Women in IR: Work in progress

Jun 04, 2018
With men still taking up nearly two thirds of top IR jobs, it seems no meaningful crack appeared in IR’s glass ceiling in 2017

In IR Magazine’s summer 2017 issue, we uncovered a disturbing reality about gender inequality in IR career paths and compensation. Fast forward to summer 2018 and the situation has improved slightly, according to our latest Global Salary & Careers Report (published in IR Magazine, spring 2018): women, who accounted for 33 percent of IR head jobs in 2016, now occupy 35 percent of the leading IR roles.

These results are encouraging but there’s still a lot of work to be done. A look at salary figures shows that both male and female IR heads have the same global median pay range of $150,000-$199,999, but that the percentage of women IR bosses earning above this range has decreased from 36 percent to 35 percent year on year, compared with 41 percent of men (down from 47 percent in 2016). There are now even more women in top IR jobs (49 percent) earning below this range than there were in 2016, when the figure stood at 41 percent. The percentage of male IR heads earning below the median salary range is more or less unchanged, at around 30 percent.

Things have not improved for women IR professionals in more junior roles, either: although male and female IROs again share the same median salary range ($75,000-$99,999), the proportion of women earning above that level has decreased from 34 percent to 31 percent this past year, while for men it has remained the same at 45 percent.

One positive note is that there is a larger proportion of women IR heads (5 percent) than men (3 percent) in the highest-earning pay range of $350,000 to $499,000. In addition, the proportion of women IR bosses receiving a bonus (91 percent) was slightly higher than for men (89 percent) in 2017, although men typically received 35 percent of their salary as a bonus, against 30 percent, on average, for women.

The pay gap is even wider among IROs, where men were on average awarded a 29 percent bonus and women a 20 percent bonus – and that was assuming the women received a bonus at all. Almost one third of female IROs (29 percent) reportedly received nothing on top of their base salary in 2017, compared with 23 percent of men.

IR salary by gender

Before and around IR

A look at IR practitioners’ backgrounds reveals that women are more likely than men (63 percent compared with 57 percent, respectively) to have worked in another corporate function before moving into investor relations, while men (at 28 percent) are more likely than women (at 25 percent) to have come from a capital markets background.

Women are more than twice as likely as men to have come directly from a corporate communications role while just 2 percent of men – compared with 3 percent of women – say they have ‘always worked in investor relations.’

Another notable finding is that women are more likely than men to have an IR-only role. Women IROs wearing several hats will most likely see communications, PR or corporate secretary added to their remit, while for men the strategy and treasury functions are the most common add-ons.

Job satisfaction

For the first time this year, the report gathered insight into a crucial aspect of an IR professional’s career path: job satisfaction. Here again, there is gender-related disparity. Asked which one aspect might improve their fulfilment at work, women respondents view internal and external factors as equally important. Furthermore, according to survey findings, women prioritize improved resources –leading, for instance, to better targeting capabilities or improvements to the shareholder base – over their job function or the strategic positioning of investor relations within their company. Male IROs, on the other hand, are more likely to view improvements in their job coming from internal corporate changes.

Improvements to job satisfaction, by gender

This article first appeared in the Summer 2018 issue of IR Magazine

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