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Mind the pay gap

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Sarah Hall, CIPR President-Elect candidate, and founder and editor of #FuturePRoof

The announcement that the PRCA is to include gender pay gap reporting in its Consultancy Management Standard (CMS) and that the CIPR will share data in the drive to end pay inequality is a huge step forward for the public relations industry.

 UK business has a major issue with equal pay. Women effectively work for free for an hour and 40 minutes a day according to research by the Chartered Management Institute and XPertHR.

In female-dominated industries such as public relations, the problem is even more acute.

In 2015, the CIPR’s State of the Profession Survey identified a salary discrepancy of £8,483 in favour of men, unexplainable by any other factor such as length of service, seniority, parenthood, or a higher prevalence of part-time work among women.

Change is well overdue; the Equal Pay Act was first introduced in 1970. We are already more than 40 years out of date.

But change is gathering pace. The PRCA has announced its pay gap as 9.1% (the national average being 19.1%), recognising that the first step to addressing the issue is transparency.

It’s making gender pay reporting an element of its Consultancy Management Standard (CMS), which evaluates consultancies on how well they are run and whether they have the correct systems and structures in place.

It’s a huge leap forward and as Mary Whenman, the President of Women in PR, says “inspired and game-changing.”

 Collaboration is the key

That’s not the only good news. I’m standing for the role of President-Elect in the CIPR elections (underway now) and have been calling for greater collaboration between the CIPR, AMEC, Global Alliance, ICCO, PRCA and the PRSA.

The CIPR’s acknowledgement of the PRCA’s move and its decision to share its own findings with the PRCA so the two bodies can work together on ending pay discrimination should be commended.

This is exactly how our industry leaders should be working together to make the public relations business stronger and healthier.

It’s now time for the rest of the industry to follow suit.

We can’t wait any longer

For close to two years now, gender parity and the pay gap has been a key policy area for the CIPR.

When I was a member of its Board, I led the gender and diversity work which saw the Institute team with Sheila Wild from the Equal Pay Portal to look for potential solutions to the issue and provide policy direction.

The return to work process was identified as one creating issues for employers and employees alike, resulting in the production of ten practical best practice guides developed with the help of The Talent Keeper Specialists.

From handing over and keeping in touch through to role renegotiation, the toolkits help those involved find a solution to suit all parties.

The CIPR’s production of nine recommendations for enabling flexible working in PR has also been useful in making strides forward.

Aimed at helping employers manage the shift to a round the clock service provision as dictated by 24/7 online and offline media, while delivering work-life balance for staff, the guides are equally beneficial in helping parents achieve hours that are better suited to managing both work needs and childcare.

Transparency is the only answer

The truth of the matter is that the gender pay gap will only become a thing of the past when all organisations have to publish salary data to show they are complying with legislation.

Every single one of us as employers can make a big difference if we are prepared to be ethical, honest and employ best practice. Let’s do it, there’s no time to lose.