I am sat watching the programme trying to find the Icon of the 20th Century and it is raising a whole host of issues for me. Defining an Icon is a really difficult thing to do. It is stated to be
A person or thing regarded as a representative symbol or as worthy of veneration.
Bestowing that on an individual is very subjective and problematic. There are many people personal to me that I would put in a position of being worthy of praise and recognised. But to be an icon there has to be something that means it reaches a wider group of people, or so it seems.
If you look at all those in the final there are some common traits. Firstly, they were all individual and prepared to go on their own to follow what they believed to be right, or what they wanted to do. They were not going to conform and pretend to be something else. That is a quality that has to be truly admired because with that confidence comes a huge amount of pressure and pain.
Secondly, they overcame challenges, hurdles and attempts to deviate them from their path and to blur their focus. They are set apart because they persevered and continued to learn from their experiences and press on.
Finally, we cannot fail to notice that they are all men. The finalists chosen by the public are men. It is not that men have defined the 20th century but we live in a society and an age where men are still more likely to be in those top positions or have the confidence to be themselves. Women still have some way to go to be recognised in this sort of forum, and we still have many societal attitudes to challenge.
This may seem like a huge challenge and it is. But if we all do a little bit in whatever way we can then the future can be different. Next week is the first meeting of the Women in PR ambassadors and while I am unable to make the trip to London I am keen to ensure that I can make a difference in the coming months. Women are still not paid at the same rate as men, they still face the questions about their private lives and marital status, they still find doors to the top jobs closed, and they still have to fight hard to be recognised for their skills and expertise.
In 2019 in the PR and communication industry we have an opportunity to make a change and ensure that our PR and communication leaders are a diverse group.