Black women in the creative industries earn the lowest average salary

Rosa Rolo, Commercial Director, Major Players, has urged the industry to take action to ensure fair pay for all.

Nicola Kemp

Editorial Director Creativebrief


Black women in the creative industries earn the lowest average salary according to Major Players Salary survey.

Speaking at Creative Equals RISE conference today Rosa Rolo, Commercial Director at Major Players, laid bare how the coronavirus crisis has exacerbated inequality, with Black women facing the biggest pay gap. 

According to Major Players’ data, Black women earn the lowest average salary in the creative industries at £38k, compared to white men who earn the most at £58k.

The research underlined the urgent need for the creative industries to take action to close not just the gender pay gap, which has long topped industry headlines, but to urgently address the ethnic pay gap. 

Covid has exacerbated the gender pay gap

The report also revealed that women in the creative industry continue to be squeezed on salary as they progress in their careers; with their salaries stalling and failing to progress in the ‘messy middle’ of their careers. The survey reveals that women are earning more than their male counterparts both at entry and mid level. However, this trend declines when the salary band reaches over £50,000 with men three times more likely to earn more than £100,000. It revealed that on average women earn £10,405 less than men in permanent roles and £44 less in freelance day rates. 

45% of women have seen a decrease in their income as a result of the pandemic, compared with just a quarter of men. Working mothers are 47% more likely to have permanently lost their jobs or to have quit compared with working fathers (Institute for Fiscal Studies).

The Major Players survey also found that those within the LGBT+ community are likely to be paid up to 7% less than their heterosexual colleagues. Meanwhile less than one in 10 within the creative industries is aged 45 and over.

Joanne Lucy, Managing Director at Major Players, said: “I firmly believe we are now at a crossroads. We all have an opportunity to be a conduit for positive change and rebuild society to be more inclusive for all. More is needed to be done, though, to close the gap, and to reach people from minority backgrounds to ensure these groups are represented in the job marketplace going forward.”

Major Players has urged candidates not to disclose their salaries as part of their groundbreaking ‘Earn Your Worth’ campaign, The company also plans to present a petition to the government to ensure all salary information is removed from the hiring process.

Employees in the creative industries value their work-life balance over salary

The research also shone a light on a fundamental shift in values afoot in the wake of the pandemic. For the first time workers in the creative industries are prioritising having interesting work and company culture over salary.

The mindset shift ushered in by the pandemic has led 74% of employees to rate work-life balance as the most important factor in their current or next role. This places it above salary (62%) career progression (55%) and security (49%) as the key attributes they look for in a role. While flexible working hours was top of the list for most-valued employee benefits (80%).

“People are making new choices about where they want to live and creating new expectations around flexibility, working conditions and work-life balance,” the report explains. Notably, with 35% of employees across the creative industries being on furlough in May 2020, many people across the industry have had time to rethink their expectations of the workplace. 

Flexible Futures

This reset moment extends to a fundamental reappraisal of what flexible working means. The pandemic has shown that working remotely at scale is achievable and that initial concerns around productivity were largely unfounded. The report notes that the industry faces “a big challenge in investing in digital infrastructure which will continue to allow for a new hybrid working model.”

The report also highlights the impact of the phenomenal rise of ecommerce on the industry; with 46% growth in the sector in 2020. A trend which is fuelling a huge growth in in-house digital teams, driving content roles, digital marketing and social positions. 

The survey was compiled by Major Players using data collected from 2,455 respondents and combined with industry insights gathered from senior talent partners.

Key Figures - The impact of Covid-19 on the creative industries

of companies furloughed their staff - 9.9 million people
of respondents said their employment status had changed during Covid-19
4 in 10 people
revealed they had taken a pay cut between 5 and 20%
Over a third
of people had lost their bonus or were unsure if they would receive one they had accrued

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