Time’s come to make pay equity for bio-health marketers a platform for change

A recent survey shows women leaders in bio-health marketing make 63% much as men; this idea is staggering.

I once worked in a clinical organization that loosely was in social work.  Among the unit’s twenty social workers, two were men. Among its four managers, two were men. There were two executives, yes, both men.

No one in this Harvard-affiliated team set out to create inequity. Yet there it was as clear as day, and everyone who worked there saw it.

This week a post I wrote about the surprising differences in pay between men and women leading bio-health marketing was published by the American Hospital Association’s society for marketers, SHSMD. My article cited the 33rd annual salary study by MM&M – and their findings which included that women in the field they cover make 63% less on average than their male counterparts.

The survey had over 1,000 respondents and showed a $100,000 difference between average male and female pay. As healthcare and biopharma has grown, men’s pay continued to climb while women’s salaries remained constant. This pay gap widened in 2017 – 2018 to 33.6% from 18.9%, and this year it nearly doubled again.

One cause of this is that men hold more of the higher-paying roles, with women claiming just 42% of director-and-above positions. Surveys tend to be directional in their accuracy, but they can awaken organizations to look for these patterns in their compensation. It should also stiffen resolve to be honest and open about what such self-reflection shows.

Last year, Marc Benioff described both how hard it was for him to accept that Salesforce had a gender pay gap and that shifting pay alone didn’t resolve this in the long run. Salesforce has made a multiyear effort to set things right.

These findings call on us all to make sure we’re not perpetuating a pattern of unfairness. And if we find we are, to let people know we’re working to set things right.

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