GWPR (Global Women in PR) has extended its deadline for taking part in this year’s GWPR Annual Index to 30 September. Believing that the progress of women working in the PR industry is likely to be slower as a result of the pandemic, GWPR hopes the results of the survey, the second edition of a five-year initiative, will help to identify the main barriers to progression and career development.
GWPR co-founder Susan Hardwick shares the inspiration for the index, what she’s expecting to see in the results and how agencies can better support their employees and ensure opportunities are available to all.
What originally inspired the launch of the GWPR Annual Index?
The need to benchmark changes in our global industry over a five-year period – there is no other in-depth global research of its type that highlights the role of women working in PR and communications.
Are there any particular themes/trends you’re expecting to see in the results of the 2020 Annual Index Survey?
Yes – sadly, the effect of COVID-19 has not been good for women in business.
Our recent GWPR research during the COVID-19 crisis highlighted the belief that the progress of women in the global PR and Communications industry will be significantly slower as a direct result of the pandemic.
Two in three (65%) of those surveyed believe it will take longer to close the gender pay gap, over half (52%) believe progression will slow for women reaching leadership positions and 45% feel that with the looming economic downturn, job security is a real issue.
What can every agency do to ensure women in their organisation have fair opportunities to progress?
Be aware of the need to provide the right level of training and support to avoid women leaving at mid-career level – all too often having children becomes too difficult to manage while maintaining long working hours in the office. Leadership and mentoring programmes are key to help women rise to the top roles.
What do you see as the main barriers to gender equality in the PR and comms industry?
Not having flexible work practices, lack of effective training and mentoring and agency heads not accepting that such barriers still exist in 2020!
What difficulties have you personally faced as a woman working in PR?
Luckily, I have not had any really poor experiences – some sexism in the early stages of my career but, overall, my experiences have been positive, with great leaders giving me advice and a determination to succeed!
Who are some of your PR heroines?
One of the women I have admired hugely is Barri Rafferty, for her career successes while championing, supporting and helping women reach their potential. As CEO and President of Ketchum, Barri transformed a top-five global PR firm into a leading marketing communications consultancy. Disrupting the industry with a visionary approach to business, she helped Ketchum adapt to meet the needs of the global marketplace and learn how to be successful in a new world of clicks, reviews and likes. She was the founder of the women’s leadership network at Omnicom and continues to champion women through her external directorships of mentoring and support programmes in the US.
Other women I admire are the four ladies who established Women in PR over 50 years ago without the advantage of laptops, mobile phones or the internet! They were ahead of their time in establishing one of the few professional networks for business women. As a result of their foresight, the dynamic networking organisation for senior women in the industry remains, and WPR UK continues to go from strength to strength… and it was, of course, the inspiration for establishing Global Women in PR!