The results of our 2015 Salary Survey should be a red flag for the industry

Job security is on the increase and there is a fresh focus on gathering multifarious career experiences; at the same time, however, pay is down and the gender gap, worryingly, appears to be expanding. Ben Bold breaks down the CIM's latest survey of marketers' salaries

The results of our 2015 Salary Survey should be a red flag for the industry

Confident, yet restless. This was the overall mood of the 2015 Salary Survey, which was conducted by the CIM in partnership with Marketing. Despite good levels of job security and

satisfaction, there was a lot of movement, perhaps reflecting an acknowledgement of the need for new skills within the sector.

Positivity took a dip when it came to diversity, equality and inclusion. There was a general sense that the sector could do better and, while women and men were

almost level in terms of representation in leadership roles, there were some serious discrepancies in pay.


Less than 12 months


1-2 years


3-5 years


11-19 years


More than 20 years


This year’s survey also brought to light some worrying figures in terms of remuneration more generally. Alarmingly, the average salary for marketers had fallen from £44,150 in 2013 (the last time Marketing and the CIM published a report) to £39,525 in 2015.

There was a marginal difference between men’s and women’s salaries in 2013, which averaged £45,300 and £43,000 respectively.

But in 2015 that gap has widened to a gulf. Women were paid an average of £35,507, with their male counterparts paid over £12,000 more at £47,575. The discrepancies did not end there. Commissions for men were an average £6642, but women received nearly half that, at £3808; meanwhile, bonuses to men averaged £9244, but those paid to women were almost two-thirds lower, at £3144.






Annual basic pay




Annual commission




Annual potential bonus




Last actual bonus





Methodology The CIM’s survey respondents were 3445 UK marketers, 67% female and 33% male. Their average age was 34, with nearly 10 years’ experience. The biggest proportion (21%) of those were generalist marketers; 14% were digital and web specialists, 13% focused on campaign management and 11% worked in strategy and planning.

"It’s the bit of the survey that worried me, in terms of the findings," says Pete Markey, chief marketing officer of the Post Office. "In my experience, I’m not seeing that. But if there is a gender-bias trend across marketing, it needs to be looked at.

I always think of marketing as at the forefront of equality. For me, these findings are a bit of a red flag for the industry." The data gleaned from the CIM’s research paints a far from rosy picture, and yet this year’s survey identified that, at least in some areas, the gender divide is narrow.

Nearly half (49%) of marketers had been in their current job for less than two years

While more than half (53%) of respondents said the chief marketer in their organisation was a man, for 43% their business’ department was led by a woman. (The remainder, strangely, did not know.)

"What we’re seeing positively coming through is that companies have been investing in talent for the past 20 years and we’re seeing those talented people shine, whether they’re male or female," says Markey.

Nearly half (49%) of marketers had been in their current job for less than two years, a fifth changed jobs in the past year, and 44% were actively looking to change jobs in the next year.

Is this promiscuity among the ranks, or a reflection of a healthy job market? According to Clare Kemsley, managing director of recruitment consultancy Hays Marketing, the finding that more than three-fifths were planning to make a job move "reflects the confidence we are seeing among our own candidates".

For Zoe Harris, group marketing director at media group Trinity Mirror, the figures point toward a greater diversity of career opportunity.

"People are looking to find their own careers," she says. "Perhaps the explanation is that, while their parents had a job for life and rose up the ranks, people now have a greater sense of ownership of their careers and perhaps grow their own profiles and networks through LinkedIn and social media.

Language of the boardroom

You have opportunities to experience different facets of marketing, whether different silos, or in analytics, strategic or creative." Markey agrees, adding that some staff move around within the Post Office business to acquire different skills. "It’s a challenge for businesses now," he says.

"There are a lot of opportunities out there and digital has widened the marketing landscape – skills in natural search, for example, are highly sought-after and command big salaries. People and talent are in demand and therefore there’s a chance to move around."

A greater proportion of men claimed to work longer hours than their female counterparts

He adds: "For marketing to succeed, we have to know the language of the boardroom, and the profession is far more results-driven than before, so being commercial and knowing the language of business is crucial." The dominant driver behind those actively seeking new employment was a perception that they were being paid below the market rate – 49% gave this as a reason, while 40% cited poor promotion prospects.

"It is encouraging to see that so many marketers are aspiring to reach the top level of the profession, but with many doubting their prospects for promotion in their current role, businesses will need to work even harder to keep their best people," says Kemsley.

"This means focusing not just on pay, but also investing in the other benefits that employees value, such as support for training, a healthy work-life balance and flexible working policies." There were more notable differences between the sexes in terms of long-term career plans.

More women (75%) than men (67%) had their sights set on reaching a senior marketing role, with a greater proportion of males (11%) preparing to quit the discipline, compared with just 6% of women. A greater proportion of men claimed to work longer hours than their female counterparts, with 16% of male respondents and 9% of females saying they worked 50 hours a week.

"It would be good to understand whether men tend to exaggerate their worked hours or women tend to underplay it," says Harris. "It’s difficult to answer. We’d all rather say we’re not working longer, but working smarter. People in the survey are quite young.

23% of respondents believed that the industry was guilty of age discrimination

Perhaps they’re taking those opportunities to do those things above and beyond the day job and in new directions – they’re important in those formative years." If equality is clearly not resonating for the sexes, there is a more encouraging narrative regarding other aspects of diversity.

A quarter of marketers felt that there were no areas of weakness within the industry in terms of equal opportunities; only 8% thought marketing was subject to racial discrimination and just 3% believed religious discrimination was an issue.

That said, 23% of respondents believed that the industry was guilty of age discrimination; 18% deemed it guilty of sexism; 16% thought its attitude to pregnancy, maternity and paternity was lacking; 15% believed it discriminated on the basis of education, 14% on mental health, and 13% on disability.

"The marketing sector has the perception of being one of the most gender-balanced professions, and the split of senior marketers in this research appears to back this up," says Kemsley.

"When it comes to the wider workforce, however, there appears to be much more that could be done to close the pay and bonus gap, which may go a long way in explaining why a large number of marketers believe there are weaknesses when it comes to equal opportunities in the industry."