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2016 Salary Survey Results

Here are the results of the 2016 GuildSomm Salary Survey! Thanks to everyone who participated.

If you'd like to compare against previous years, here are the 2015 and 2014 results.

  • I wanted offer a few explanatory notes on the data presented in our salary survey. We’ve seen a few questions on social media and hopefully this will provide some answers to the topics related to us.

    The survey was offered to all members, and we had 1134 responses, which is consistent with the last two years. In fact, the results have been remarkably consistent from year to year, other than showing a gradual increase in line with or ahead of inflation. We only give information for categories where we feel we have enough responses to provide meaningful data. The smallest sample size was for the CMS Master certification where we had 40 responses. However, since this has a complete market size of about 200, we feel that 40 responses is likely to represent an accurate result. All of this information is based on self-reporting, and while we have some basic knowledge of statistics, none of us are professional statisticians.

    Regarding the breakdown by job title, the one that is least clearly defined—and thus likely to be a little suspect—is that of Education. We see a pretty big disparity within this number as it represents both entry-level positions and top industry experts.

    I think it’s also important to understand that within any of these categories there is broad variance, and these numbers represent a median, not an expected outcome. Just because you have a particular title or certification does not mean you should personally expect the data to fit your situation. For example, within a certain certification some respondents will have decades of experience or own large businesses (i.e., don’t expect that if you achieve one of these certifications or job titles that you will see that relative jump in your pay).

    This year we also added a new category for market size. This was based on self-reporting but we made the following suggestions in the survey:

        - Major wine market (New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, London, etc.)
        - Mid-tier wine market (Phoenix, St. Louis, Detroit, Minneapolis, etc.)
        - Small wine market

    Finally, I’d like to note the most-commented-on aspect of the survey: a $7000 difference in median income based on gender. I have looked at the data to see if other factors could be accounting for this, such as a higher percentage of female respondents with less years of experience—since our industry has seen an increase in the percentage of female wine professionals over the last generation. However, not this nor anything else I’ve looked at accounts for this discrepancy, and we believe the gender pay gap is a real phenomenon. This should, however, not be of any surprise if you have looked at national statistics. You will see varying numbers for what the gender gap for pay is nationally, and how you figure that number can be controversial, but I commonly see about a 20% gender gap being a real phenomenon. The gap that is in our numbers is about 10%, so I would be careful in making any generalizations that this tells us something uniquely negative about the wine business. We certainly share the view that gender—or any other other like factor—should be irrelevant to compensation, and while putting out this information is likely to invite criticism, our position is to offer our findings. The obvious first step in addressing potential pay gaps is recognizing the issue.

  • Thank you for your analysis, Geoff. I wholeheartedly agree that we need to recognize the issue and address the reality to find a solution.
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