A year ago, we marked International Women’s Day with a blog full of advice for young female professionals from women in senior PR positions. We did this as part of our CSR initiative to “invest in communicators of the future”, but also to acknowledge the gender disparity in our field, which is becoming increasingly evident.
A year later, things don’t seem to have changed much. Global Women in PR (GWPR) surveyed PR professionals in 37 countries as part of their GWPR Annual Index which found that 62% of PR agency boards are dominated by men, despite the fact that the PRCA’s 2019 PR and Communications Census found that females now make up 67% of the industry.
However, there are signs of progress. GWPR’s survey found that 64% of us believe that having more women in the boardroom would improve profitability, while 81% feel that more needs to be done to help women get there.
The campaign theme for International Women’s Day this year is #EachforEqual, which focuses on the idea that, collectively, each one of us can help create a gender-equal world. We are all parts of the same whole and our individual actions and mindsets have an impact on wider society. We can actively choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions and celebrate the achievements of women, and this year’s campaign is a call to action to do just that.
In an effort to do my bit, I spoke with our directors here at Haggie Partners about their views of the wider PR industry, and what they think needs to be done to promote gender equality.
Caroline Klein, director at Haggie Partners since August 2019, has worked in communications for more than a decade and feels that, while progress across the industry is certainly evident, we still have a long way to go. “There is certainly more discussion about D&I in the workplace and an industry-wide focus on putting measures in place, but whether that is translating into concrete change is hard to judge. Looking around the industry, I see perhaps a little more diversity, with more women and people of different ethnic backgrounds joining the workforce. It’s hardly a flood though.”
Why is this? Richard Adams, long-standing team member and director here at Haggie Partners, thinks it could be down to lack of direction. “Lack of clarity around the career path to seniority is an issue in the sector. There should be more transparency about how to progress with support for those that wish to pursue a career to a senior level.”
Caroline agrees. “More active mentoring and support from senior men and women is needed across the board. Networks supporting junior or mid-level staff continue to pop up, but they need to be seen as professional and focused, and men need to be involved in them too.”
So, what can be done to level the playing field in our sector? “More action in helping mid-level women to access managerial training and development would help,” said Caroline. “More focus from regulators will force those who wouldn’t naturally be interested to look at the issue seriously.”
Similarly, Richard feels that support and guidance is key. “More mentoring, training and greater career-path transparency is required in our industry. It’s a leadership issue but it’s also incumbent on all to break down and remove any artificial constraints that might prevent any capable individual from achieving.”
In the spirit of #EachForEqual, it’s about time we all made a conscious effort to support our female peers and celebrate the achievements of women in communications. Only then will we be on our way to promoting a gender-balanced workforce.