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Gender Discrepancies in the PR Industry

In the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the fifth goal is to achieve gender equality between men and women by 2030. With seven years to go, it is hard to envision an equal society without gender pay gaps and discrimination. Despite the prevalence of women in specific industries, leadership positions in these fields are predominately led by men.

In the media and communications industry, women comprise 37% of leadership roles globally. According to the Global Women in PR 2022 Annual Index, women represent two-thirds of the industry. However, leadership positions are dominated by men. The discrepancies between gender representation in the workforce and leadership positions raise questions about the gender imbalance in the public relations industry.

Why Gender Inequality?

The Institute For Public Relations (IPR) highlights that the PR industry is subjected to the glass ceiling phenomenon. The glass ceiling refers to the unacknowledged barrier towards women within organisational hierarchies. The report identified different reasons for gender inequality in the industry. These factors include few female role models in leadership positions, insufficient support systems for women, inadequate flexibility towards family obligations, unclear promotion policies, and more.

Few female role models in an industry can deter prospective female professionals from pursuing careers within the industry. This occurrence is even more present in leadership roles as it demonstrates a lack of career advancement opportunities for women. Similarly, insufficient support systems deter aspiring female professionals from advancing their careers.

The IPR report highlighted the last two factors as significant issues in gender inequality. The primary factor perceived by 62% of respondents was inadequate flexibility towards family obligations. Additionally, 58% identified unclear promotion policies as a significant problem. These factors focus on the organisation’s responsibility to be transparent and flexible in its business approach and employee relations. Furthermore, these factors call for accountability in their gender-related policies. Moreover, companies must consistently improve their gender pay gaps and discrimination protocols.

Possible Solutions

Numerous studies and investigations have been conducted to identify the reason for gender inequality and procure solutions for the industry. Websites like European Parliament, PR Week, and PR News present their findings and solutions. The United Nations (UN) even highlights the importance of women in achieving gender equality and empowering women worldwide. However, one could argue the need for men to be educated and create solutions in this predominately patriarchal world.

In evaluating the amount of support provided to female PR practitioners, 50% of men feel sufficient action has been taken. On the contrary, 45% of women disagree. This disparity shows that men need to play an active role in pursuing and implementing solutions.

Despite the slight progress in gender pay gaps over the years, is that still enough? The answer would be no.

This begs the question, can we ever achieve gender equality when female-dominated industries are still male-led?


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