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30% of India's corporate communication professionals underpaid, Indian Communicators Group (ICG) Salary Survey Report

The Indian Communications Group (ICG) announced the release of its 2024 Salary Survey Report, in the quest for standardised benchmarks within the communications industry. 

Led by the collaborative efforts of industry professionals Shashank Bharadwaj, Nanda Padmanabhan and Tinu Cherian, the survey was conducted as a community-driven initiative.

Speaking about the survey exercise, Shashank Bharadwaj, a communications professional and founder of CommsJobs.in, said “Corporate communications is a strategic business unit and plays a vital role in driving organisational success. As corporate communicators, our role transcends mere dissemination of information - From managing media relations to crafting content, nurturing stakeholder relationships to safeguarding reputation, our skill set encompasses a diverse array of responsibilities."

"This survey is an attempt to shed light on compensation trends and career progression opportunities within the industry, empowering professionals to navigate their paths with clarity and confidence.”

Speaking on the survey highlights, Nanda Padmanabhan, head - corporate communications, at BankBazaar.com, said “The time women begin to demand pay parity is also the time their numbers in the workforce begin to dwindle. 

"While there are several social pressures also at play here, we cannot afford to disregard the obvious lack of parity in pay at lower experience levels as one of the factors fewer women stick around long enough to rise to the top.”

“Despite the fact that corporate communications has been a rapidly expanding field in India for a number of decades, the lack of industry benchmarks and the stark differences in pay for these specialists have been painful and frustrating. It is our aim that the study's findings will empower in-house PR and communications professionals to make more informed decisions about their career paths and to voice for the recognition and fair compensation they so well deserve,” said Tinu Cherian Abraham, ICG Admin, and director and head – Global PR & Media Relations, UST.

Some highlights from the survey include:

  • Recognition of Corporate Communications: The survey emphasises the importance of recognising the value of corporate communications within organisations, underlining its pivotal role in reputation management and strategic decision-making.
  • Salary Outlook: More than 45% of the salaries fell between Rs.22.5L and Rs.62.5L. However, the starting salaries for in-house Comms roles for freshers is typically around Rs.5.3L-5.8L, though data shows that it can be as low as Rs.3.5L
  • Salary Increase Trends: The survey reveals that median in-house salaries increase with experience, with an average factor of roughly Rs. 2.3L for every year of experience. Approximately 45% of respondents fall within a range of typically anywhere between 1.55L and 3.1L per year of experience, however, nearly one out of three ICGians (30%) fall below this bracket and can be considered underpaid.
  • Women's Role in Communications: The percentage of women in Communications increases from 69% among the freshers to peak at 71% at 8-10 years’ experience and eventually dips to 42% women with experience of 25 years or more. Women continue to be the drivers of culture and flexibility at the workplace rather disproportionately
  • Diversification of Expertise: Communication professionals are looking to expand their expertise beyond traditional areas, such as public policy, advocacy, and ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance), reflecting a growing need for diversified skill sets within the industry.
  • Disparities Between Agencies and In-house Roles: There is a clear perception among respondents that agency salaries lag significantly behind in-house salaries for similar roles, emphasising the need for agencies to enhance their compensation structures.
  • Transition Period: Respondents typically work for an average of 4.78 years in other communications roles before transitioning to in-house positions, indicating a common career trajectory within the industry.
  • Emphasis on Upskilling: The survey underscores the importance of upskilling in areas such as designing, video editing, and social media management, as these skills are expected to play an increasingly significant role in communications. Additionally, respondents recognise the importance of leveraging advancements in AI, data analytics, and digital transformation.

These findings highlight the need for addressing salary disparities, providing more opportunities for mid-level professionals, reassessing compensation structures, emphasising continuous learning, recognising the value of corporate communications, and fostering collaboration and support within the industry.

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