Creative ad agency salaries laid bare in public spreadsheet

People are anonymously listing how much they make in a Google Doc open to everyone.

Agency staff from around the world are revealing their salaries in a public spreadsheet

The anonymous document, named "Real Agency Salaries," breaks down pay, department, title, gender, race, sexual orientation, years of experience, location and whether you work in-house or externally.

In a description, the spreadsheet author explains: "Talking about how much or how little money you make feels taboo, and it shouldn't. Knowledge is power and Glassdoor info is hit or miss. 

"Wouldn't it be great to know what your peers make so you can use that to leverage a raise? Or if your company does a market adjustment yet you don't see the data, wouldn't it be great to know how accurate it is or isn't? So, let's share what we make and any relevant info to help each other learn our worth."

The spreadsheet tells us everything and nothing about adland’s pay landscape. 

Salaries fluctuate wildly depending on the factors outlined above, as well as agency size, with geography as one of the chief dictators. For example, a senior copywriter role in Kansas City is listed as around $80,000, while the same role in Los Angeles hits $250,000. Meanwhile, two junior copywriter positions at agencies in London have a £10,000 disparity, with one white gay man listing his salary as £25,000 and a white heterosexual woman making £35,000. 

One problem that will hinder and continually undermine the process is that there is no way to officially verify the data's authenticity.

Marla Kaplowitz, president and CEO at 4A’s, told Campaign US: "Pay equity is an important issue to address with companies working to ensure that all employees are treated equitably. While companies used to encourage ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ regarding salaries, more and more employees are advocating for transparency to understand compensation as well as career pathing. 

"While differences will always exist based on geography, there’s an opportunity for companies to embrace a more transparent approach to ensure equity for all employees. It’s incumbent on leaders to clearly articulate objective goals and metrics to align pay with performance."

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