The Chicago and Pacific Northwest chapters of Women in Lighting Design (WILD) hosted a panel to discuss trends in salary data in the lighting design industry, as well as how those trends differ between male and female lighting professionals. The panel included: Andrew Offenbacher, VP of Engineering and Sales at Focal Point; Monica Anderson, Principal at Mazzetti Engineering; Lee Brandt, Principal at HLB Lighting; and Brooke Ziolo, President and Owner of Egret Consulting.
In preparation for the event, WILD conducted an open survey on current salary levels based on job, gender, and location. Before the panel began, Ms. Ziolo broke down the data collected from over 800 respondents. She also drew upon her many years of experience recruiting for all areas of the lighting industry to share some general trends. First, she shared that the industry is still a male dominated industry, and more than that, on average, when a man switches jobs in the lighting industry he will receive over a 5% increase in salary, while, almost inexplicably, a woman will, on average, experience a salary decrease.
This fact set the tone for many of the questions the panel served to answer, with the overall goal to throw back the curtains on salary levels and salary negotiation, and to empower women to know how much they should be earning and how to ask for it.
The data from the survey helped uncover three overarching trends that Ziolo laid out: women are more likely to be recruited into a lower salaries position than men; women are less likely to negotiate a higher salary than men; and finally, while it is still a male dominated industry, there are increasing numbers of women in lighting design.
The solution that Ziolo prescribed for the first two issues is greater transparency in salary processes, which is exactly what the panel was determined to discuss.
The group touched on many topics, including how covid-19 and resulting work from home practices have affected salary level. They also examined the hiring process and what they often look for most in a new hire, the practice of salary reviews and whether or not their firms participate in them. Across the board, the advice centered around preparation and the ability to show the value that you bring to a company.
Overall, the panel was incredibly productive in shedding light on the lack of knowledge, and often, anxiety that surrounds salary discussions, and the discrepancies in earning levels between men and women in the lighting industry.
Updated 7/28/21: the conversation in its entirety is now available on video.