When Pay Disparity Is Good News

It’s funny what constitutes good news sometimes. ‘Ship sinks but half the passengers saved’ is good news for the 50% who got off the ship but not brilliant for those who didn’t make it.

A similar thought crossed my mind when I went over the results of the 5th annual salary survey from the London-based recruitment firm Propel. The report provides an amazingly granular industry insight into core salary benchmarking to employment conditions. The survey cross-referenced 4,566 individual cases across four main digital sectors — Marketing, Advertising, Creative Services and Technology. It’s a pretty impressive piece of work, and it covers a lot of ground but there was one finding which really stood out to me.
It turns out that there is, on average, a 7% disparity in pay between men and women at board level in the digital industry.

Based on the responses of 2,000 participants, the survey revealed that although the digital industry is still well under the national average of women being paid 19% less than men, in senior roles there is a still a notable pay gap — although this does fall to 3% at mid-level and 1% in entry or junior level roles.

“Even though the gender pay gap has increased in the UK in the past three years, what is truly encouraging is that the digital industry is leading the way in closing this gap. Whilst at junior level we see a 1% difference, it is the executive level that has yet to adapt and move forward," said founder and CEO of Propel, Melina Jacovou.

"Still, compared to other sectors, the digital industry has been more welcoming to women in senior positions and is a promoter in recognising talent and skills above all.”

So, the headline here is really ‘Digital Industry still has gender issues but hey, we’re not as bad as everybody else’. And it seems that further down the food chain, the difference is much smaller. But there is still a difference.

There are other issues for women in tech and digital as well. The survey also found that women still only make up 10% of the tech community. Despite the relatively small gender pay positive, only a small percentage of VC-backed start-ups are founded by women. The count stands at about 13% in the US and is thought to be lower in the UK.

It also found that far fewer women compared to men see themselves still working in technology in five years’ time.

I cannot help but feel depressed by this. The digital industry is often held up as shining beacon of the new economy, an example of the service industries that will hopefully haul the economy back into the black. We look at figures such as NicolaMendelsohn at Facebook, Natalie Massenet at Net a Porter and Joanna Shields as ambassadors for the UK’s digital industry. We have the great work done by She Says, The Drum’s Girl Guides Series and the WIE initiative. The work is being done but we can see that the work needs to be done faster.

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