GWPR survey reveals significant gender gap at top

Leading international networking group GWPR (Global Women in PR) revealed that although women represent two-thirds of the global PR industry, 78% of the CEOs in the top 30 PR agencies worldwide* are men and that they also occupy 62% of seats at the PR boardroom table.

The data collected from the GWPR annual survey, into the working practices of the global PR industry, highlights the fact that very few PR women make it to the top of the profession.

When it comes to salaries women are also falling behind. Comparing like for like, the average salary for men in PR is US$61,284 (£46,156) compared to women US$55,212 (£41,584) – revealing a gender pay gap of $6,072 (£4,572).

By far the biggest gender pay gap is at boardroom level. There is a staggering gap amongst the highest earners, with more than double the number of men (28%) earning over US$150,000 (£113,700) compared to 12% of women.**

The PR workplace does not appear to be more gender equal as we get older – 36% of women believe the PR industry is ageist, compared with 25% of men.

The GWPR survey also provided an important insight into the work/life balance and working practices giving clues as to why more women are not better represented at the top of a profession where they dominate.

One noticeable finding was the confidence gap. Twice as many women (26%) say they are ‘not confident’ asking for a promotion or pay rise, compared to 13% of men. And when asked if they think they will reach the top of the career ladder – 28% of men believe they will ‘definitely’ get there, whereas only 18% of women believe this.

When women were asked what was holding them back the top responses were: ‘it would be too difficult to juggle the demands of a boardroom role with my home and family commitments’ (34%) and ‘I’m not confident enough’ (30%).

Nor surprisingly, 83% of the survey respondents who were parents found balancing childcare and work commitments challenging and 2/3 of women said they took on the main responsibility for organising childcare.

Questions about the workplace clearly revealed the desire for more flexible working. Over half (56%) of the survey respondents believed they could do their job just as efficiently if they didn’t have a fixed office work space.  And a resounding 81% said they felt they would be just as efficient if they could choose the hours they worked. The global PR industry average working week was found to be 44 hours.

Commenting on the survey findings GWPR Co-founder Angela Oakes said “With 24-7 communications and the ability to stay connected anywhere in the world, why do we need to keep to the traditional 9-5 office working day? The PR industry needs to shape up to a newer, more modern way of working. This in turn will help women better manage the demands of work and family commitments so they are given the chance to reach the top of the career ladder.”

“The other clear issue raised by the survey is women’s lack of confidence. We know that gender stereotypes are determined at a very young age and there are social implications. However one solution is mentoring and training women to build confidence. Learning from other successful women that have made it to the top can help enormously in developing the right attitudes to leadership. GWPR represents senior women in the PR industry and we are committed to acting as role models to help the next generation succeed.”

ICCO Chief Executive Francis Ingham added, “It’s imperative that we address the gender gap, so we can retain talented women in the PR industry. A more balanced boardroom makes sound business sense. We need to work together to make this happen and to shape our industry for the future.”

* The Holmes Report Top 250 Agencies ranking 2017

** Holmes Report Salary Figures 2017

For further information please contact Co-founders and Joint Presidents Angela Oakes +44 (0)7860 492914 ( and Susan Hardwick +44(0)7710 260743 (