Ben Bold
Apr 26, 2023

Salaries continue to grow for majority of creative industry but gender pay gap widens

Salaries for permanent roles rose just 6% compared with last year, when they were up 10.2%.

Major Players: men continue to be paid more than women (Getty Images/Tsvi Braverman/EyeEm)
Major Players: men continue to be paid more than women (Getty Images/Tsvi Braverman/EyeEm)

Women in permanent roles in the creative industry continue to be paid less than their male counterparts, earning £9,618 less on average.

The latest salary survey by recruitment company Major Players (this year named the Creative Industries Census) analysed differences in pay, according to race, gender and sexuality, across various roles.

It found that white men in permanent roles earned the most (£64,560 on average), and £9,665 a year more than white females, while black women drew the smallest average salaries, at £46,047.

Across all gender and race categories, the gender discrepancy was similar, with females earning on average £9,618 less than men in permanent roles. Major Players noted that the latter represented a pay gap of 15.1%, "which is considerably greater than the UK average of 9.4%, as reported by The Guardian, and is despite 65% of females reporting a salary increase in the last 12 months".

The contrast between male and female salaries has worsened since last year, when women earned an average £9,247 less than men in permanent roles.

Diversity, equity and inclusion

Ethnic representation remained largely unchanged since last year's survey, with 15.6% of the creative industries workforce comprising people from Asian, black, mixed, Arabic and "other" backgrounds. Again, it fell short of the national average of 18.3% and dramatically short of London's 39.9% ethnic workforce.

Racial representation was also low across senior and C-suite roles, with only 11% of black, Asian and minority ethnic workers in positions earning more than £70,000.

While permanent white staff earned an average annual salary of £59,728, black people earned an average of £47,773 (the lowest of all ethnic groups, albeit an increase of 9.6% on last year), people of Arabic descent earned £50,679 (also up 9.6% year on year), mixed race drew £55,369 (+1.5%) and Asian workers commanded an average £51,660 (-3.7%).

"Unlike last year, there have been several changes in average salaries based on ethnicity, and despite positive strides in some areas, there are still large disparities and inequalities in others," the report said.

This year's survey highlighted an increase in the number of respondents identifying as LGBTQ+, with 18% identifying as such, an increase of 4% compared with last year. However, the census found that this community earned 8.5% less than their heterosexual colleagues.

Some 22% of respondents said they had a disability or were neurodiverse and the survey found that they were paid 9% less in permanent roles and 7% less as freelancers.

The data also found that just over one in 10 of the workforce is 45 years old or above, a statistic that has remained the same for the past three years.

Salaries for permanent roles increased 6% year on year, well behind last year's 10.2% pay increase.

Senior salaries

Representation across salaries of more than £70,000 continued to be male dominated, with 36% of people earning above this threshold being men, versus 19% women. This marked an increase of 7% for men and 3% for women.

However, this gender disparity reversed further down the seniority ladder – similarly to last year's findings, the census found that women are earning more than their male counterparts in both entry-level and mid-level roles.

Major Players' census used combined data from its annual salary survey and online salary benchmarking tool, analysing more than 70,000 data points from 8,971 responses.

The study also found that due to global instability, political upheaval and economic woes, the power dynamic between employer and employee had "reverted to type", with many businesses using the downturn as "opportunity to reset their workplace policies, rebalance their workforce, and recalibrate their existing employees".

In the report's foreword, Major Players managing director Joanne Lucy, wrote: 

"Overall, there has been very little progression within DE&I in the creative industries, and whilst representation and pay gaps have improved for some, they have regressed for most.

"There is concern that businesses will reduce investment because of the downturn, which could end up stagnating progression, or reversing it altogether. It's imperative that organisations continue to invest in creating inclusive and diverse workforces. Studies show that this not only helps improve culture and output, but also has a positive effect on the bottom line."

Campaign UK

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