Reassessing the gender pay gap on International Women’s Day
Today marks the 108th International Women’s Day. It serves as a collective call for gender parity and this year’s theme #BalanceForBetter is, in my opinion, one of the best yet. It recognises the fact that balance isn’t just an issue that affects women, but a business issue: and it’s a really important distinction to make.
Even though PR has historically (and somewhat stereotypically) been perceived as a female-led industry, there is still a marked gender pay gap. According to the PRCA’s 2018 PR and Communications Census, the current pay gap between male and female PR professionals stands at 21%. When you compare this to the 2018 ONS stats, which put the gender pay gap at 8.6% for full-time workers (the closest it’s been for 21 years), you realise how far behind the PR industry really is.
Initiatives like International Women’s Day are important because they help create change and raise awareness. On the topic of gender parity, you can already see positive changes in education, with more children being taught how to code at primary school in the UK. By comparison, I went to an all-girls school and had to learn knitting and cooking alongside maths and physics. I ended up studying psychology at university; I would have preferred engineering but it just didn’t occur to me at the time.
Fortunately, my mum was a career woman and my dad always treated me like an equal, which helped me develop some valuable self-belief. After graduating, I went into PR. I’m proud to say that my company, TopLine Comms, is an equal opportunities employer and that our STEM specialist team comprises an equal gender split.
Having built TopLine from scratch, here are some of the things I’ve learned along the way that might help anyone starting out in public relations, or any other career for that matter.
Watch enough romantic comedies and you’ll end up believing that female colleagues need to be archenemies, but that shouldn’t be the case. Women must help other women succeed. The first step is to help others and hold yourself accountable for speaking up about positive gender parity and equality in your workplace.
Mentorship is extremely important to empower younger generations to fill the shoes of their seniors. Look out for mentorship programmes, or simply ask a more senior female colleague to mentor you and show you the ropes
Run your own race
Social comparison theory is the belief that humans are driven to self-evaluate by comparison to others. It’s easy to believe that your peers are better than you – maybe you think that they have better senior relationships, get to work on more exciting opportunities or get better results. But comparison is the thief of joy. It’s a dangerous practice and one that stops you from running your own race and focusing on you. Be yourself, know your strengths, use them wisely and the rest will follow.
If you haven’t read Michelle Obama’s book ‘Becoming’, I strongly recommend that you do. In the book, she talks about the idea and importance of balance – precisely the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day. Juggling a career, family and friends, and still having time for yourself is no easy feat, so it’s vital that you set boundaries and stick to them.
Try to identify what you feel comfortable sacrificing and what you don’t, and then make sure that don’t compromise on it. It’s different for everyone so, as mentioned above, don’t compare your choices to others. You’ll find lots of articles with top tips from successful people, from not reading emails first thing in the morning to creating lists and getting enough me time. Ultimately, it just comes down to what you need to do to be your most productive self. Find what helps you to balance your time and don’t be embarrassed to incorporate it into your schedule.
Awareness days give us an excuse to reflect on important issues that affect our lives. Let’s use this year’s International Women’s Day and theme of #BalanceforBetter to tackle the gender pay gap and talk more openly about how women can succeed in the workplace.