development within the institute. In September the organisation launched a new package to help public relations professionals during maternity leave and the return to work process in support of the CIPR’s 10,000 plus members based across the UK, of whom approximately 55% are female. 

Andrew Ross
Andrew Ross

In November 2014 the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) played host to a hack day in an attempt to find solutions to address the findings from the 2014 CIPR State of the Profession survey which revealed an average gender pay gap of over £12,000 in favour of men. #GENDERPAYHACKDAY

As a purportedly ‘female friendly’, flexible and progressive industry, having a pay gap of any figure, let alone one pushing over the £10k mark, is a disgrace – and it’s my view that the Institute must take a stand.

Finding gender pay gap solutions in our sector leading to driving change within other professional disciplines

If we can find solutions that work for our sector, we can make a genuine difference and use our skills to communicate and drive change within other professional disciplines.

This drive has already led to some fantastic work in 2014, but our feeling was that we needed a day to bring together strands of our previous work and thrash out a long-term strategy to close that gap.

The hack day – usually the reserve of computer programmers and software developers – was a way of bringing together people from different backgrounds to debate and develop solutions to tackle the issue.

The day was led by CIPR Board Member Sarah Hall and CIPR member Michelle Goodall, attendees ranged from male and female CIPR members, non-members, HR and recruitment professionals, and gender pay gap experts.

Expert insight sessions

Expert insight sessions provided context of the current situation, previous approaches taken by other industries, and creative and disruptive ways to tackle employee wellbeing.

Jack Hubbard, CEO of SEO and digital agency Propellernet talked about his passion for his colleagues, and his role in realising their dreams. He runs his business with the goal of creating a great place to work to attract, retain and motivate his staff. As such, equal pay is a given.

Sheila Wild put the situation in stark terms. Sheila revealed that in April 2013 the median full-time gender pay gap for hourly earnings was 10%, an increase on the previous year. For the tax year ended 5 April 2013 the figure for median gross annual earnings for male full-time employees was £29,300, while for women the figure was £23,600. Averages do not tell the full story: some women will experience no pay gap; others will experience much larger inequalities in earnings than the headline figures imply.

Time to draw a line in the sand

This data and the shared experiences really did make the group believe now is the time to draw a line in the sand. It also gave us confidence that we can really take a lead in providing workable solutions to be hopefully adopted by other sectors.

The following discussion – or hack – produced some heated and enthusiastic debates, and ultimately some fantastic ideas for where we go next.

Equal pay audits?

Gathering further data was discussed at length both from practitioners and from our businesses. Equal pay audits were the focus of the discussion – should we deliver a Think, Act, Report for PR? Opinion was divided.

My view is that an Equal Pay Audit alone does not directly address other aspects of inequality; however getting this data should be our goal by the end of 2015. It will be important in our work to address pay gaps not only by gender, but also by ethnicity, disability or by working pattern.

Not yet time to draft the copy and design the t-shirts

This discussion prompted agreement that separate campaigns and messages were needed for employers and employees, and as you’d expect there were some great creative ideas. But before we start drafting the copy and designing the t-shirts, it was our agreed our first job still is to convince the profession, and our leaders, that this is a critical issue.

So what about the quick wins?

We decided we must lead on the business case for diversity in employment. Early in 2015 we agreed to publish guidance covering a range of employment topics and issues for employees and employers. This will start with tips on salary negotiation and assertiveness, and move to best practices for line managers in recruitment.

Events and more formal training in this area are also in the pipeline, but they must be openly available at flexible times and accessible to working families.

So where do we go first? The answer was back to the data

The 2015 State of the Profession survey is now in the field, and we want to know more – we need to know more to make a difference. This year, alongside the regular salary data, we want to know the industry’s attitudes towards flexible working, bonus structures, and number of practitioners with children. These will provide important measures as we plan out the path to equality.

Data is just the start, but without this, we believe we lack a strong evidence base for our future work. There’s much to do – and I’m keen that we crack on, especially with the t-shirts. I look forward to sharing our progress with you in 2015.

You can learn more about the CIPR’s work on gender balance and equal pay here:

http://www.cipr.co.uk/content/policy-resources/gender-balance-and-equal-pay

 

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