By: Kelly Franklin
The workforce of public relations agencies is primarily comprised of women and led by
men. It’s time for women to start taking action to create changes.
According to Quartz Media, women compose about 61 to 85 percent of all PR jobs, but
only 30 percent of all agencies are run by women. Given the significant representation of
women, it is ironic that leadership positions are imbalanced in terms of gender and pay.
Some contributors to this imbalance are outlined below along with measures that can be
taken to resolve it.
The first step to equality in the workplace is making male co-workers aware of this issue.
Women should not feel intimidated being surrounded by men in boardroom meetings. Giving women more opportunities to lead throughout meetings will change how men view their leadership abilities.
“When the room is all men but you, call that out,” said Angela Fung of Ogilvy New York. “‘Gentlemen-!’ And then show your smart self-off.”
In addition to raising awareness, equality needs to be promoted in the workforce
through equal pay. When women are just as qualified as men, gender should no longer
serve as a justification for unequal pay. CIPR’s annual State of the Profession report
found that female PR professionals are paid about $12,000 less than their male
While equal pay is a key component for change, women often struggle to balance their
work life with their home life. Many serve as caretakers for children and elders and
would benefit greatly from more accommodations and flexibility at work. Alternative
work arrangements should be offered for women to work from home a few days a week
or a day care service should be provided within the office.
“It’s hugely challenging to have a full-time senior-level career in this industry as a woman and as a mother,” said Angela Oakes, MD of Treehouse PR.
It’s not just men that need to help create more equal working environments. Women can and should get involved, too. According to PR Week, mentors and sponsors play a fundamental role in cultivating more female leaders. Having a female role model that has key advice to offer can greatly benefit beginning PR professionals. These role models will create incentives to work harder in order to be able to fill that woman’s shoes one day.
“We need to reach a point where most people will work with a senior woman who’s made it through the proverbial glass ceiling, because then it begins to be normalized,”said Sally Costerton, chairman at MHP.
With so many influential PR women fighting for these changes in the industry, I believe
their voices will be heard. In the future, women’s equal representation in leadership will no longer be an anomaly, but a norm.