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, April 11, 2016 — 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 scrutiny.”

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 said.

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

  • 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 Award 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.

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Rebecca Ballard



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