Even though 70.9 percent of public relations professionals are women, women are still getting cheated in the workplace. On average, male PR executives earn $125,000 a year while women make $80,000. The average yearly salary for gender nonconforming individuals and minority women is even lower.
Why are women making less?
Some believe that women choose to work less hours, prefer working jobs that turn out to have lower pay or have docile personalities that make it tough to succeed in higher paying jobs. These beliefs imply that women could shrink the pay gap if they worked harder. While working harder might help some women, it’s unlikely to help others. Not all women have the time and resources to work harder, longer hours.
What can employers do to shrink the gap?
- Offer both parents paid family leave
The US is the only industrialized country in the world that does not provide paid family leave to new parents. Currently, women who cannot afford to take unpaid time off, have to choose between their children and their careers. It’s no surprise that women’s wages decrease by about 4 percent with every child they have. Providing paid parental leave to both parents makes it possible for both parents to share caregiver responsibilities. Mothers who share parental responsibilities equally with their partners have a much easier time balancing their careers with their home life.
- Flexible work schedules
Another workplace policy that holds women back is inflexible work schedules. Studies show that fields that offer the most flexibility with work schedules have the smallest gender wage gaps. This is likely because women typically take on more parental responsibilities. Mothers who struggle to balance their caregiver roles with their work schedules typically need more flexible hours. Unfortunately, those flexible positions tend to pay less.
For example, a mother might not be able to stay late at the office in attempts to balance her full-time job with her parenting responsibilities. This could require her to take a job that allows her to work from home, even if it pays less. A father with less parental responsibilities might have more time to spare, giving him the freedom to work overtime to make more money and possibly get promoted. Both partners work in PR, but the man has more opportunities to make a higher salary and gain a higher position.
PR firms have the opportunity to allow for greater job flexibility by giving employees the opportunity to work from home. This could prevent working mothers from having to quit higher paying jobs to take lower paying positions for more flexible hours. If companies want to help close the gender wage gap, allowing more flexible schedules to accommodate employees with busy home lives could be a solution.
- Hold diversity trainings
Employers can organize agency-wide, mandatory diversity trainings to show employees that the organization is committed to an inclusive work atmosphere. Studies show that organizational climates for diversity and sexual harassment are linked to whether or not organizations hold diversity trainings.
Diversity trainings can help by increasing individual’s awareness of their biases. This ultimately creates a more inclusive work environment by helping employees be more understanding and supportive of each other’s different backgrounds and home lives.
How long will this take?
These three steps won’t solve the problem of unequal pay overnight, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.
Written By: Hannah Stevens