It’s well documented that men hold the vast majority of CEO positions in the top PR agencies, with some estimates topping nearly 80 percent. In an industry that is predominantly women, this makes the gap between men and women especially pronounced.
Studies point to several factors impacting women’s rise to the C-suite, including work-life considerations and practices, reduced likelihood to receive milestone promotions or pay increases, and unconscious biases.
Most of the current research available doesn’t address issues specific to the public relations and communications profession—so the Institute for Public Relations and KPMG set out to address how PR can achieve better and quicker progress that empowers and moves more women into leadership positions. This includes how companies and the industry can support women to achieve coveted senior positions and identifying practical actions that mid-level women can take to navigate their careers.
Some of the findings of the study include:
- Sexism still persists in the workplace; some women felt excluded from the “boys club” and encountered stereotypes in the workplace.
- Almost no male respondents said they had personally experienced discrimination in the workplace, while nearly all women said they had.
- Informal mentorships may work better than formal mentorship programs.
- HR policies were an opportunity for change—imbalanced policies create an imbalanced playing field.
- Work-life fit is an issue for both men and women who said they always felt pressure to be “on.”
- Both women and men acknowledged an industry pay gap.
The study also features stories from women and suggestions for change. The “Call-to-Action” includes:
- Gender equality is not just a cause for women but men, too.
- Imbalanced policies and pay gaps can be addressed by organizations now.
- Leaders must prioritize change and action, while having open conversations with their employees and the industry.
This is part one of a two-part study of mid- to senior-level women and men in public relations to analyze women’s leadership in the field. The report opens with some notable quotes, followed by the “Summary of Themes,” and ends with a “Call to Action.”
Through a series of 10 focus groups with both male and female, mid-to-senior-level leaders, IPR and KPMG set out to address how we can achieve better and quicker progress that empowers and moves more women into leadership positions. This includes how companies and the industry can support women to achieve coveted senior positions and identifying practical actions that mid-level women can take to navigate their careers.