Happy Women’s History Month, everyone! As we dive into March it is no surprise that we take extra time to celebrate all women and the true power they hold (even though we should celebrate every day). And in PR, women seem to hold another level of power as they dominate the field with roughly a three to one ratio to men. Although there might be more ‘PR girls’ at entry or mid-level jobs, when it comes to leadership, it’s a different story.
Agility PR Solutions states that the PR industry is made up of 70-80% women and companies with women in leadership tend to be 21% more successful. With that, one would only believe that the majority of leadership would then also be women. Beyond those odds, only 30 percent of C-suits in the PR industry features a woman.
But why? Why despite all those odds are women still not seated at the table and how can young PR women change those statistics.
PR Week gives two reasons to why. The first is this idea of a working family woman. Once women reach the VP or higher-level position jobs are usually when they have a commitment to family. Agility PR Solution also hammers in this idea of how work-life balance can be a struggle and although women have the superpower of multi-tasking, work-life balance can take a toll.
PR Week then claims the second reason is confidence. By interviewing different women in PR that hold leadership roles in their company, there becomes a clear message that sometimes the biggest thing that could be stopping women is herself. Jane Morgan, managing director at Golin Hong Kong tells PR Week, “ In my experience, women suffer more so than men from confidence issues. I don’t think there’s one specific reason as it depends on the organisation. Throughout my career I’ve witnessed various situations—women struggling to deal with the pressures and expectations of a high-powered role and raising a family, women pushing other women down…”.
Let’s get to work.
So, now that we’ve addressed some leading problems, we need to work on what can be done. Well, a lot. Especially if you are a young PR professional, you are about to PR industry and it will follow by your example. We need to learn to redefine the leadership and performance we portray. And men, this goes for you as well! This isn’t a one-sided fight, learn to work together and that’s when you’ll start to see the results.
We also must start to shift the narrative. PR Week says we need to make it clear that women can also define corporate ‘success’. By taking their accomplishments and applauding all types of management and listening inclusively to all can lead to a high performing team. They also touch on the idea of stepping away from the traditional idea of women as the primary caregiver when it comes to family. If both spouses are to split the family duties, both parties can have an equal work-life balance and have the confidence in both roles.
Agility PR Solution says that another way to break this barrier is to talk about it. Keep pushing #girlpower whenever you can and educate others. Agility PR Solutions claims even creating women empowerment campaigns can bring attention to the issue. Just look at the progress made by the #MeToo movement and you’ll understand what I am talking about.
Personally, I think the biggest way to mend this gender gap is to inspire women around you and let them know that they are not alone. When people feel supported by others they often have more confidence, translating into their work life. Women in PR are no different. After all, when other women aren’t the enemy, by your equals. So, tell that girl she has what it takes, go for that leadership role and start breaking down those c-suite walls. We don’t just want a seat at the table, we want the whole conference room.
If I have learned anything about being a woman at this age it’s that we don’t step down without a fight, and this isn’t an exception. By changing the narrative and talking about the issue is how we all can make a difference and reserve that conference from the next generations of PR powerhouses.
Melissa Albano is a senior at Grand Valley State University studying advertising and public relations with a minor Mandarin. This is her fourth semester as part of the GrandPR family and she is more than excited to be serving as the Vice President of Operations. Along with being involved with GrandPR, Melissa participates in GVSU’s PRSSA as well as being New Member Educator in her sorority, Gamma Phi Beta. Whenever Melissa catches a quiet moment you can find her hanging with friends, doing some yoga, or exploring more of the beautiful Great Lake State. A fun fact about Melissa is that she lived in Shanghai, China for three years when she was younger. She can’t wait to see what great experiences this position will lead to.