Future female leaders breakfast series

In July, Opinium hosted the first of our breakfast round tables of future female leaders in the creatives industry, discussing their views on diversity and representation of female voices in not only their industry but the creatives that they work with.

 

The relaxed focus group style discussions (navigated around a sea of avocado and poached eggs on toast) highlighted key issues affecting the growth potential of young women working in PR and problems with diversity in the industry pointing toward biases in recruitment.

 

Most of the group observed the fact that the majority of PR teams are female at a more junior level e.g. internships/ placements/ executives yet at a senior level there tends to be many more men. With so many females in junior/ mid-level roles a key question was posed, how is it possible that the gender balance becomes so skewed to men at positions of seniority?

 

The second theme, calls into question the lack of diversity in the industry. The group discussed the idea that it’s very hard to start out in PR and communications unless you have a certain level of financial security to fall back on as junior roles aren’t paid well, with some even mentioning they started out with an unpaid internship. Based on this, the recruitment pool tends to be mainly white middle-class applicants, a non-intentional recruitment bias that becomes a cyclical process.

 

“There is a huge lack of diversity in PR, marketing and comms in general. We hire people that we find agreeable, that we understand and like – but we need people that bring a different perspective so that we can break the boundaries.”

 

However, on the other hand, some mentioned that nowadays there is a pressure to recruit a diverse mix of people. With companies feeling the need to fill ‘quotas’ as this is the ‘right’ thing to do as opposed to naturally choosing the person that is actually right for the job.

 

The findings from the round table brought to life the key issues facing the creative industries today from the view of young women in the first few years of their careers. The views of the group directly fed into a panel discussion hosted by WiPR (Women in PR) an organisation of women working in the PR industry aiming to highlight the need for progress, for inclusion and equal opportunity.