Fair Pay in Creative Industry: 5 Actionable Steps
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 7 min read


  1. Recognize the value of creative professionals
  2. Conduct market research to establish pay rates
  3. Implement transparent pay practices
  4. Promote equal pay for equal work
  5. Engage in continuous monitoring and adjustment

Advocating for fair pay and equitable treatment in the creative industry is more than just a noble cause—it's a positive game-changer. Imagine a world where the value of creativity is not just recognized but rewarded appropriately. This blog post aims to provide you with five actionable steps to help make this vision a reality. Let's dive in, shall we?

Recognize the Value of Creative Professionals

First and foremost, we need to shift our mindset. Creative professionals are not just 'artsy folks' who draw pretty pictures or write catchy tunes. They are thinkers, innovators, and problem solvers. Let's look at why recognizing their value is the first step towards advocating for fair pay and equitable treatment in the creative industry.

The Economic Impact of Creativity

  • Job creation: Creative professionals generate jobs not only for themselves but also in related industries. For instance, a movie production involves writers, directors, actors, but also caterers, transport providers, and construction workers.
  • Innovation: Creatives often pioneer new ideas, tools, and technologies. Ever heard of Pixar's RenderMan? It's a software developed by creative tech geeks that has revolutionized the way we make movies.
  • Growth: Creative sectors contribute significantly to the economy. In the UK, for example, the creative industries were growing at twice the rate of the overall economy pre-COVID.

The Societal Value of Creativity

But it's not all about the money. Creative professionals also enrich our society in ways that are harder to measure but just as important. Let's take a look:

  1. Inspiration: From Banksy's street art to Adele's heart-wrenching songs, creative work inspires us, challenges us, and helps us see the world from different perspectives.
  2. Culture and identity: Creative expressions help build a sense of community and identity. Think of the role of hip-hop in African-American culture, or Bollywood in Indian diaspora communities all over the world.
  3. Education: Creative professionals play a key role in education, from children's book authors and illustrators to educational game developers.

Recognizing the value of creative professionals is the first step towards fair pay in the creative industry. If we want to advocate for change, we need to start by acknowledging the economic and societal impact of their work. So next time someone dismisses creatives as 'just artists', remind them of these points. You might just change a mind or two.

Conduct Market Research to Establish Pay Rates

Now that we have recognized the value of creative professionals, it's time to get down to the nitty-gritty: money. How do we ensure fair pay in the creative industry? A good starting point is conducting thorough market research to establish pay rates. Let's see how that works.

Understanding Market Rates

Market rates refer to the typical pay for a specific role within an industry. Understanding these rates is key in advocating for fair pay in the creative industry. So, how do you find out what these rates are?

  1. Surveys and reports: Look for industry surveys or reports that provide average salaries or hourly rates. For example, the Graphic Artists Guild publishes a Handbook: Pricing & Ethical Guidelines, which is a valuable resource.
  2. Job postings: Many job postings include salary ranges. These can give you a sense of what employers are currently willing to pay for certain roles.
  3. Networking: Talk to people in the industry. Attend industry events, join online forums, or engage in LinkedIn groups. People often share information about pay, especially in a safe and supportive environment.

Setting Pay Rates

Once you understand the market rates, you can use this information to set fair pay rates. Here's how:

  • Compare and contrast: Look at the pay rates across different businesses and roles. Where does your role or your employee's role fit in? What is the average pay? What is the highest? What is the lowest?
  • Consider the specifics: Each creative role is unique. A web designer's skills and responsibilities are different from those of a copywriter. When setting pay rates, consider the specific skills, experience, and responsibilities of each role.
  • Adjust for location: Pay rates often vary by location. $50,000 might be a good salary in a small town, but barely enough to survive in a big city. Use cost of living calculators or resources like Numbeo to adjust pay rates accordingly.

Conducting market research to establish pay rates is a crucial step in advocating for fair pay and equitable treatment in the creative industry. It's not just about paying more; it's about paying what's fair. And to know what's fair, you need to know what's out there.

Implement Transparent Pay Practices

With a solid understanding of market rates, the next step towards advocating for fair pay and equitable treatment in the creative industry is to implement transparent pay practices. What does this mean, and how can you make it happen? Let's dive in.

What is Pay Transparency?

Pay transparency means being open about how pay rates are set and what everyone in the organization earns. This isn’t about publishing everyone's paycheck on the company website. It’s about being clear and open about how you determine pay, so everyone knows they’re being treated fairly. But why is it important?

  • Trust: When employees know how their pay is calculated, they are more likely to trust their employer. Trust leads to better relationships and improved morale.
  • Equity: Pay transparency can help ensure fair treatment. If everyone knows what everyone else earns, it's harder for pay discrimination to go unnoticed.
  • Attraction and Retention: Transparency can make your organization more appealing to potential employees, and it can help keep the talent you already have.

How to Implement Pay Transparency

So, how can you make your pay practices more transparent? Here are a few steps:

  1. Clear Pay Structure: Develop a clear pay structure. This could be a set of salary ranges for different roles, a minimum wage policy, or a formula based on experience and skills.
  2. Communicate: Communicate this structure to all employees. Explain how you came up with it and how it will work in practice.
  3. Open Dialogue: Encourage questions and discussions about pay. Make it clear that it's okay to talk about salaries and to ask about pay decisions.

By implementing transparent pay practices, you're not just doing the right thing—you're also creating a better, more attractive workplace. And that's a big step towards advocating for fair pay and equitable treatment in the creative industry.

Promote Equal Pay for Equal Work

Let's talk about another key aspect of advocating for fair pay and equitable treatment in the creative industry: promoting equal pay for equal work. It sounds simple—everyone doing the same job should get the same pay, right? But it's not always that straightforward. Let's break it down.

Understanding Equal Pay

Equal pay means that people who do the same job should receive the same pay. It's not about everyone getting the same salary regardless of their role or performance. It's about fairness, about making sure no one is paid less because of their gender, race, age, or any other irrelevant factor.

  • Legal Requirement: In many countries, equal pay is a legal requirement. Breaking this law can result in fines and damage to your reputation.
  • Morale and Engagement: Paying employees fairly for the work they do boosts their morale and engagement. They feel valued and are more likely to stay with the company and perform well.
  • Brand Image: Fair pay practices can enhance your brand image, attracting top talent and business partners who share your commitment to equality.

Steps to Promote Equal Pay

How can you ensure equal pay for equal work in your organization? Here are some steps to consider:

  1. Audit Your Pay Practices: Start by examining your current pay practices. Are there any unexplained differences in pay for people doing the same job? If so, you need to find out why and fix it.
  2. Establish Clear Pay Structures: As we discussed in the last section, a clear and transparent pay structure can help ensure equal pay.
  3. Train Managers: Make sure those responsible for setting pay understand the importance of equal pay and know how to avoid unconscious bias.
  4. Regular Reviews: Regularly review your pay practices to ensure they remain fair and equitable.

Promoting equal pay for equal work is not just about complying with the law—it's an important part of creating a fair and respectful workplace, and it's a key aspect of advocating for fair pay and equitable treatment in the creative industry.

Engage in Continuous Monitoring and Adjustment

Ensuring fair pay doesn't stop at setting up the right policies and practices. The real secret is to keep a close eye on things—continuous monitoring and adjustment. But what exactly does this mean? Let's walk through it together.

Why Monitor and Adjust?

Well, the creative industry is dynamic. New roles emerge, old ones evolve, market rates fluctuate. Therefore, your pay practices should also be dynamic. They should reflect these changes to remain fair and competitive. And there's more:

  • Prevent Pay Gaps: Regular monitoring can help spot and rectify pay gaps before they become a big issue.
  • Stay Competitive: Adjusting your pay rates in line with market trends helps you attract and retain the best creative talent.
  • Ensure Compliance: Laws and regulations around pay can change. Regularly reviewing your practices helps ensure you stay on the right side of the law.

How to Monitor and Adjust

So, you're on board with monitoring and adjustment. Great! But how do you do it? Here are some pointers:

  1. Regular Pay Audits: Conduct regular pay audits to check for discrepancies and ensure your pay practices are still fair and equitable.
  2. Market Research: Keep an eye on market trends and adjust your pay rates as necessary. Remember, it's not a one-time task. The market rates you researched last year may not be relevant today.
  3. Feedback: Listen to your employees. They can provide valuable insights into how fair they perceive their pay to be.

Engaging in continuous monitoring and adjustment is vital for advocating for fair pay and equitable treatment in the creative industry. It's a commitment to fairness and transparency that goes beyond the paycheck—it's about respect, value, and ongoing care for the people who make your organization what it is.

If you're looking to further explore fair pay in the creative industry, be sure to check out the workshop 'Making Money as a Multidisciplinary Creative' by Clara Escoms. This workshop will provide you with additional knowledge and actionable steps on how to ensure fair pay for you and your fellow creatives in a competitive industry.