Equal Pay, Executive Positions, and Family Balance

Google “business executive pictures” right now. Are you seeing predominantly pictures of men or women? It’s men, because there is a huge gap of women in executive positions across all industries. But it couldn’t be that way in the public relations industry where women are the majority, right? Not so. I was shocked to find out that men hold the majority of the executive-level positions in an industry filled with women. It’s not that these corporations can’t find qualified women for these positions, rather it is the lack of effort in diversifying within the company. In honor of national women’s history month, now is the time to address this question and evaluate how we can make a difference.

Give me the Facts:

While women dominate almost every level of PR, the executive level seems hardly touched by women. Women in PR came out with a report showing that although women represent two-thirds of the global PR industry, 78 percent of the CEOs in the top 30 PR agencies worldwide are men and they also occupy 62 percent of seats in the PR boardroom.

It doesn’t end there. In the PR industry, employment is projected to grow 9 percent between 2016 to 2026, which comes with pay that women wouldn’t get elsewhere. In a study, female PR specialists in the US make an average of $55,212, while the national average for female workers is $40,742. Yet, the average salary for males in PR is $61,284, showcasing a $6,072 pay gap.

And this is just the mid-level salary, the executive level proves how unjust the system is. Among the highest earners, 28 percent of men earn over $150,000 compared to just 12 percent of women.

Do people still believe that women can’t do the job as well as a man? If so, they are mistaken.

Research reveals that companies with a higher representation of women in executive positions financially outperform companies with fewer women executives. At the executive level, to be perceived as effective leaders women leaders need to demonstrate both sensitivity and strength; while men only need to demonstrate strength.

Why PR is for Women:

I may not have the answer to why women aren’t selected for executive positions but I do know why women are drawn to PR. Make no mistake PR is for women. Research shows women are mainly drawn to PR because they are collaborative and social in group settings, necessary skills for PR.

“Studies have shown that women tend to collaborate more and prefer to work on teams, whereas men usually do better in competitive environments and prefer to fly solo. That male approach works well for journalists, while having a bit of a ‘people-pleaser’ gene probably attracts and/or makes it easier for women to excel in the PR environment,” said Jennifer Hellickson in an interview with The Atlantic.

Besides skill sets, women are also drawn to the PR industry because of its time flexibility in managing a career and family obligations. Women can still be that stay-at-home-mom and have a full-time job because some work allows you to work remotely. Yet, women are scrutinized if they have a family and are in the workforce full time. They either spend too much time in the office and not enough time caring for their family, or too much time with their family and not enough in the office – but there is a healthy balance.

In reality, women who spend time in the workforce model for their children that men don’t always have to be the breadwinners. In a study, women who grew up with a working mother tend to have more powerful jobs and earn more than women whose mothers did not work. In the United States, women with working mothers make 23 percent more than women whose mothers did not work. If anything, it teaches children how to balance work and life.

What to Do:

Why are equal pay and fair consideration for executive opportunities still an issue? Beats me. Corporations that lack diversity, especially gender diversity, lack integrity. Now more than ever before highly-qualified women are primed for executive positions and equal pay. The public relations industry needs to lead the next generation to workplace equality by eliminating workplace stereotypes, instilling confidence in female peers, proactively adding more women to the boardroom, and creating opportunities for women in executive positions.

The rise of women in the PR industry happened for a number of reasons and I have full confidence that by working together we will continue to grow into executive positions. We are proud that here at Veracity our President, Amy Rosenberg, started this company from her kitchen table and continues to inspire women in the PR industry.

 

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Mikaela Farasyn
A graduate from the University of Oregon, Mikaela is an account coordinator here at Veracity. Passionate about social justice, Mikaela cares about organizations that care about the people they work with, the product and service they create, and the need of their audiences.