Gorkana Executive Club: Transparency, technology and flexible working will boost PR gender balance and diversity

More transparency over pay bands, better use of technology and flexibility in working patterns and practices were just some of the solutions suggested to encourage gender balance and boost diversity in PR and communications from discussions at an exclusive Gorkana Executive Club event this week.

Sue Hardwick BC

Sue Hardwick

The discussion, part of Gorkana’s quarterly Executive Club event programme, was kicked off by Angela Oakes and Sue Hardwick, co- founders of the Global Women in PR networking and leadership group, as they shared results from its recent GWPR Global Gender Pay Gap survey, conducted by OnePoll, which highlighted a £12,600 pay gap between women and men “in an industry dominated by women”.

The survey also revealed that men in PR are more than twice as likely to reach the boardroom than women.

Angela Oakes BC

Angela Oakes

“Coming up with solutions to these issues is vitally important to our industry,” Hardwick insisted, as the room agreed on the importance of effecting cultural change in the sector.

The survey findings triggered a wide-ranging and diverse series of discussions – under Chatham House rules – about the challenges that women in PR face as they build their careers and recommended solutions from the senior communications and PR professionals in the room.

Among the recommendations for the PR industry to consider were:

  • Measure staff by performance, not presence in the office
  • Recognise the best organisations in the industry who have pioneered successful diversity initiatives
  • Encourage organisations to be transparent internally on their salary bands paid to different roles
  • Enable the ‘mum’s army’ to come back to work after maternity leave with flexible working from home
  • Mentoring programmes for women who are building their PR careers
  • Encourage ‘blind’ recruitment which eliminates conscious and unconscious bias

Oakes said: “The Gorkana Executive Club offered a fabulous opportunity for 35 senior communications leaders to come together and openly discuss the gender issues in the PR industry today and what can be done to address these.

“Employers need to look closely at their internal gender pay gap and they need to hold on to talented PR women when they reach mid-career level by offering more flexible working options. Equal pay and a balanced boardroom are not only commercially sound propositions, but above all the right thing to do.”

Jeremy Thompson, CEO (EMEA & India) Cision / PR Newswire, facilitated the discussion and concluded: “The Gorkana Executive Club is a networking forum for senior PR and communications professionals who come together to discuss hot topics and ideas. This particular event, which we ran in conjunction with Global Women in PR, was the best attended and most hotly debated to date.

“The issue of gender pay gap and diversity is as big an issue in PR as elsewhere, but as we heard on the night, the industry is full of ideas and enthusiasm to drive change. We are delighted to give this important issue a platform and want to play a key part in the debate; as such we committed to follow up early in 2017 to track progress and keep the debate live.”


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