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Mar 07, 2022

Highest-paying companies fuel gender gap in IR

Men outnumber women two to one as IR heads in North America

Men are twice as likely as women to be IR heads in North America, according to IR Magazine’s latest Global Salary & Careers report. While the gender split for North American IR teams is an average of 55 percent male to 45 percent female, for heads of the team it is two thirds men, one third women.

This glass ceiling in North American IR not only drives the global imbalance in gender seniority but may also provide some explanation for the global gender pay gap. For the past several years IR Magazine has identified a slight majority of IR professionals globally as men, typically around 52 percent. Over the same period, the gender gap for IR heads has narrowed from two thirds male in 2016 to 59 percent in the latest report.

In Europe, 53 percent of IR heads are men, and this broadly matches the 52/48 gender split for IR teams in Europe in general. Asian IR heads are more likely to be women: while women in Asia make up 54 percent of IR professionals, they account for 62 percent of IR heads.

The regional difference in gender seniority can have a knock-on effect when it comes to global differences in pay between men and women. The global median pay for male IR heads is in the $200,000 to $249,999 range. For women it is one pay bracket lower, at $150,000 to $199,999.

Salaries compared by region

When salaries are compared by region, North American IR heads are the best paid with a median salary of $200,000 to $249,999. European heads have a median salary of one pay bracket lower, $150,000 to $199,999, while Asian IR heads have a median pay range of $100,000 to $149,999, two brackets lower than their North American counterparts.

It follows that if North American IR heads are disproportionately male and Asian heads are more likely to be female, this will result in a global gender pay gap for IR heads without taking any other factors into account.

The same experience is found when the gender gap is viewed taking company size into account. Small-cap IR heads are more likely to be women, even though the majority of small-cap IR professionals are men. Mid-cap IR heads broadly match the gender make-up of their IR teams.

For larger companies, however, the situation is different: among large-cap IR teams, 63 percent of bosses are male. With mega-cap companies it is even higher, with seven in 10 IR heads male, representing more than twice the number of women bosses.

As with regional comparisons, the groups with the most men are the best paid. The median pay for IR heads at small and mid-cap companies is $150,000 to $199,999, while for large and mega-cap companies it is more than $200,000.

The report shows that where women do best in IR is at companies where pay is typically lower, while the senior IR positions in typically higher-paid companies are dominated by men. As long as this situation exists, it will become increasingly hard to further narrow the gender pay gap in IR.

IR Magazine’s Salary & Careers report is available to Advanced subscribers to IR Magazine.