Opinion: PR – Pioneering the way for women in senior roles

Aliya Vigor-Robertson, co-founder at London-based HR company JourneyHR, explains why PR is a relatively strong industry for female progression, though she emphasises the need to continue that momentum.

Aliya 1

Aliya Vigor-Robinson

The government is backing a new campaign to increase female representation in business leadership positions following the 2016 Female FTSE Board Report which revealed progress in developing the talent pipeline has slowed.

This report builds on an earlier review by Lord Davies and calls for FTSE 350 companies to have 33% of women on boards by 2020. With more to be done across the board, the PR sector is an example of an industry that is already successful in this area, but there is still more that can be achieved.

A report released by the CIPR in March this year showed that women make up 48% of MD, partner and owner positions within the PR industry.

This is a huge improvement from the same report in 2013 that showed women only made up 13% of the same roles. Over the past three years this increase showcases the PR industry’s dedication to the issue of gender diversity.

As an industry, PR has actively developed the characteristics and skills that are needed when it comes to helping women reach the top jobs. Also, this has inspired and encouraged a large percentage of women to start up on their own. Females creating their own businesses is an encouraging sign that the industry is on the right lines when it comes to developing skills and giving women the confidence to go it alone.

This is a positive sign given that, within the PR industry, staff are often promoted for being excellent at their jobs; creating media opportunities for clients, building relationships with press and writing strong content.

Promoting people because of these skills is vital but they also need to understand the fundamental aspects of running a business if they are to progress to the board. Running or having ownership of a company requires an entirely different set of skills.

Senior staff need to understand the business’ financial controls, be able to form and execute the strategy for growth, attract and retain the best talent, ensure the operations that underpin the firm’s work are sound and fit for purpose and build a network of key influencers to help support the business.

All the while they must stay close to clients, keep a key focus on client retention, win new business and establish a unique culture within the company. The PR industry is a front runner for encouraging business acumen at each stage of the ladder, as strategy is introduced in various forms from an early stage.

The PR industry has pushed ahead when it comes to promoting women to the top levels, whether that is through inter-company development or encouraging and inspiring them to start their own businesses. However, even with the government focusing on females in senior roles, the PR industry needs to keep up its pioneering efforts when it comes to women in the industry.

  • Aliya Vigor-Robertson is co-founder of JourneyHR
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