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Does marketing have a glass ceiling?

10/04/2015

Despite the widespread assumption that we're now in a utopian post-feminism society, the reality is that many women still face a glass ceiling when reaching a certain point in their career - this is also true in the world of marketing, although it has performed better than other sectors in recent years.

The Chartered Institute for Marketing (CIM) released a paper earlier this month intended to stimulate debate on the topic, albeit hopefully not the kind of debate that oozes from the Guardian's comment board after every article about feminism.

In the paper, the CIM points out that the 2012-13 Croner Marketing Rewards survey revealed the gender pay gap was the lowest it has been in a decade.

However, this positive news should not leave the industry patting itself on the back. At director level there remains a 2.7 per cent variance in favour of men, suggesting there could still be more done to drive up diversity in the top tiers of businesses.

According to the organisation, a number of factors prevent female marketers from making it all the way, including psychological factors and a difference between how much men and women are paid at director level.

But what can businesses do to improve their diversity levels? Should quotas be imposed, or does change need to be organic to be positive?

Opinions on this matter are divided with some women calling for regulatory action to be taken but others suggesting that longer-lasting change could be brought about by trying to change cultural and business attitudes.

Mars Chocolate president Fiona Dawson told the CIM: "It's about creating the right environment for success, and allowing individuals to flex their career aspirations in line with their life-stage."

She highlighted initiatives that allow women to work from home or create mutable schedules as crucial to doing this.

The debate on diversity in marketing is likely to rumble on, with different businesses adapting their own approaches - to use an inappropriate idiom, the proof is will be in the pudding.

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