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Plank Center Webinar: Women & Leadership in Public Relations



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Progress in gender diversity in public relations remains painfully slow in many ways, but Time’s Up for the field. According to The Homes Report, women make up about 70% of the PR workforce, but they only hold about 30% of the top positions in the industry.

The Plank Center hosted a free webinar titled “Women and Leadership in Public Relations.”

The Center’s 2017 Leadership Report Card found that being successful in the field is still challenging for women—the pay gap is real; the opportunity gap is real; and the being-heard-and-respected-gap is real.

The webinar discusses bridging those gaps, including action items for current leaders at all organizational levels. Led by industry professionals:

Julia Hood, founder, Pop-Up Media and AgendaZoom
Jacquie McMahon, senior account executive, Ketchum
Donnalyn Pompper, public relations professor & endowed chair, University of Oregon
Brian Price, corporate communications manager, Starwood Retail Partners
And moderated by Leah Seay, assistant manager, public policy communication, General Motors.

To view the archived webinar, go to The Center's website:

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Plank Center Webinar: Women & Leadership in Public Relations

  1. 1. FOR LEADERSHIP IN PUBLIC RELATIONS WOMEN & LEADERSHIP IN PUBLIC RELATIONS Thank you for joining us for today’s #PlankWebinar! We will get started in a few minutes.Throughout the webinar, please ask questions using the Q&A box at the bottom right-hand side of your screen. We will be answering them at the end.
  2. 2. Meet the Panelists Julia Hood Founder AgendaZoom Brian Price Corporate Communications Manager Starwood Retail Partners Jacquie McMahon Senior Account Executive Ketchum Dr. Donnalyn Pompper Public Relations Professor & Endowed Chair University of Oregon Leah Seay Assistant Manager, Public Policy Communication General Motors
  3. 3. • Opportunities: To be hired, promoted, and take leadership positions. • Pay equity: Fair and equivalent remuneration regardless of gender. Equity: What is our industry doing about it?
  4. 4. • #MeToo and #TimesUp have found their way to the advertising and PR industries. • Just as the conversations have broadened from sexual misconduct and harassment to more conventional, less criminal, discrimination. • But these are not new concerns for our industry … A sense of urgency
  5. 5. The word is out
  6. 6. Already an active discussion
  7. 7. With notable activists
  8. 8. Frustration and mobilization
  9. 9. Getting active
  10. 10. Getting active
  11. 11. What can you or your company do? • Participate, and encourage staff to participate, in salary benchmarks like those done by the professional organizations, PRWeek, and The Holmes Report. • Investigate successful equity models in the industry. • Interpublic’s Women’s Leadership Network • Review state laws as they evolve around this issue, and consider adopting new standards ahead of legal requirements. • Salary history questions during interviews. • Discussing salaries with colleagues. • Engage with professional association – including The Plank Center. • Upcoming PR Council webcast on ( Pay Equity in 2018, Principles to Guide the Conversation.
  12. 12. Take ownership: The Salesforce example
  13. 13. Take ownership: The Salesforce example In that review in 2015, Salesforce analyzed salaries by pay, job function, level, and location. If unexplained differences in pay popped up, it made salary adjustments.The process affected 6% of the company’s 17,000 salaries and cost the company some $3 million. Benioff estimates that the next adjustment will cost a similar amount.The company has a market cap of $52 billion. Salesforce had pledged to review its gender pay gap on an on-going basis, and the need for another adjustment underscores the nature of pay equity—it is a moving target, especially for growing companies. It’s a never-ending obligation, to be monitored and discharged from year to year. – from Fortune
  14. 14. Take ownership: The Salesforce example
  15. 15. An ongoing process • The Salesforce example shows us – this is an ongoing process that needs vigilant and constant maintenance. • Candor and transparency is important to establishing trust. • Get help – from industry partners, outside experts, and the executive team.
  16. 16. Taking Individual Action: Mentor & Be Mentored
  17. 17. • Development Dimensions International (DDI) study found: • 67% of women rate mentorship as highly important in helping to advance and grow their careers • 80% of women in senior roles had served as formal mentors • 63% of women reported that they have never had a formal mentor Women and mentorship
  18. 18. • Formal vs informal • Mentorship vs sponsorship What does mentorship look like?
  19. 19. • First step: Ask! • “My mentors have taught me to be a little bit tougher, to not let the everyday ups and downs get to me, but to persevere and be a stronger leader as a result.” – Barri Rafferty, CEO, Ketchum Why (and how) should we seek mentorship?
  20. 20. Why should we be mentors?
  21. 21. To sum it up: Don’t be afraid to ask – or say yes
  22. 22. Work-home life balance issues further strengthen the glass ceiling
  23. 23. Historically, women deferred to their husbands' superior intelligence and physical strength; dictated women's dress code Today, women are told they can do it all! Yet, the conversation almost always is about suburban, middle-class women Cult of Domesticity
  24. 24. • Second-shift is only one variable • PR as flexible, family-friendly field • Lure of a feminized field • Stressed trying to be perfect at work, home, and have perfect body • Men still out-earn women and advance quicker Women’s Slow Ascent
  25. 25. • From “too nice” to “lean in” • Business, finance experience • Leadership, mentors, networks • Commitment questioned Decades of victim blaming “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman. No biological, psychological, or economic fate determines the figure that the human female represents in society; it is civilization as a whole that produces this creature.” – S. de Beauvoir, 1949
  26. 26. • Work-life balance framed as “woman’s issue” • Key factors are degrees of organizational support, career-path interruptions, gender, salary, primary care giver status • “Workaholic culture” • PRSSA students expect conflict! • Negative work environment increases conflict, whereas professional support decreases conflict Finding from PR scholarship
  27. 27. Partially supported 80.6% career work > 41 hours/week 57% primary household breadwinner 42.8% satisfied, 35.7% unsatisfied with balance 40% have considered leaving their field because it’s too hard to balance home life and paid work life H1: Communication career workers report dissatisfaction with communication career-home life balance.
  28. 28. Not supported Even though females reported being more likely than males to consider leaving their communication career due to challenging career-home life balance, the difference is not statistically significant (p>.05) H2: Females who work in a communication career express higher degrees of dissatisfaction with communication career- home life balance than male counterparts.
  29. 29. Not supported No statistically significant difference between two groups H3: Communication career workers in a for-profit setting express higher degrees of dissatisfaction with communication career-home life balance than nonprofit counterparts.
  30. 30. Supported Statistically significant (t=3.303, p<.01) We suggest spouse/significant other not helping around the house – or respondents think they can do it all. H4: Communication career workers with families do not rely on their spouse/significant other to perform more domestic responsibilities.
  31. 31. Supported No gender difference (t=1.216, p>.05) H5: Communication career workers perceive that females with children tend to experience fewer career growth opportunities than colleagues who do not have children.
  32. 32. Supported "I take work home and do it at home.” 31% few times/week, 31% few times/month, 27% every weekday, 7.3% every weekend "At home, I talk about my work.” 58% sometimes, 42% regularly "At my workplace, I talk about my home life.” 75% sometimes, 22% regularly H8: Communication career workers report a permeable border between work at the office and work at home.
  33. 33. • Collegiality – Addressing expectations about filling in for one another – “Mommy Wars” • Flexible boss and workplace schedule • Ability to perform communication career work from home • Establishing parameters • On-site day care at work • Workplace culture of support to avoid guilty feelings Action items to maintain good communication career-home life balance
  34. 34. Millennial Men and the Glass Ceiling
  35. 35. Millennial Men and the Glass Ceiling Millennials are as old as 38, as young as 21, and roughly 40% of the workforce; we’ll climb to 75% in 10 years Millennial men and women have similar work attitudes regarding diversity, inclusion, opportunity and flexibility
  36. 36. Shared Values Millennial Men Compared to All Women in the Workforce
  37. 37. Shared Values Millennial Men Compared to All Women in the Workforce
  38. 38. It’s More Than a “Women’s Issue” In order to attract employees, regardless of gender, increasingly companies are being asked to provide flexibility historically associated with women Why?
  39. 39. 2014 study by Working Mother 46% of U.S. Millennials reported their mother returned to work before they were 3 years old, double from the Baby Boomers Nearly half of Millennials said their mother earned the same/similar wages as their father Identifying for race/ethnicity, Millennials are only 56% white, and attuned with diversity issues
  40. 40. Men Shouldn’t Retreat; Instead, Engage Men may feel unnaturally sensitive to avoiding faux pas, leading to withdrawal Men should instead be encouraged by their company to be mentors to women on staff … more meetings, more coffees, but accompanied by concrete remarks related to the potential mentee’s work performance
  41. 41. Key Takeaways • Pay equity is a process that will require ongoing, direct engagement with employees and industry associations • Don’t be afraid: Seek out mentors and opportunities to be a mentor • Hold organizations accountable in valuing employees who seek to achieve their maximum potential at work and at home. • Millennial women and men have similar work attitudes regarding diversity, inclusion, opportunity and flexibility, which should improve the gender gap as they become more representative of the workforce
  42. 42. Question & Answer Please ask questions using the Q&A box at the bottom right-hand side of your screen.