This year the theme of International Women’s Day is #BreakTheBias. This means that on IWD today, Tuesday 8th March 2022, women from all over the world will be celebrating the achievements of other women, raising awareness against bias and taking action for equality.
All powerful stuff!
As an all-female organisation, Ballyhoo PR is led by women and, aside from our external suppliers, everything in the business is done by women.
We hear from our director Emma Speirs about why bias in PR is a cause close to her heart…
Building the Ballyhoo Crew was not a case of conscious, positive discrimination, but through a happy coincidence, all four of us are women. Not only that, all four of us are mothers.
Why is this relevant?
My own experience of working in PR as a parent is that it is very biased towards men. It’s not their fault, it just is.
PR is very much an ‘always on’ kind of job that is just not possible when you are a Mum, particularly to young children.
Starting out in PR as a twenty-something graduate and still doing this as a forty-something married Mum-of-two has required a lot of juggling over the years.
I’ve worked part time and full time and have had two maternity leaves – one six months long and one 12 months long. I’ve worked school hours with a childminder for holiday cover and I’ve worked full time with a nanny taking care of my children from after school until 6pm. My husband also worked constant nights for 10 years to help out with the childcare.
However I did it, I felt that I was always lacking at something.
If I was there for my children, it meant I couldn’t be on the social media rota, man the press office or attend the glitzy events. If I worked longer hours, I felt like I was missing seeing my children grow.
Whilst I know that fathers also have this battle to some extent, it doesn’t seem to, on the whole, impact their career too much.
From various PR and marketing groups I am a part of, and from speaking to friends and colleagues, the bias is most definitely real in our field.
Bias in PR
According to PRMoment.com, a survey carried out by recruitment company The Works Search in 2018 found that by three years into their career in PR, men are paid as much as £10,000 more than women doing the same role. For senior positions, the average pay gap grows to a staggering £75,000!
Whilst I have nothing to back this up, I feel that this disparity is a result of the ‘have it all’ culture we were all urged to go for in the 1990s. We were told it was OK to have the career, the family and the nice house and holidays. We could be anything we wanted to be! We could have equality!
And, whilst I really want this to be true as a feminist, it has taken a long time to realise that we can’t have it all. Not truly. Not all at the same time anyway.
Life is a series of phases and that’s OK.
There are so many talented women out there that have studied degrees and worked their way up through the ranks to get the career they want, only to find that when they have children the acceleration stops and there is this weird kind of plateau. Some even find the juggle just too hard and give up their careers to be stay at home mothers or work part time in a completely unrelated field like retail or charity work.
What if you could have children and progress in your career?
What if you could use your creative talent and hard won skills every day but still be able to pick your children up from school?
This is something I have tried to create at Ballyhoo PR for myself and my colleagues.
And, hopefully, it will be the one good thing to come out of the Covid-19 pandemic – that employers can recognise that women thrive in a workplace that gives them autonomy and flexibility.
We need to #BreakTheBias