Attending lavish events, drinking champagne, networking in glamorous cities and, on the odd occasion, speaking to journalists. This is the world of public relations according to brand-new television drama Flack.
The glamour is certainly enticing, and seemingly befitting of an industry where women make up a massive 66% of the overall workforce, according to the 2018 PRCA Census. To put that into perspective, women in other business and financial sectors barely make up 43%. Matthew Alexander, Director of Matthew Group Limited specializing in Personal and Entertainment Publicity, recently hired a new member of staff. When posting the job advertisement, he says he was inundated with more than 100 applications from women- and only 16 applications from men.
“There isn’t anything wrong with it however It has always struck a chord with me. Is it because PR is a naturally feminine industry? Or are women influenced by the media’s portrayal of PR?”
“I feel there is a lot of encouragement and guidance for women to go into men-led fields however there notably fewer programs that encourage men to build a career in female-led fields like PR and nursing which I believe is a separate issue.”
PR supposedly attracts swathes of women because it is an industry that requires listening and empathising skills, teamwork, and fierce advocacy on behalf of clients. These are skills that are said to come naturally more women than men.
“Unfortunately, this still doesn’t mean that women are being treated equal in the PR industry. Look a little closer and you will find that there is a clear imbalance when it comes to senior roles. About four of every five leadership positions are held by men”
Indeed, women hold anywhere from 61% to 85% of all PR jobs, and 59% of all PR managers are female. And yet, according to the 2014 World PR Report, only 30% of all global PR agencies are run by women. So how can the imbalance be redressed?
- Add more women to boards. More women in the boardroom are good for the bottom line. The same Catalyst study found that greater numbers of women board directors correlate with a higher return on sales, better stock growth, and lower risk of insolvency.
- Increase work flexibility. Balancing work and life commitments can be especially difficult for women because responsibilities for childcare and elder care often falls to them.
- Eliminate stereotypes. Though much progress has been made for women in the workforce, sexism is still an issue for many organizations. A study by Yale in 2012 showed that when a man speaks up he is considered powerful. But women are more likely to face criticism for speaking more than others.
- Promote yourself. Women have to take up the mantle and fight for themselves to overcome obstacles. Perhaps because they tend to be punished for it, women are less likely to self-promote than men. Yet women are also their own best advocates. Don’t be afraid to share your successes with your supervisors.