The culture of secrecy that surrounds the British workplace has made it extremely difficult for marketers to establish whether their salaries are in line with the industry.
While many spend more of their waking hours with their colleagues than with their family - 26% of marketing professionals at director level work more than 50 hours a week - the chances are they have little clue how much their peers earn.
With this in mind, Marketing is revealing the full results of the Chartered Institute of Marketing's latest Marketing Rewards salary survey. While the survey throws up some concerning data regarding the widening gender pay gap (see Mind The Gap, below), it also reveals that salary increases for marketing professionals averaged just 2.5% in the 12 months to June 2011. The overall forecast for pay increases over the next 12 months is little better, at 3%.
The average basic salary of a marketing director is £72,100, up 0.8% from last year.
In real terms, marketers' salaries are in decline. The inflation rate in the UK reached 4.5% in August. Economists expect this trend to continue - leaving salary increases to lag behind the rising cost of living.
The report also shows that 34% of marketing directors received a bonus, compared with 41% the previous year, and the average bonus amount has dropped to 15% of salary (£11,310) compared with 20% of salary (£14,500) in the year to June 2010.
The survey shows that the majority of marketers feel their pay is in line with, or above, the market - slightly more than last year, despite 26% enduring a pay freeze.
This comes amid continued concerns over the strength of the economic recovery where, for some at least, a marketer's 'bonus' is that they still have a job. Almost one in seven rates their job security with their current employer as 'poor' or 'bad'.
So is the industry at risk of a brain drain, as talented marketers tire of sustained pay freezes and jump ship for better-paid roles in other sectors?
Ray Jones, head of marketing and communications at the CIM research division, says that while 'UK plc' is not facing an exodus of staff, corporations need to recognise the skills of marketers. 'These issues must be faced up to by companies, which need to recognise that when cuts were made, the staff left behind had to do more,' he adds.
There is some good news for public-sector marketers in the research; their salaries have not yet been hit by coalition cutbacks. These marketers leapfrogged those in the private sector, with senior managers picking up an annual salary of £45,814, compared with the private sector's £43,000.
According to the Annual Survey for Hours and Earnings (ASHE), carried out by the Office for National Statistics, 553,000 people are now employed in the marketing profession. This has grown from 459,000 in 2007.
So with 94,000 marketing jobs created since 2007, the big question is whether brands can afford not to reward their marketing talent.
MIND THE GAP - The difference between male and female salaries is widening
The survey delivered bad news for female marketers, highlighting that the gender pay gap for marketing directors is now 16.3%. This is significantly wider than in 2005, when female chief marketing officers were paid 2.8% less than their male counterparts.
The findings are in line with data from the Equal Opportunities Commission, which calculated that, over the course of her working life, a woman who works full-time would, on average, earn a staggering £330,000 less than a man in full-time employment.
Here, four senior female marketers give their views on the figures.
1. MICHELLE MCETTRICK, CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER, BARCLAYS RETAIL
The trend since 2005 is very concerning, especially as we see the rise of incredibly talented female executives in senior marketing positions across the UK.
If businesses want to continue to end up with the quality of marketers we have today, the time to invest is now, to ensure that they aren't limiting their choices to the 49% of the market that happens to be men.
2. ALISON BROLLS, GLOBAL HEAD OF MARKETING PLANNING, NOKIA
The marketing industry is still able to attract the best talent at all levels. The salaries on offer are generally not a barrier. There is a disparity, however, depending on what sector you are looking at. It is a fact that marketing in financial services, for example, tends to pay above average. At the other end of the scale, charities and the emerging sectors, such as higher education salaries, tend to pay below average.
It is not my perception that female marketing directors are paid less. In my experience it has been the other way round. If the statistics in the survey are correct, then this could be for a number of reasons, including career breaks counting against notching up experience, or longer tenancy in the role than male counterparts.
3. SARAH WARBY, FORMER MARKETING DIRECTOR OF HEINEKEN UK
The gender pay gap is a perennial and emotive subject. If two people are doing similar jobs, with similar responsibilities and deliverables, they should be on similar pay, irrespective of their gender, colour, creed, age, height or preferred football team. I say similar, because at director level, the comparisons are less obvious.
At headline level the figures from the CIM research don't make pretty reading, but one or two numbers can't be relied upon to tell the whole story. The optimist in me reads this as a signal that the early cohort of women in marketing director roles are taking control, finding flexible working arrangements, taking career breaks, opting for roles that suit their family lives, taking longer maternity leave, and so on.
The pessimist in me is surprised and worried to read that we seem to be going backwards. I like to think of marketing as a progressive industry, one in which common sense usually prevails. Equality in the workplace is one of those issues that just requires a bit of common sense. The benefits of true meritocracy, in which women thrive at all levels, are obvious.
4. BECKI ROWE, GENERAL MANAGER, MARKETING, ANN SUMMERS
As a business established by and for women, we are very proud of the several highly successful women - and men - that we have working for the company. However, we all know that the gender pay gap divide exists and, worryingly, these figures show it is a growing trend.
It looks like the glass ceiling is still very much in existence. I worry that women may feel they need to adapt their work personalities to portray themselves in a more masculine manner in order to help them get ahead in the workplace.
When our chief executive, Jacqueline Gold, took on the business more than 30 years ago, she had hoped to see this divide eradicated, so it is a shame the industry seems to be going backwards.