The debate about gender inequality within public relations has been taking place extensively over recent months and years. There have been lots of theories put forward about why women are not seen in management positions but are a significant group at entry level. I have my own views about it which was why an article by Stephen Waddington attracted my attention (http://www.thedrum.com/opinion/2016/05/10/public-relations-has-problem-gender).
It focused on research from Liz Bridgen, a senior lecturer in public relations from Sheffield Hallam University. Her work will be something to review in detail but it did say that it wasn’t about flexible working issues and the work-life balance. What she found was that women were leaving the profession because the work they did had ‘a lack of meaning’.
In a nutshell employers are failing to use public relations in a strategic way and are therefore, putting people into purely tactical roles. This means people face a dead-end with their career progression and then decide to leave the profession. I can understand this being an issue.
I speak to lots of public relations colleagues working in both public and private sector roles who are frustrated that they are don’t have a place at the top table. This is something I have blogged about many times. If you really want to get the best from communication and public relations then you have to have someone senior working to advise at the highest level.
Without the chance to operate strategically the role of PR staff becomes about delivering requests and carrying out orders. It may mean great activity is being undertaken but it will never truly achieve what it could if it was sat alongside organisational strategy and business development. I agree with Stephen’s conclusion that it will require many things to turn this around and there is no quick win answer. He is also right that it is something the PR profession has to start to deal with now.