No quick fixes on gender pay gap in public relations but here’s a start

No quick fixes on gender pay gap in public relations but here’s a start

Ruby-McGregor-Smith-CBE.jpg

Listen. Can you hear that noise? If you listen closely you’ll hear a low pitched whistling sound. Granted you’ll have to put your head close to the ground and prick your ears up.

That’s the sound of the wind of change that’s sweeping through the public relations business.

Last week I blogged about the gender pay gap in business. In our sector there’s a £12,000 gap between men and women.

In my view there are lots of reasons for this, ranging from negotiation skills to maternity leave, and from a lack of transparency on salaries to blatant sexism.

This isn’t a woman’s issue. It’s a societal issue.

Lauren Laverne writing in The Observer at the weekend cited Oxfam’s G20 and Gender Equality report which estimates that if women’s paid employment rates were the same as men’s, the Eurozone’s GDP would increase by 13 per cent.

Tackling the issue needs lots of small changes on lots of fronts. Legislation isn’t the answer. We’ve had an Equal Pay Act in the UK since 1970.

We need to be the change that we want to see. We’ve made a start at the CIPR by quantifying and shining a harsh spotlight on the issue.

CIPR launches package to support members through maternity leave and return to work

“Supporting women through maternity and their return to work is such a value investment and it’s great that the CIPR and public relations industry is taking an active lead in this area,” said Ruby McGregor Smith CBE.

We’ve also started to take practical steps. Today the CIPR has announced a package intended to help women navigate maternity leave and then return to work confidently.

The package includes a break of up to 12 months from subscription fees and from having to log Continuing Professional Development (CPD) credits. It also comprises bespoke guides to managing maternity leave and returning to work produced in association with The Talent Keeper Specialists as well as access to an online community and support.

It isn’t a panacea but it is the first of a number of initiatives to be delivered in 2014, which aim to address gender balance and equal pay in public relations.

It’s a first for a professional body in the UK and a unique offering for the public relations profession. I hope that others will follow our lead.

It follow last week’s research from the Chartered Management Institute which suggested women begin to fall behind at the age when they are most likely to be starting a family.

Earlier in August law firm Slater & Gordon published research that found a third of managers would rather employ a man in his 20s or 30s than a woman of the same age for fear of maternity leave and that six in ten mothers felt side-lined from the moment they revealed they were pregnant.

Sarah Hall

The CIPR's move has been supported by Ruby McGregor-Smith, CBE, Chair of the Women’s Business Council and Chief Executive of Mitie Group plc, the FTSE 250 strategic outsourcing company.

“Supporting women through maternity and their return to work is such a value investment and it’s great that the CIPR and public relations industry is taking an active lead in this area,” said McGregor-Smith.

My thanks to CIPR board member Sarah Hall, herself a mother and business owner, for leading this initiative.

“As the professional body for an industry that is more than two-thirds female, we should be an exemplar to other sectors and this is just the start of the CIPR taking a more active role in gender equality, diversity and professional ethics,” said Hall.

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