Fixing the female PR pipeline

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PR is a female-led industry, 64 per cent of its employees are women and 59 per cent of all PR managers are female. Yet, the top jobs – and salaries – are dominated by men. In 2016, just 19 of the top 50 listed in PRWeek’s Power List were female and just 30 per cent of all global PR agencies are run by women.

If we cannot achieve parity in an industry with a ready supply of female talent, how can other sectors with a less balanced pipeline make the strides needed?

If progress is to be made, we need to be asking ourselves why this happens, and, perhaps more crucially, where do the women go?

In PR, the issues leading to such male dominance for senior roles, in spite of the sector’s female majority, are complex. Not least however, is the problem we have in losing female talent after they start families.

PR is traditionally an ‘always-on’ profession, permanently hooked up to 24-hour news channels and on the end of email for any comms eventuality. It’s not an attractive proposition for someone looking to balance work with the demands of family life, particularly in the early ‘new parent’ years. The result is predictable. Some just don’t return, others come back but to positions that do not reflect their talent, experience or drive and some are somewhere in the middle.

At Story, we are passionate about delivering the best work possible for our clients. Work that makes people stop, think and change. To deliver that, we need the cream of the talent crop. In a competitive marketplace, a huge part of that comes from offering a uniquely supportive and creative working environment that allows people to deliver, while balancing the rest of their lives – including family responsibilities.

We don’t just pay lip service to work-life balance – we are invested in employees actually achieving it – and that is giving us the edge.

Making it happen however means having a team that are all highly motivated and focused on delivering KPI-busting results and industry leading campaigns. That individual drive and commitment is imperative to making our own flexible approach work.

It is important to remember that flexibility is not just a female issue either. Men have families too, and the more we can encourage and support them with family responsibilities, the more the playing field levels and childcare doesn’t become about gender. You also don’t have to have a family to want some leeway when it comes to working practices.

Today marks the launch of the #pressforprogress campaign. In PR, as in many sectors, we have a long way to go to achieve gender equality. The first step has to be in realising that family (or other commitments) exist – and that by working with, rather than against them; supporting our talent rather than forcing it to choose, makes business sense. If we don’t, the talent will vote with their feet and we’ll all suffer the consequences.

Ready to be inspired about making work work? Here are a few campaigns and initiatives we love:

#WorkthatWorks
#IWD2018
#PressforProgress
#100Women
#WIPR

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