In 2015, the privacy pendulum clearly started swinging towards “serious consideration.” Where once “privacy” was mostly a synonym for “pet activist project” at many companies, things like $100 million settlement agreements with the Federal Trade Commission tend to get people’s attention.
Not only that, though: research has shown that consumers are starting to vote on privacy with their wallets. According to the Pew Research Center, 64 percent of consumers think the government should do more to regulate advertisers in response to the preponderance of targeted ads, 61 percent of people want to do more to protect their privacy and a full 91 percent of Americans feel they’ve “lost control over how personal information is collected and used by companies.”
Clearly, that’s bad for business. It may sound clichéd, but I’d like to hear someone explain why establishing a trusted relationship with your customers isn’t important to generating revenue and turning a profit. Do you want customers to be hesitant in visiting your website and purchasing your services? Or would you rather they not think twice about it?
Most of you probably don’t run your own businesses. Not everyone is a CEO. You may be thinking, “Okay, great, but it’s not like I make decisions on how we collect data in this company.”
Here’s a newsflash: you could be.
Companies and organizations all over the globe are increasingly hiring privacy professionals to help them make the tough decisions – about what information to collect, when and how to store and delete it, which databases to combine and what big data to mine.
That person could be you. And here’s another piece of news: your decision to get into the privacy profession could be a lucrative one.
Our most recent data here at the International Association of Privacy Professionals, collected in the spring of 2015, shows a profession that’s growing in numbers, is well compensated and is increasingly valued within organizations.
Membership in our organization has grown from fewer than 1,000 privacy professionals in 2003 to, now, 24,000 members as we enter 2016. Further, the mean salary for our membership has grown from $101,146, in 2003 to $152,136, in the spring of 2015.
Not bad if you can get it. Of course, the profession does have a lot of lawyers who tend to be well compensated, whether at law firms or as corporate counsel. However, they make up just 40 percent of our membership, and that percentage is growing less and less each year as more operations- and engineering-focused professionals enter the ranks.
Further, we’ve found that the privacy profession is balanced in terms of gender, with an almost 50-50 split both here in the United States and globally. There still remains a small pay disparity of about $5k, but we hope to see that disappear. We do know that there are more female chief privacy officers than male chief privacy officers.
However, it’s not just the money that has people flocking to the profession, or the fact that data protection has been dominating news headlines as of late. Best of all may be that it’s simply a career with job growth and opportunity.
Sixty percent of companies report that they expect to hire more privacy employees in the next year, with an expected increase of 12 percent in total headcount at the average organization.
Fifty-two percent of our members report that privacy “strongly helps careers” within their organization, and a full 83 percent of members report that it opens career doors in the marketplace as a whole. Even better, perhaps, 81 percent of respondents report that they have more influence inside their organization over how decisions are made and the direction of the company as a whole than they did last year.
That’s probably a good feeling.
Yes, privacy is on the rise, both in corporate boardrooms and amongst the rank and file. Interested in learning more? We here at the IAPP are here to help.
About the Author
As publications director for the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP), Sam Pfeifle oversees everything from the Daily Dashboard to the monthly Privacy Advisor to the IAPP’s various blogs, books and Resource Center items. Pfeifle came to the IAPP after stints overseeing a number of B2B publications, including titles in the physical security, workboat and 3D data capture industries.