Progession for women in PR to slow as direct result of COVID-19 – new survey

With Covid-19 driving us to work remotely for several months, what has been the true impact on the working lives of the women in our global industry and how do they now view their future?

The top line findings from Global Women in PR’s latest research, conducted by leading market research agency, Opinium, suggests that the pace for driving women forward into a more balanced industry has taken a step backwards.

Two in three (65%) of those surveyed believe it will take longer to close the gender pay gap, and over half (52%) believe progression will slow for women reaching leadership positions. With the economic downturn looming, job security is also a concern, with almost half (45%) feeling that women will have less job security than men in the PR industry as a direct result of the pandemic.

For many years women in the PR Industry have fought hard to drive a more flexible approach to working arrangements. Not just to enable them to better balance their work and domestic/childcare responsibilities, but to create an environment to encourage more women to aspire to take on key leadership roles and not leave the industry at junior/mid -career level. Only one third of women are currently in senior roles within the global PR industry, whilst the industry itself is two-thirds female.

Almost all (93%) of those surveyed said that the pandemic had changed their working situation.  Although 2 in 5 of those women working from home are now working longer hours, half of them still say they have no desire to return to their previous working patterns – preferring the opportunities afforded by remote working.

However, there are also some positive findings from the research, with 57% indicating that remote working has had a positive effect on their work/life balance and close to half (47%) believing it has helped strengthen their relationships with clients. 38% also believed it had strengthened their relationships with colleagues.

The role models that have stood out during the recent crisis are the female political leaders who have been seen to tackle events in a very positive manner and 42% of respondents believe this will help benefit the advancement of women as business leaders.

The survey also asked for views on both the opportunities and the challenges facing the PR industry over the next 12 months. Not surprisingly the chance to continue to work from home, digital and technical advances, the importance of good communications in times of crisis and being ‘more human’ are the positive outcomes. The challenges that remain are job security, budget cuts, retaining business, adapting to new ways of working and mental health concerns.
 
The survey was conducted in July 2020 amongst women working in the global PR and communications industry.

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