The gender pay gap – are things getting any better?

21 Aug 2019

For in-house corporate communications professionals, income disparities are already in evidence among lower level roles. By the time women are made Communications Managers, perhaps 5-8 years into their careers, they are likely to be earning an average of £11k less than their male counterparts. It’s disheartening that this difference is so great at this stage of their career. By the time women have made it to Global Head of Communications, the gap widens even more, up to a staggering £28k difference.

For agency professionals, the pay gap becomes most apparent at senior level. From averaging around a £4k difference as professionals move up the ranks, by the time women reach board level, they are likely to be £19k worse off than men.

Are things getting any better?

While there is still considerable inequality when it comes to what men and women earn in Corporate Communications, there appears to have been some progress towards closing these large gaps. In our previous survey in 2018, The Works Search found that the gap at Global Head of Communications level was an eye-watering £75k, and in agencies, women at Director level were £60k worse off than their male counterparts. So the gap has narrowed a lot here: down £47k and £41k respectively. Fantastic

It’s the same story at some other levels too. Last year, findings revealed that there was a difference of £15k on average at Communications Manager level, so the gap has narrowed by £4k over the past year. There has also been an improvement on the agency side for non-Board positions, with the difference between male and female Associate Directors down to £1k from £10k in the previous year. This is positive news. The story is not quite so bright for in-house PR/Comms Manager up to Head of Comms – there has been little change in the last two years.

Why the sudden change?

“It would seem that companies are finally taking a closer look at their pay schemes and starting to address gender discrepancies, which is very encouraging,” says Sarah Leembruggen, Managing Director of The Works Search. “In previous years, the gap has only widened so it’s heartening to see that some employers are finally attending to
the issue.”

With larger companies (over 250 employees) now having to publish their gender pay gap figures by law, it would appear that they are making an attempt to look more closely at what they are paying both their female and male employees.

“It’s not going to do their reputation any good when there are huge disparities as employees do share this confidential information,” Leembruggen points out. “However, it’s not something that can be changed easily overnight without causing upset on ‘how you value’ employees, and it is of course a cost to the business that many would rather avoid.”

The desire for equality and fairness across the sexes has become an almost daily topic of conversation in the media. It’s no longer the done thing to openly discriminate, and although some companies don’t care, many do, and they are the ones starting to make small steps to balance out the pay.

Leembruggen also stated, “Anyone who works with millennials will know that they talk openly about their salaries; this makes it harder for employers to hide any equalities, as they know that their millennial team members are feisty enough not to put up with it. Once these millennials start running the companies, things will be very different. For now, we can just hope that the gap will continue to close a little each year.”

For a more detailed insight and to download a copy of The Works Search’s Salary Guide, click here.

For more advice on salaries and bonuses, or if you think we can help you with a search for a high performing communications professional for your organisation, please get in touch with Sarah Leembruggen on 020 7903 9291 or email

Salary Survey 2018 - 2019