Who’s breaking PR’s glass ceiling?

Answer: Not enough young women just starting in PR and not enough mature women in mid-career who are angry, fed up and determined to change things, says this observer.

There aren’t many cracks in PR’s glass ceiling … yet.

PR is among the most rapidly growing “best jobs” according to U.S. News and World Report. But PR’s seemingly progressive culture fails the majority of its professionals—women.

Although women make up about 70 percent of the PR workforce, they hold only 30 percent of the top positions. And research suggests women have more challenges attaining leader positions than men.

Women in PR still face a glass ceiling—the invisible barrier to advancement.

To a woman PR pro, it’s disheartening that opportunities get scarcer as women reach higher positions, especially later in their careers.

Many studies show women hit the glass ceiling long before they can expect to be considered for CEO jobs, likely a result of deliberate decisions and subconscious bias at the top.

In an industry overwhelmingly female in its lower ranks—and overwhelmingly male in upper management—how can such a blatant imbalance persist?

It’s difficult to pinpoint how to change it. What must happen to break the glass?

The PR industry might be inspired by Beyoncé’s “Run the World (Girls).” That song empowers women. It urges them to believe they can run the world.

Empowerment is the key to equal opportunity. Organizations that want equal opportunity in the workplace must create a culture and structure that offer all an equal chance to advance.

Policies that ensure equal pay, offer paid parental leave and provide the flexibility to work from home accommodate women and prevent gender or family from placing any team member at a disadvantage.

Some agencies do equalize opportunity, but the numbers show not all PR firms accommodate female staff. Among the industry’s top 10 agencies, women make up a mere 29 percent of leadership teams.

Data show it’s not impossible for a woman to lead in PR, but the data also imply that there are more obstacles blocking the progress of women to positions of power.

Industry leaders must be held accountable. Six of 10 Americans believe that women’s family responsibilities stand in the way of their becoming top executives. This statistic alone raises doubt about how much PR agencies value their female staffers.

To create equal advancement in PR, an empowerment movement must take root. If we all make more conscious, deliberate decisions to empower others and ourselves, the glass ceiling will shatter.

Until then, don’t let the glass ceiling define or confine talented women in an industry we dominate. Like Beyoncé says — “We’re smart enough to make these millions, strong enough to bear the children, then get back to business.”

Binh Nguyen is a marketing associate at Flackable, a financial PR and digital marketing agency, She writes for AdvisorAdvertising, a media channel offering tips on advertising, marketing and PR for financial advisors. Follow Binh on Twitter. This article first appeared on Flackable’s blog.

(Image via)

Topics: PR


Ragan.com Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive the latest articles from Ragan.com directly in your inbox.