On Monday, we published an article that argued a form of inclusion rider (a quota which has been advocated by Oscar-winner Frances McDormand), would help the PR industry’s diversity problem.
But do quotas actually work?
Specialist recruiter Miramar Global Executive Search points out that while some studies suggest having at least 20% women in leadership teams increases innovation, these successes can’t be linked to quotas.
Miramar has found that studies of companies’ performance, decision making and stock market returns, from multiple countries, have failed to confirm that quotas make a difference.
It argues that workplaces are complex, and suggests those companies with at least 20% female leadership may have recruited from a wider pool of talent, without a quota. This is problematic in and of itself, as Miramar asks: ‘why should the search for female talent have to be more extensive than the search for commercial talent of the opposite gender?’
This is a huge problem, and particularly in PR where women make up the vast majority of the industry but are still underpaid compared to their male counterparts. Within the first three years of their career, women are paid £10,000 less. In PR, it shouldn’t be hard to find qualified and successful women – but due to institutionalised sexism, they’re being left behind.
This is not restricted to the PR industry, or even just the business world, as Miramar points out, ‘there’s a larger societal issue that must be addressed in order to banish gender roles and achieve optimum opportunity for all’.
Joanna Arnold agrees with this. The CEO of Access Intelligence (the parent company of Vuelio) said in an interview for International Women’s Day: ‘Undoubtedly there are early social pressures – gendered toys, that kind of thing – which are reinforced by broader social structures as girls grow up. And of course, those broader social structures are mirrored in the corporate world.’
If quotas don’t work, what’s the solution?
Miramar says that to truly achieve effective diversity, ‘Organisations need to implement inclusive training programmes to nurture and encourage all staff to rise through the ranks. Likewise, they could consider more flexible working hours and better share of parental leave to alleviate pressure which can discourage women from advancing to roles with more responsibility.’
Filling up numbers in order to hit targets is not good enough; companies need to be encouraging and supporting women so they have the same opportunities – and, more importantly, they also feel they have the same opportunities – as their male counterparts.
Joanna said: ‘I do believe fundamental change is coming. For young girls today, technology is just a normal part of their everyday lives. There are apprenticeships dedicated to helping women get started in the industry and academies to help them progress. And I think of myself as part of a new generation of leaders whose approach marks a challenge to those established corporate structures. All these things are working in concert to create a more diverse, more dynamic, more welcoming workplace.’
Change is coming, but everyone could do more to support it. Educate your staff; encourage, accommodate and understand that not everyone is equal in the workplace. This will allow you to support those who need it and create a fairer environment for every employee on the team, and anyone looking to join you.