How to fix PR’s wage gap

There’s no denying that PR comprises mostly women in its workforce. Yet women hold only 30 percent of its C-level positions. How can that change? Find out here.

Thanks to the election, pay inequality gets high attention from both presidential candidates.

The New York Times, in a recent article about Hillary Clinton’s promises, asserts that men get paid more mainly because they enter industries with higher paying positions. But there are bound to be women in the offices these higher-paid males occupy, in any field, so why can’t women’s pay equal men’s in whatever occupation men choose to enter?

While Clinton has been fighting for pay equality through legal action based on the Paycheck Equality Act, some women take a different way to success. Many women, especially in PR, become entrepreneurs running their own agencies.

The Center for an Urban Future, Capital One’s Future Edge Initiative and WE NYC (Women Entrepreneurs NYC), recently hosted a conference titled “Breaking Through: Harnessing the Economic Potential of New York City’s Women Entrepreneurs.” The keynote speaker was Alicia Glen, NYC’s Deputy Mayor. There were two panels of presenters.

The first panel dealt with “The Power and Potential of Women Entrepreneurs.” Erin Andrew of the U.S. Small Business Association, Gregg Bishop of the NYC Department of Small Businesses, Laurie Fabiano of the Tory Burch Foundation, Lexy Funk of Brooklyn Industries, Monique Greenwood of Akwaaba and Andrea Jung of Grameen America made up the panel.

Male investors hold women entrepreneurs to a higher standard

Jung made a good point on what investors expect from men versus women when they invest. “With men, investors want to see potential,” said Jung, “but with women, investors want to see proof.” It is unfair for women entrepreneurs to be held to a different, higher standard.

The second panel, “Boosting Women Entrepreneurs in NYC’s Tech Sector,” featured panelists Nicole Hamilton of Tactile Finance,Jalak Jobanputra of Future/Perfect Ventures, Susan Lyne of BBG Ventures, and Brooke Moreland of Jewelbots. The women discussed the importance of a strong female presence in the tech industry, and how to grow that presence.

Private equity investment: A citadel of male bias and bigotry

These four women pointed out that a pitch to male investors on a product or service that seems foreign to them must pass the “wife test,” meaning, males will go home and ask their wives, girlfriends, or female friends if this product or service would be useful (worth investing in). More women in financial and investing positions would bring more open-mindedness to the table, and eliminate the wife test.

A recent article by WeWork featured successful women entrepreneurs, asking them for their best advice. “In a male-dominated workplace, women often default to a defensive approach to be able to stand up to the unique challenges that being a woman brings,” states Ashley Burnstad of HYP3R. “Being conscious of when we’re doing this and working to be more assertive (productive) than aggressive (inflammatory) generally gets a better response, regardless of gender.”

COMMUNICATORS: Stop being an order taker and become a strategic partner.

Women entrepreneurs fight through many challenges that men don’t have to undergo. Learning to cater pitches to males, asking for the capital that you deserve and need to start your business, and sticking to your goals are obstacles that women entrepreneurs are taking measures to combat.

A million glass ceilings remain to be shattered

Women business leaders offer great advice to young leaders. In an article in Washington Women in Public Relations, Debbi Jarvis of PepCo Holdings, her corporate goodwill firm, states, “I don’t like to look at things as challenges, I like to look at things as opportunities.”

Glass ceilings must be shattered over and over until there’s nothing left for women to break through. If our goal is to get our economy back on its feet, why not do so by encouraging entrepreneurs, especially women entrepreneurs?

Courtney Lukitsch is the founder and principal of Gotham PR, which has offices in New York and London and clients in 25 cities globally.

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Topics: PR

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