Women working in communications are twice as likely to have lost their jobs during pandemic

by | Feb 3, 2022 | Public Relations

New research from New York Women in Communications (NYWICI) exposes the disruption the pandemic is inflicting on the communications industry. Findings show that women in the industry were twice as likely as the general population to have lost their jobs, gotten furloughed or suffered a pay reduction during the pandemic. Plus, 23 percent indicated they looked for a new job with an additional 12 percent of women in communications that identified as parents choosing to quit their jobs entirely.

The report builds on research conducted in the latter half of 2021 and serves as a valuable resource to organizational leadership to help understand what it is going to take to rebound from the massive loss of women in the workforce over the past year.

“We needed a comprehensive study about how COVID-19 has affected our main constituency –- women working in communications,” said Georgia Galanoudis, NYWICI president-elect and chief experience officer, HIMSS, in a news release. Galanoudis launched the NYWICI #WomenHeard initiative prior to the pandemic with the express intent of listening to the needs of women in the field of communications and has played an integral role in the creation and development of the white paper. “This report gives us the insight needed to focus on what’s going to be most impactful to support women from all backgrounds so they continue to bring their talents to the workplace.” she adds.

Women working in communications are twice as likely to have lost their jobs during pandemic

“A once-in-a-lifetime occurrence like the pandemic shows how devastating it can be to finances, family and mental health; unfortunately working women are most affected by these circumstances,” said Dustee Jenkins, president of NYWICI and global head of communications and public relations at Spotify, in the release. “The goal of NYWICI is to advocate for women in our industry and highlight the contributions and leadership we bring to our profession every day,” she adds.

“The inequities that women face in gender, race, pay and mobility have been amplified by the Covid-19 pandemic, and everyone is looking for credible sources on how to measure and address them,” said Anne Kawalerski, global chief marketing officer at Bloomberg Media, in the release. “This research brings the current facts to light as well as solutions we can use to create better working environments and livelihoods for women moving forward.”

Women working in communications are twice as likely to have lost their jobs during pandemic

The NYWICI #WomenHeard research conducted with support from FCB and ENGINE, was developed to uncover the extent of the financial, mental and familial impacts of COVID-19 on women in the communications field. Together with input from Bloomberg Media and additional, nationwide research provided by Meredith Corporation (prior to the company’s acquisition by Dotdash in December 2021), the study revealed:

Job loss & The Great Resignation

Compared to the general work population, those in the communications field have been almost two times as likely to have lost their job, been furloughed, or experienced a pay reduction during the COVID-19 pandemic. Among women in communications (WIC), one in five lost their job, were furloughed, or experienced a pay reduction. The study revealed that a higher percentage of underrepresented groups experienced negative job impacts. And Hispanic WIC were laid off, furloughed, or faced a reduction in pay 1.4 times more even than Black or Asian WIC.

Financial impacts

The WomenHeard study found that WIC feel that they need more support from employers. Even WIC who kept their jobs were two times more likely to not be receiving any support compared to Men in Communications (MIC). During the pandemic, WIC were 1.3 times more likely to not receive any support from employers versus MIC. The gap is even greater between moms and dads in the communications industry, at 1.9 times. The types of support that employees in communications need include longer maternity leave, mental support, good benefits (e.g., longer maternity and paternity leave), and a good management team.

Women working in communications are twice as likely to have lost their jobs during pandemic

Mental health

For communications professionals, mental health support is key for the job satisfaction of parents, particularly moms. Moms in communications are 1.5 times more likely to experience harder work-life balance versus WIC who aren’t parents. Mental health support from an employer is expected 28% more by moms in communication than general WIC and 31 percent more by MIC who are parents versus MIC who aren’t.

The social impact of COVID-19

Among WIC, ethnic groups identified different activities at the top of their lists that they found harder to maintain during the COVID-19 pandemic. For Black WIC, the top response for things that felt “harder” was “staying active” (43 percent); 49 percent of Asian American/Pacific Islanders named “connecting with family/significant others/friends” as the top concern; for Caucasian and Hispanic WIC, “maintaining focus” was cited as the most challenging issue (by 45 percent and 42 percent, respectively).

Women working in communications are twice as likely to have lost their jobs during pandemic

The pandemic & working mothers

Survey data from Meredith (now known as Dotdash Meredith) focused on the impact of the pandemic on working mothers. According to Meredith’s November 2020 Consumer Pulse Tracker, already one in three working moms had experienced or considered a job change during the pandemic, with one in four driven by a desire to scale back their hours.

Childcare in the news

Bloomberg Media shared results from BloombergAiQ—a Bloomberg proprietary data analysis tool powered by AI that analyzes 30K+ publishers globally to identify media trends. Bloomberg observed that childcare was a leading issue in the “women in the workforce” conversation, disproportionately to “men in the workforce.” Over the last year, globally, in news coverage of “workforce AND women,” 13,293 total articles were found, and “childcare” appeared in 25 percent of them.

The NYWICI WomenHeard survey results included insights from over 1200 executives (women and men) ages 21+ across the communications industry and within the general population. Findings are published in the WomenHeard white paper together with perspectives from industry leaders on how to foster a supportive work environment while building a more diverse, inclusive and intergenerational workforce of women.

Looking beyond the communications industry, findings by Meredith focused on the mental and social impact of the pandemic on working mothers, while Bloomberg Media analyzed the top trending news stories directly affecting women in the workplace. The WomenHeard white paper will also culminate in an event in February 2022 featuring all of the research partners involved in the initiative.

In March 2021, NYWICI kicked off a robust research and programming initiative developed to support women at all stages of their communications careers. Through its survey data and digital symposium events with leading executives in the Communications industry, NYWICI sought to identify strategies that can be implemented within organizations to retain existing employees, while re-engaging those who have prematurely left the industry as a result of the pandemic.

Read the full report here.

NYWICI commissioned the U.S. survey of women and men in communications fielded by FCB and its research partner ENGINE. Bloomberg Media contributed nationwide research on the media conversation around how the pandemic has affected women in the workforce. In addition, Meredith Corporation (now known as Dotdash Meredith) contributed nationwide research on the impact of COVID-19 on women in the workforce.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter


11 ways outdoor brands can leverage PR for success

11 ways outdoor brands can leverage PR for success

The call of the wild resonates with many, and outdoor brands hold the coveted key to the door of adventure. Amidst a bustling marketplace brimming with tents, kayaks, and hiking boots, the challenge lies in ensuring one's brand stands out, resonating with the current...