Tomorrow, March 8th 2014, marks International Women’s Day, a great time to look at how women in Canada are doing in the PR industry.
According to Service Canada, employment in PR has risen significantly and is expected to continue to grow (good news!). When last surveyed, women held around 69 per cent of these roles, compared to 47 per cent of the workforce across all Canadian industries. Communications appeals to women.
However the current state of affairs of women on boards (across all industries, I might add) isn’t rosy. A recent study looking at 12 major North American cities shows that Canada’s four largest cities (Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and Calgary) rank below all major U.S. cities other than Dallas in terms of the number of women in management roles. This could impact future growth according to the Toronto Region Board of Trade.
Furthermore 93 per cent of women in senior positions in Canada believe they make less money than a man performing the same work, according to a survey byRandstad Women Shaping Business.
How can we better support women in the workplace in Canada?
Some proactive steps are being taken, with it becoming compulsory for companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange to disclose how many women are on their boards and set targets for future quotas.
However more can be done, particularly in our industry where women account for such a high percentage of the workforce. We should be leading the way.
Here are some suggestions:
- Job share: Allowing two women to job share on a part-time basis can be empowering. Constant communication is essential if this is to work, which shouldn’t be a stumbling block for PR professionals. We’ve used this method at Peak for women returning from maternity leave, allowing us to retain great employees.
- Part-time working: When job-sharing isn’t an option then part-time can also work, depending on the role.
- Mentorship: Female mentors can be a great support for individuals juggling multiple priorities. A VP at Peak mentors women entrepreneurs in her spare time, offering guidance to help other women in the community succeed.
- Networking and support groups: Communities that focus on women in business can be helpful. Women in Leadership is one organization that offers leadership-focused events in Canada’s major cities.
- Recognition: It’s important to celebrate successful women leaders in the PR world. PRWeek in the US publishes its US Power List, which in 2012 featured 17 women. This provides role models for aspiring PR employees, and I hope to see the number of women featured rise over time.
Supporting women in the workplace is good for the employee and employer, positively affecting retention rates. Take a moment over the weekend to consider how you can help ambitious women achieve their goals and the impact they can have on your business. Let’s change these statistics.