05 Creativity & PR – Where are all the women?

By Yana Miladinova, PR & Marketing Executive

The title of this event at the PRCA Creative Group event intrigued us. Are women held back in PR? After all, we’re a PR agency, our MD is a woman, our Head of PR is a woman. We’re a predominantly female organisation, and a quick straw poll in the office before I left revealed that none of us feels held back.

It turns out we’re unusual. Harriet Minter, journalist and a speaker on women’s rights, kicked off the session with a striking fact: women fill 70% of the entry-level positions in PR, but only 12% of the creative director positions.

From there, the panellists – Lotte Jones, Creative Director at Teneo Blue Rubicon, Rebecca Grant, UK Managing Director at Cohn & Wolfe, Kat Thomas, founder & Global Executive Creative Director of One Green Bean, Gemma Vardon, Creative Director at Golin – debated why this is and crucially what can be done to change the situation. Is it simply that PR is a relatively new industry? Do we just wait for women to make their way through their careers and it will all even out in time? Or do women need to be encouraged to take more risks?

It was a wide-ranging debate that covered a host of questions such as: Is it simply that PR is a relatively new industry? Do we just wait for women to make their way through their careers and it will all even out in time? Or do women need to be encouraged to take more risks? Do companies need to encourage women to apply for jobs that they might worry they’re under-qualified for? Would mentoring and peer coaching help? Do women need to rethink their perceptions of ambition, and stop being afraid to ask for promotions and pay rises?

It was a fascinating and inspiring debate. My favourite piece of advice from the night was to “Have fun and just add creativity to everything you do.” It’s an approach I try to adopt in my life and that I see happening every day in my work at Red Setter.

Back in the office, I got the view from Alex Blyth, our Co-Owner. He says: “The root of the problem is that employers expect different things from men and women with family responsibilities. They expect men to be at work five days a week, and women to take more responsibility for the children. That’s not what I expect in either my family or my business. It means as an employer I am able to hire incredibly experienced and talented people because we embrace part-time working, and as a father, I’m able to be an equal part of my children’s lives whilst continuing a career I love.”

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