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Aquent’s 2023 Salary Guide reveals stagnant wages and narrowing gender pay gap

Marketing, creative and design industry wage data signals growing need for pay transparency.

Boston, MA – January 17, 2023– Aquent, a work solutions company, has released its 2023 Salary Guide for marketing, creative, and design talent. The 2023 Salary Guide reveals that despite inflation peaking at 9.1% in 2022, salaries across these positions increased by just 1.1%, and gender and ethnicity wage disparities are still prevalent. The Guide also explores how marketing, creative, and design roles are expanding to meet metaverse needs. 

“Aquent's 2023 Salary Guide provides an essential perspective on salary trends for marketing, creative, and design talent and employers. Our data, based on more than 19,000 actual salaries,  illuminates the challenges faced by our industry this past year, including lackluster wage growth and persistent disparities for women and ethnically diverse talent,” said John H. Chuang, Founder and CEO of Aquent. “As companies in our industry look to the future – with economic uncertainty ahead and gender and racial wage disparities still at play – there is still much work to be done.”

High Inflation, Stagnant Wages:

Despite inflation hovering around 7% following a peak of 9.1% in June 2022, year-over-year wages only increased by 1.1%. This data suggests that many companies tightened their belts in 2022 and are likely bracing for an economic slowdown in 2023. Many roles saw nominal wage increases and some creative roles saw salaries rise significantly this year, including:

  • SEO Managers (14.47%)
  • Data Analysts (9.33%)
  • Product Designers (7.14%)

“As we see layoffs across the labor market and more workers applying for jobs, pay transparency is vital to achieving pay equity,” said Rohshann Philla, President of Aquent Talent. “Simply put, pay transparency is the right thing to do. Pay transparency is also appealing to job-seekers, who are 84% more likely to apply for a job that lists a pay range in the job posting. Aquent's Salary Guide helps hold our industry accountable.”

Gender Pay Gap Improving:

Women across the workforce still face pay disparities. However, the 2023 Guide reveals that the gender wage gap has improved. In 2021, men were overall paid 16% more than women in the same job. In 2022, that gap shrunk to 2.7%. While there is more work to be done, this past year brought more pay equality for female workers. Below is an overview of the gender pay gap data: 

  • Men made more than their female counterparts in 12 out of the 15 jobs surveyed, with the largest gaps existing for female UI Designers (-15.79%), female UX Researchers (-14.63%) and female Presentation Designers (-8.33%). 
  • Men earned less than women as Digital Marketing Managers (-19.38%) and SEO Managers (-14.47%)

Race/Ethnicity Pay Gap Still a Problem:

A company's focus on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) is important to job seekers. Studies have shown that many consider it when looking for a job, and some even leave their current company in search of a more inclusive one. Even with a renewed emphasis on DEI initiatives, race and ethnicity pay gaps persist: 

  • Across positions, ethnically diverse talent earned 2.25% less than white employees in 2022. 
  • The biggest pay disparities for ethnically diverse talent was for UX Researchers (-12.17%), Product Designers (-7.4%) and Digital Marketing Specialists (-6.02%)
  • For many Creative, Design, and Copy roles, including Art Directors, Graphic Designers, Presentation Designers, and Copywriters, there was no difference in pay between ethnically diverse and white employees. 

“It should be a priority of every company to address racial and ethnic wage disparities in the workplace,” said Catherine Tapia, DEI Council Executive Sponsor at Aquent. “Employees want to see more diversity and equity in the workplace, and companies must rise to meet that demand.” 

In order to help businesses in their workplace diversity, Aquent's Diversity+ toolkit provides businesses with diversity recruiting expertise, customized goal-setting, access to diverse talent communities, and robust reporting and insights. 

New Jobs in the Metaverse:

For the first time, the Salary Guide introduced emerging roles brought on by the metaverse. Today's Graphic Designers and Social Media Managers have the opportunity to be Concept Artists and Community Managers in the metaverse. The data shows that upskilling for these emerging metaverse roles can be quite lucrative, with Concept Artists earning $100,000 and Community Managers earning $120,000.

Aquent's 2023 Salary Guide is available here

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