Hill+Knowlton Strategies Takes on Gender Pay Equity

Ahead of Equal Pay Day, and upon completion of its first external pay
audit, U.S. leadership outlines program of audits, training and
executive commitment to prevent pay gaps within the PR firm

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–#EqualPayDay–Today Hill+Knowlton Strategies (H+K) announced to U.S. employees three
pay equity commitments that aim to eliminate doubts about equal pay for
its people and ensure fairness in its compensation practices. The news
comes a day ahead of national Equal Pay Day, the date that symbolizes
how far into a new year women in the U.S. must work on average to earn
the equivalent of what men made in the prior year.

Prior to finalizing its three commitments, starting in fall 2015, H+K
took the preliminary step of taking its own macro look at gender pay
data. Being satisfied with its own findings, the firm raised the bar
higher, engaging an outside expert to provide an independent audit of
the firm’s pay data. For that, the firm turned to the expertise of Dr.
Martha Burk
, co-founder of the Center for Advancement of Public
Policy in Washington, D.C., and a nationally recognized expert on
women’s issues and pay equity. She provided the firm with a more robust
micro-level analysis of its pay data, sound advice about what data to
scrutinize moving forward, and guidance on what the firm can be doing to
ensure constant improvement.

“Many companies talk the talk, but we want to walk it,” said Mike
Coates, president and CEO of H+K Americas. “At Hill+Knowlton Strategies,
we have put ourselves through an in-depth process of review, and we will
keep doing it. So now when we give advice to our clients on these
issues, we know that we can hold ourselves to the highest level of

In its communications to staff, the public relations and communications
firm pointed to concrete ways that doubts about pay fairness can
manifest in the workplace, such as lowered confidence, reduced trust in
colleagues and leadership, decreased performance, and even active
disengagement from an employee’s job. While damaging for any industry,
the fact that roughly 70 percent of the PR industry is women makes the
potential harm even more pronounced.

“Experience has shown that equal pay initiatives, whether in the public
sector or the private sector, cannot succeed without commitment from the
top of the organization, and Hill+Knowlton has shown that commitment.
H+K is truly ahead of the curve in eliminating gender pay gaps,” Burk

The company made three commitments as part of its gender pay equity

  • Pay Analysis and Review (PAR). The firm will proactively
    examine its pay data at the macro and micro level annually to ensure
    the compensation of women and men begins — and advances — fairly.
  • Leadership-led adjustments. If the PAR identifies an unfair pay
    gap emerging, the leadership team – with support straight from the
    C-suite – will proactively work to adjust employee pay through
    existing merit-based review cycles and practices.
  • Counteracting unconscious bias. All employees, with an emphasis
    on managers, will complete unconscious bias training to help control
    for factors that have been shown in academic research to impact
    advancement and compensation of women and other minority candidates.
    The goal is to foster a culture where all employees are aware of bias
    and actively seek to reduce it.

This pay equity project announcement comes just one month after the firm
celebrated the first
anniversary of its women’s executive network
, H+K HER (Helping
Executives Rise), and 18 months after the firm rolled out H+K
Inside and H+K Outside
, a suite of policies and programs to support
employees in their personal and professional development. One
particularly notable element of H+K Outside is an industry-leading
parental leave policy that gives 16 fully paid weeks of leave for birth
moms and 10 for all parents — moms, dads, partners and adoptive parents
— with none of it coming from sick leave or vacation time.

The progressive nature of the firm’s Inside, Outside and women’s
programs have raised the profile of H+K U.S. as an employer over the
past year, leading to the firm earning the prestigious WorldatWork Work-Life
Seal of Distinction
, a North American Excellence
for employer branding and recruiting, and the Holmes Report’s In2
SABRE for Most Innovative Agency Initiative
, and to H+K being named
among the Top
Places to Work in PR
and the Organizations
of the Year for Diversity in PR
by PR News.

About Hill+Knowlton Strategies

Hill+Knowlton Strategies, Inc. is a leading international communications
consultancy, providing services to local, multinational and global
clients. The firm is headquartered in New York, with more than 80
offices in 50 countries, as well as an extensive associate network. The
agency is part of WPP, the world’s largest communications services
group. Learn more at http://www.hkstrategies.com.


Hill+Knowlton Strategies
Rebecca Ballard, 202-354-8271