Karen Blackett
Karen Blackett

Women working at WPP's UK firms earn less than their male counterparts, according to a report released by the the PR/ad conglomerate.

The median pay gap (e.g., difference between the midpoints in the ranges of men’s and women’s pay) was 14.6 percent, while the average hourly pay rate was 25.5 percent higher for men than for women. The average median pay gap for all UK companies sits at 18.4 percent, according to the study.

The gaps were not consistent across all the WPP units, however. While Ogilvy & Mather Group had a 24.7 percent median pay gap, Hill+Knowlton Strategies did much better, with women actually sitting on the positive side of a 3.9 percent median pay gap. WPP’s J. Walter Thompson Group advertising unit showed some the biggest pay gaps skewed toward men in both median and average compensation, with Kantar Media and Precise Media Monitoring boasting some of the narrowest margins between pay for male and female employees.

Perhaps more telling than the simple pay gaps, however, is where women are placed in a company’s hierarchy. Overall, there are over 14,000 WPP employees in the UK, 51 percent of them and 49 percent women. The study breaks down the workforce of each company into four quartiles, with quartile one representing the most highly paid 25 percent of employees and quartile four the lowest paid.

When looked at in those terms, the divide between men and women becomes clearer. Women comprise a significant majority of the two lowest-paid quartiles in about three-quarters of the WPP units. For quartile two, the numbers are close to even. But at the top, those numbers slant much more toward male employees, with 17 units showing a strong majority of men (55 percent or more) in quartile one. Only two units had a majority of women in quartile one, and even then it was a narrow gap, with women accounting for 51 percent of quartile one at Hill + Knowlton and 52 percent at Millward Brown UK.

Karen Blackett, recently named WPP’s UK manager says that the group is working to address that imbalance. She says that WPP is “placing an even greater emphasis on the development of female leaders, which includes actively promoting best practice in recruitment, training, mentoring, parental leave and flexible working within our companies.”