Tuesday, April 13, 2010

GENDER IMBALANCE IN THE PR INDUSTRY

Approximately 70 percent of today’s Public Relations Practitioners are women, and this has created a considerable gender imbalance in many departments and public relations firms. Currently, many managers say that such an imbalance does not create a healthy workplace situation. Many argue that when clients sought the services of a PR company they prefer input 'from a group of people balanced by gender' and that even women PROs themselves feel the lack of men in PR is 'unhealthy.
Consequently, some feel that something like reverse affirmative action is needed to attract more men into the public relations field. For example, some firms may offer men more pay than women for doing the same job. Some firms believe that a less-qualified man should be hired over a more qualified female applicant. However, would it then be ethical for public relations firms to offer men more pay and opportunities for advancement in order to achieve some degree of gender equality in the office.
No doubt, gender balance is very important in all industry, to make for better working environments and clients do appreciate having a different perspective. In particular, as men and women will come up with very different ideas at the brainstorming sessions because mixed ideas create better ideas.
It comes to us professionals as no surprise that not everyone agrees with the idea that men should be offered more to bring them into the PR industry, by paying them more, or accepting men with poorer qualifications, just to restore the balance. We should find another way to promote males to work in PR industry, as positive discrimination is not the answer.
Men earn more in PR because a higher percentage of men work in the higher paying disciplines; men still dominate the top jobs. For example, according to a survey done in 2002, the best paying PR sectors were industrial/manufacturing, financial services, and professional services and consulting. Those sectors employed mostly men. Otherwise, the lowest-paying sector, nonprofit and charity, employed women.
Although women now make up the majority of public relations workers, the difference in the average salary of males compared to female employees is statistically significant. That said such gender based salary gaps in public relations is complicated and hard to generalize.
Men and woman within the PR industry have been interviewed and have said that they were aware that most of those working in the industry were female. The most common reason put forward for the 'feminisation of PR' is that the industry is simply perceived as being feminine. This feminisation can be explained by the fact the industry is often perceived as being glamorous and a 'soft' career option. Thus, women in PR have found a discipline where they can work and show self-confidence, assertiveness, a risk-taking attitude, and an accountability necessary for business success.