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Why are there so few women in senior comms roles?

The Bechdel Test has transformed the way we see female roles in films. A litmus test to measure the presence of women in movies. There are three components;

1. Are there two or more women in it that have names?

2. Do they talk to each other?

3. Are they talking about something other than a man?

It is incredible how many of our favourite films do not pass this simple assessment.

The good news is that the tide is changing and we are seeing strong female characters in leading roles. This sea-change is needed in other industries and with men taking 51% of senior PR roles but only representing 25% of the PR workforce, this revolution is needed in communications too.

I am writing this whilst on maternity leave, having just settled my teething son for the third time tonight. A good time to reflect? Perhaps not. But it does perhaps give an indication as to the brain drain that is facing our industry.

PwC’s annual Women in Work Index, ranked the UK’s childcare costs relative to average income as one of the highest among OECD countries, representing nearly a third of the income of a UK family on an average wage.

Increasing training, mentorship and sponsorship, as well as visibility of women in leadership roles are all positive steps we can make towards changing the ratio. But the real step change is what every PR agency can do right now; greater inclusivity and flexibility. Offering women the chance to work flexible hours around childcare has reaped benefits for Antidote. Not only has this increased productivity within the team, it’s created a culture of trust and transparency, where I hope everyone feels their job works for them, and they are not working for their job. And we’ve benefited wholeheartedly from retaining some of our best employees as well as finding some gems who, without our flexible approach, wouldn’t be in agency life.

Data shows that businesses with female-dominated management are almost 25% more likely to perform better than the national average. If women are involved in the decision-making process, companies can expect higher margins and increased profits. Let's make this a norm, rather than it being an outlier with small changes to employee <> employer relationships creating lasting ripple effects benefiting the individual and business.


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