Imbalances in the boardroom continues to be a major issue in the public relations industry, according to the results from the Global Women in PR’s 2021 Annual Index, produced in partnership with Opinium.
The Index finds that little has improved when it comes to women leaders in comms. Despite the fact that two-thirds of the global industry’s workforce are female, the majority of boardrooms are still made up of male decisionmakers.
The survey questionnaire, designed to measure the fortunes of women working in PR and comms across the globe, asked respondents about their working environments, the pressures of PR, barriers to leadership, the impact of parenting, workplace sexual harassment and the gender pay gap.
Asked what could help women take on more senior roles, 57% of respondents felt that remote working was important, with 73% saying they would be more likely to take a job that offered flexible working (an increase from the 69% in 2020). And flexibility is where there has been real evolution over the last year – 91% of PR professionals are currently working flexibly; most believe that hybrid working will continue post-pandemic, also. 21% said they will be working remotely full-time over the next 12 months.
Barriers to leadership positions highlighted in the Index are, perhaps unsurprisingly, childcare and caring responsibilities. Three-quarters of those taking part in the survey feel that a lack of flexible working and family-friendly policies stop women from achieving promotion to leadership level.
The belief that having women in the boardroom improves productivity and creativity is held by over four-fifths of the PR professionals who took part in the study. 82% also believe that this improves working practices, with 81% believing women on boards clears barriers to promotion for other women.
‘With the changes to more flexible working practices being brought about by Covid and a real recognition by businesses that women, and a truly diverse workforce, really do make a difference to the profitability of a company, there is light at the end of the tunnel,’ said Angela Oakes, Joint President and Co-Founder of GWPR.
‘We hope that our 2022 Annual Index will show that the dial has moved to a better place for all of us in our industry.’
Download the full Global Women in PR Index for 2021 – including data on mental health, burn out, in-house versus agency and more – here on the website.
For more on the trends to come for PR and communications in 2022, check out our expert contributors’ predictions.