We need more diversity in PR & Comms…

Thursday, 10 November 2011, 12:05 | Category : General
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On flicking through the PR Week Awards booklet last week I was pleased to see some of our agency and in-house clients featuring for successful campaigns and good practice (congrats!). I was not so pleased to turn to p.4 and look upon the faces of the judging panel. Don’t get me wrong, they’re a perfectly nice looking bunch – but there was something strikingly wrong when gazing at the panel as a whole. Have a look if you’ve got a copy. Spotted it?

Of the 50 judges, chaired by Google VP of comms for EMEA DJ Collins, there are only 16 women (less than a third). Even more astonishing for a sector which aspires to embrace diversity, there is only one non-white judge.

The PR Week 2011 Census showed that as an industry we have big issues to overcome to keep women in the profession at the higher levels (most of the judges are agency bosses or run in-house comms teams). Two obvious reasons are the continuing lack of robust solutions to support women through their child bearing years, combined with the lower salaries on offer compared to their male counterparts (also evidenced by the Census). The Census also revealed a lack of representation across ethnic groups.

The gender and ethnicity issues are complex, certainly not unique to our sector, and require more research and resource dedicated to their resolution. However making the judging panel look like a cross section of society would have been a positive step in the right direction. At the lower levels (up to AD level say, or PR Manager) the gender bias is very much skewed the other way, so much so that many people consider PR news to be a female-dominated profession. Something is clearly going wrong during the critical middle management years. It’s a shame, as we are working in one of the few industries where female representation could be equal to men in the boardroom based on the number of women who enter and train in the profession.

As a senior working mum in PR, so part of one of these “minority” groups, I want to see women as equally represented and renumerated as our male counterparts. This will incentivise the younger talent rising through the ranks to stay working throughout their PR careers, to make a valuable long term contribution to their employers and more importantly to the industry.


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