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by Kevin Iwamoto | September 26, 2018

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M&C recently released its 2018 salary survey, and while there was a lot of good news in the numbers, there still was data that indicates significant gender bias in pay.

The survey, updated biennially, was released earlier this month. Findings included:

• Average salaries for planners have increased by a healthy 8 percent since 2016, to $81,148.
• Corporate planners largely drove the increase, reporting an 18 percent jump in pay, from $79,231 in 2016 to $93,719 this year.
• Association planners have seen a modest 2 percent rise in pay, from $73,187 in 2016 to $74,622 in 2018.
• The gender gap is still wide but has narrowed somewhat: Female meeting professionals earn 89 cents on the male dollar this year, up from 75 cents in 2016.

When it comes to the value of Certified Meetings Professional and Certificate in Meeting Management designations:
• Corporate planners with a CMP credential earned an average 13,729 more per year than those without it. For association planners, the difference came to $4,450.
• Corporate planners with a CMM designation earned an average $38,856 more per year than those without it. For association planners, the difference came to $12,213.

In polling planners about their salary history, M&C found that corporate planners showed an average increase of $14,488 over 2016, while for association planners, the figure was just $1,435.

Earlier this year, PCMA released findings from its own salary survey, an annual report. Among the findings:

The ranking for average salaries based on current roles are:
1. Association executive: $109,083
2. Independent meeting professional: $85,851
3. Medical meeting professional: $85,385
4. Association meeting professional: $83,543
5. Corporate meeting professional: $83,531
6. Nonprofit/education meeting professional: $67,000
7. Government meeting professional: $63,889

Respondents have a wealth of experience:
• The average respondent is 44 years old with 10 years of experience.
• 60 percent are age 40 and older.
• 65 percent have more than 10 years of meetings management experience.

While much of the above data represents positive news, some statistics indicate we still have more work to do: Based on both surveys, women comprise a disproportionate majority in the meeting and events industry, yet men on average earn substantially more than women in similar roles. While such findings echo those for most other industries, it makes you wonder why the female majority and suppliers who are part of our meetings and events industry don't push to standardize pay equality among the sexes.

For future salary surveys, my personal wish list includes these questions:
• What average salary did men in each of these job classifications (vice president, director and manager) receive vs. women?
• What is the ethnic breakdown in the various survey categories?

The other data points that made me go "hmmm" are the age ranges and experience in our industry:
• M&C found the average age of male planners is 54 and women 47. PCMA's data results show that a large percentage of respondents, more than 60 percent, are 40 years of age or older. What and how will that impact our future meeting and events professional landscape?
• How proactive are we in mentoring and scouting for future leaders and talent?
• How can we work together to equalize the playing field for pay and executive equality and diversity?

These are tough questions we must ask ourselves; then, we must create strategies and plans to address the above and more.

Annual salary surveys like M&C's and PCMA's are extremely valuable and insightful, but if we don't start to use the data to create and initiate future strategies for our industry, we are doomed to continue to repeat the inequalities of the present.

Kevin Iwamoto is senior consultant at GoldSpring Consulting. You can follow him on Twitter @KevinIwamoto or visit his Amazon Author Page