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Mind the Gap

3 July 2017 by Sandra Lawler

Mind the Gap


Sandra Lawler Marketing, customer

The results of the 2016 Marketing and Digital Salary and Sentiments Survey are now out. And interesting reading they make. One element picked up by the press is the higher differential in salaries paid to men in marketing than women, the higher up the scale they go.


So what do the figures show?

At director level the average male salary is 138k, 18% higher than female directors in the survey. Although 61% of the survey’s respondents were female, vs 39% male, relatively speaking males are more likely to occupy more senior roles and be on better packages then females.

There are a higher number of males than females at Director/ Head of level- the only career level where this is the case. And there were 45 males earning salaries of over €150k in our survey, compared to just 14 females.

At more junior levels women are better paid than their male counterparts, in particular at the early career stage.


The salary gap doesn’t stop there- Males get better bonuses too

61% of males get a bonus, vs 54% of females and get a higher percentage level of bonus too. Their KPI’s are more likely to be linked to revenue/profit /other financials. They are more likely to get a car or allowance (because they value this and push for it more?) and to participate in share schemes. They are more likely to be more commercial roles, so the car and greater bonuses may be linked to this. But perhaps it’s not…


So why the Gap??

At a briefing session to senior marketers in Dublin, we explored the possible reasons for the disparity at senior level and also shared our experience, as a recruitment and executive search business providing senior marketing and digital talent into businesses.


Firstly, its down to confidence and simply asking! It was felt that males in general are quicker to believe their worth, defend their value and negotiate harder than females going into new roles.

Males will typically put themselves forward for roles that are a stretch and tend to be more confident of success, even when they have a lot, but not all of the requisite skills sets. A female by contrast is often more hesitant going for or accepting a senior role until they feel they have 100% of the skills required.

And once through the interview process men tend to be more persistent in their negotiation and demand for a higher salary and more likely to refuse the first, or even the second offer made.

When in a job, males are also anecdotally more likely to continue to value their worth. As a senior (male) financial services director said “men still define themselves in Ireland hugely by their work- and the defence of their title and salary are critical indicators of success for them”.


Salaries may be influenced by maternity leave and salaries may be traded off for more flexibility

He also felt that women at a senior level, who are often those at the life stage most likely to have children, are often lacking in confidence returning to the workforce and may not push the salary agenda.

In his experience (and indeed in ours) they are often more likely to seek a four- day week or increased flexibility and perhaps focus on this when they re-negotiate, rather than on salary.

The survey supports this to an extent. 43% of females in our survey rated flexibility as a top motivating factor vs 34% of men. And females get better annual leave: 49% of females get 25 days plus holidays, compared to just 41% of males, so perhaps the salary vs. annual leave is a real trade off.

However the gap remains and we need to act

As our survey compared exact roles with exact roles, by gender, it is fair to say that whatever the reason the gap in salary and packages do exist, exist they do.

It doesn’t surprise us. After all it’s an inequality in Ireland that is seen across industry. According to Eurostat, the pay gap between men and women in Ireland has in fact widened in recent years, with women earning 14.4% less than men for their work in 2015.

But if it doesn’t surprise us, it should bother us. We should care that our hard-working wives, daughters, nieces, friends are equally paid for their work as their male counterparts.

As a talent agency we need to stand up for our female candidates. We need to encourage them to put themselves forward for senior roles and to help them achieve a fair offer.

As employers we need to have simple salary/package metrics in place and indeed publish them. We need to challenge ourselves on the unconscious biases that exist at the recruitment stage and at annual reviews.

And as females we need to value and defend our worth.

Why wouldn’t we? As Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister, responded when asked why he had appointed 50% women to his cabinet –“Because it’s 2015”.


It’s 2016 here now.


Sandra Lawler