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Does Licensing Have a Diversity Problem?

By: Karina Masolova;

Last week, TLL reported on 2017 compensation trends based on results from the 2018 Salary Survey. The average salary was $112,000 worldwide, plus a $60,000 bonus (67% of respondents reported that they expect to receive a bonus in the next 12 months).

It turns out that the licensing business is filled with mostly old (35% of respondents are 45–53 years-old), white (over 90%), ladies (55%). And the Survey also reveals something else—there may be costs associated with being non-white and non-male for licensing executives that have nothing to do with years of experience, hours worked, or job title.

More detailed results will be published in this year’s TLL’s Compensation Report, on sale at Licensing Expo Las Vegas in print and digital PDF format. Contact Jen for more information.

The 2018 report includes breakdowns for the U.S. and EU as well as new demographic data such as age range and race/ethnicity as well as more detailed responses about employees (full- vs. part-time), hours worked (normal vs. busy periods), and about change in salary brought about by a new job (in addition changes in title).

To view the full list of 34 questions (estimated 15 minutes completion time)—and to fill out your own response to TLL’s Salary Survey, if you have not already—click here. Later in the year, I will follow up with another, fuller analysis informed by any new responses. (If that’s not possible, I will include them in the 2019 Salary Survey results.) Are there any questions you think are unclear, or any new questions you would like to ask your peers? Please let me know!

To start, TLL’s Salary Survey is my favorite survey to run and crunch. As in previous years, respondents could skip any question they wished—technically, you can submit the Survey without filling anything in. All in all, over 98% of solicited questions were answered with most respondents answering every single question.

This year I worked on clarifying the answer keys, allowing for multiple selection tick boxes, and providing more open-ended answer choices to allow respondents to expand upon their answers, e.g. the gender question had an “other” option. Since no one put “potato,” I’ll count that as a win.

First, I didn’t expect to get so many respondents outside of the U.S. (mostly Europeans) answering this year’s Survey. Last year, there were too few responses to make any kind of statistically significant conclusions about salary, bonus, and demographic data outside of the U.S. This year, I had enough responses from outside the U.S. to generate breakdowns for EU-based executives—a first in TLL history.

This year, I also added looser categories for executive titles to better understand differences in salary, bonus, and demographic data: executive-level (VP and up), mid-level (director, manager, etc.), and lower-level (assistant, coordinator, etc.).

I’d like to thank the international respondents for humoring me with the “diversity” questions—after all, America has a unique emphasis on racial (versus cultural, economic, or gender) diversity. The race/ethnicity question was written with an incredibly American slant: I used the U.S. Census’ racial categories. Surprisingly, just one respondent declined to answer (you know who you are). Respondents were allowed to check more than one option, including an “other” field, and a significant minority did so.

Diversity is an odd thing to focus on when it comes to licensing executives, because the nature of the business is so inter-sectional across many different industries and businesses—you can find leaders everywhere, from toy manufacturers, to fabric designers, to agents representing celebrities. And thanks to the number and variety of respondents to this year’s Salary Survey, that means most of these are represented. At least some of them have to be diverse, right? It’s not like licensing executives are all lawyers!

But, apparently, this business is less diverse than that field.

Worldwide, 90% of respondent licensing executives are white, 8% Hispanic/Latinx, 3% Asian, and 2% some other race/ethnicity (multiple responses allowed). In the U.S. and EU, the percentage of whites jumps up to 92% and 95%, respectively. The 5% of non-white, non-Hispanic/Latinx executives turned out to be internationally-based respondents.

The biggest differentiator in this year’s batch of results was the amount of bonus received. Last year, I wrote that “all is well for gender parity in licensing”. This year, I can’t really say that.

Roughly the same amount of men versus women (67% and 66%, respectively) expect to receive a bonus. But the difference in average bonus received in 2017 was staggering in the U.S.—men expect to receive $145,000 more in bonus than their female counterparts. Large variances in the upper-most executive positions are to be expected, however: The CEO of a one-man shop may draw a smaller salary than a VP at a multi-national company with hundred of licensing-focused employees. Vast differences in compensation, even for the same title, may simply be a result of respondent makeup.

But even comparing mid-level employees, women made $3,000 less in base salary and almost $13,000 less in bonus—despite the fact that, as a group, women are more experienced. The same kind of disparity can be seen when comparing white and Hispanic/Latinx respondents, none of whom have an executive-level position. But even comparing mid-level employees, although Hispanic/Latinx executives took home more in base salary (again, probably because they are more experienced as a group), they still lost out on bonus payments.

Is this year’s Survey truly reflective of the state of the licensing industry? I’d like to find out. Sound off confidentially in Round 2 of the 2018 Survey (click here) or let me know by email.


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