APAC PR salary survey: Men paid 36 per cent more than women, training levels down, Aussies paid most, Southeast Asians least

The PR gender gap: men earn 36 per cent more than men in APAC

The PR gender gap: men earn 36 per cent more than women

A survey of the salaries of mostly senior public affairs and corporate comms executives in Asia Pacific has found that while salary levels have risen slightly this year, a gender pay gap “remains visible”, and the levels of training have fallen.

The average gross pay for PRs in Asia, including bonuses, is US$152,587, a 7.2 per cent rise compared to 2013, according to the annual study compiled by The Research Pacific Group for PublicAffairsAsia and recruitment firm Prospect.

The increase is due to a rise in bonus levels, which amounted to an average of 23.6 per cent of gross salary over the last 12 months.

Bonuses were highest in Australia, followed by China, Hong Kong and
Singapore. Salaries, bonuses and annual increases were lowest in Southeast Asia, excluding Singapore. In Australia, an in-house practitioner can earn three times more than one in Southeast Asia.

For the third year since the study began, inhouse execs are earning a lot more than their peers in other disciplines, such as PR and comms, and agency folk are shifting across to inhouse roles because of a better perceived work-life balance.

The gender pay gap “remains visible” across much of the region, the report’s authors suggest.

The survey found that the salaries of PR practitioners in Hong Kong have dropped this year, but this is because more women – who tend to be paid less than men – responded to the survey, and female respondents were mostly from agencies, which pay less well than inhouse PR roles.

Men earn 36 per cent more than women in PR, or US$136,683 versus US$100,444 on average.

“Many factors can be attributed to this,” the report reads. “But with anecdotal evidence pointing to an increase in the number of women entering the profession, and significant variations in the gender pay gap across the region, this remains an issue worthy of further investigation.”

The gender pay gap is biggest in China, where men earn 53 per cent more than women, according to the study.

The pay gap between senior and junior roles in PR is massive in Asia, the study found – particularly in China. Those in top jobs on the mainland earn 6.3 times more than those in junior roles.

High level practitioners earn an average of US$260,464, with those in Singapore earning more than anywhere else in Asia – nearly US$286,000, with people in similar positions in Hong Kong and Australia bringing in the next highest amounts in the region.

Levels of training in PR remain worryingly low – and have fallen year on year. Only six in 10 respondents reported receiving any training this year, and those who were trained received just 2.7 days of it, down from the 3.2 days reported in 2013.

In a roundtable debate to discuss the ramifications of the study, it emerged that many mid-level agency staffers are leaving agencies to go inhouse for a better work-life balance. “This, we noted, is creating a vacuum in many large agencies,” the authors observed.

“Whether in a large agency or a smaller independent consulting firm, Prospect’s Emma Dale observed that consultants must find ways to work more closely with corporations, in order to blur the line between agency and client and develop a stronger relationship. This will help to encourage more transparent ways of working – with clients and consultants becoming aligned on expectations and deadlines, ultimately creating happier teams.”

In terms of how happy PR executives are at work, the survey found that Singaporeans tend to be the least satisfied with their bosses, while those in China are the least happy with their colleagues.

The report also concluded that the days of the expat package are over.

Dale of Prospect said: “Expat benefits really have declined mainly due to the fact that companies can source talent already based in Asia – as most communications positions are regional. In addition, multinational companies and agencies have been cutting costs and the expat package was the first to go. When a company specifically requires global expertise and can’t source the talent in Asia they may offer an expat package to entice an individual to Asia. However the packages are limited and not as attractive as they used to be.”

Most respondents to the survey were over 40 years old, and most (44 per cent) were women; 15 per cent did not reveal their gender. Half worked in inhouse roles, 34 per cent in agency and the rest in government or NGO positions.

The survey was done between June 24 and August 30 this year using online questionnaires.  There was 674 responses, of which 464 were useable.


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