Universal diversity and equality

International Women’s Day might give the marketing community – one of the most gender diverse professions in the UK – cause for celebration.

In the PR industry nearly two-thirds of the workforce are female and the old model of ‘male bosses and female workers’ has shifted significantly in the right direction, with women now taking up nearly half of board positions, according to research from the CIPR.  

But we’re not quite there yet. For marketing professionals to take pride in being truly diverse, there are three steps we still urgently need to take.

  1. The first is to ensure that talented women continue to have the same opportunities to rise to the top as their male counterparts. This means we must stop using child rearing as an excuse for under-representation of women at senior levels. (Stats show promotional inequalities emerge earlier in women’s careers and don’t correlate with maternity breaks). We also need to kick the notion that women simply don’t aspire to leadership. I was lucky enough to work for a succession of female business owners at the start of my career. They were role models who made the idea of running my own agency not only seem possible, but entirely normal. Women don’t lack the leadership gene.
  2. The second step we must take is to apply the learnings from our gains in gender equality to other diversity challenges: race, disability, sexuality, religious belief and indeed gender inequality in relation to men. Universal diversity and equality is an area where the marketing profession lags sorely behind other industries. For example, the most recent data suggests that PR professionals from a non-white background are under-represented by nearly 50 per cent. We need to start building a more diverse talent pipeline from the bottom up.
  3. Finally, we must demand equal pay for equal work. Gains in equality and power mean nothing if an organisation doesn’t put its money where its diversity policy is. And with the upper echelons of PR shamed by a 22 per cent gender pay gap, it makes you wonder what other forms of pay discrimination exist in the marketing industry