These Are Good Times for Health Care Marketers: Addressing Gender Inequity Is Overdue

By The SHSMD Team posted 01-29-2020 15:39

Medical Marketing & Media’s 33rd Annual Survey Report indicates that the average salary for health marketers (director level and up) has jumped 12 percent. That’s huge.

In the last decade, health care is the only U.S. employment sector to have added employees in every month. In that time, pharmaceuticals and health tech have globalized and driven expanded health care, too.

MM&M’s Heath Marketer’s Average Salary
2016: $139,000
2017: $157,000
2018: $164,000
2019: $185,000

The latest average salary is just the start, as nearly 70 percent earned a bonus, which on average was $37,359. And, over half of the respondents rated their opportunity for promotion as excellent or good. The directional increase in pay over the last four years in good news for health care marketers.

But persistent, and potentially worsening pay gender gap is evident too. Of the women responding to the survey, nearly 60 percent reported they do not believe they are paid comparably to male counterparts. The report’s findings suggest this perception is likely absolutely right.

While 12 percent salary growth is impressive, that salary growth was segmented overwhelmingly to male respondents. Likewise, fewer women received bonuses (64 percent of women vs. 72 percent of men), with bonus and commission revenue to women being near one half that seen by men.

Some will point out that there are subtleties to such parity calculations. These could include social factors that link financial success to male identity in ways that make them more likely to negotiate and value pay over other factors. And inequity today certainly reflects a legacy of non-equitable treatment from the past. All would be fair to discuss, but none explain away the headline of a growing gender pay gap.

Let’s be real, if we fail to address pay inequity when all boats are rising, what is the likelihood that organizations will take this on during a downturn?

Today we see health care brands embracing Inclusion and diversity as core values. The latest Hospital Digital Index Report featured a finding that leading hospital brands have quadrupled the number of African Americans and doubled the number of women portrayed in their websites’ “hero images.” One health system’s chief diversity officer told me hospitals are signaling the kinds of organizations they aspire to become through this change.

Pay Equity is a Platform for Change.

It is unfortunate that it takes a survey to learn that half of the women in health care marketing believe they’re paid unfairly. Our industry prides itself on fostering the kind of trust that is the basis for care. Before brands project this value to the marketplace, they should do a reality check to be sure they’re that’s true in their workplace.

Pay equity isn’t a signal of what we want our organizations to become; it’s the fact of what they in fact value right now. We’re past due on enforcing fairness and providing the kind of transparency that the best brands in healthcare aspire to.

It’s time to mind this brand gap, and the unfairness it represents. Delay compounds the personal damage this causes, and fixing it starts with making it a public priority.

Dave Wieneke
Healthcare Practice Director, Connective DX.
He teaches health care marketing and digital transformation at the Rutgers Business School.

Citation: This article cites findings from the 2019 MM&M Career and Salary Survey, published October 2019.