Whether you were rooting for or against her presidential campaign, Sen. Hillary Clinton's concession speech gave professional women particular reason to smile with its reference to that infamous glass ceiling. Her campaign steered away from championing a feminist message while she was still a Democratic contender, choosing instead to focus on her ability as a person rather than one of a specific gender. But when Clinton said, "Although we weren't able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it's got about 18 million cracks in it," it was impossible not to cheer.
Women leaders in PR have the same responsibility to their brethren in the industry: to encourage, to lead, and to question the status quo. Unlike the political sphere, the PR industry might be seen as an arena that transcends the legacy of the glass ceiling, given the sheer number of female PR pros. An agency that recently visited PRWeek's office noted that nearly three-quarters of its staff is made up of women. One of the female account supervisors present noted that women might be attracted to the field because they see it as an industry that affords women more opportunity for advancement than others.
A glance at the top executives at PR firms shows a number of women: Kathy Bloomgarden, Aedhmar Hynes, Andrea Coville, Donna Imperato, Marcia Silverman, and well, the list goes on. Still, there are many women that have not been able to make it to the top slots, or, worse, don't think it's possible. We hear from women PR pros all the time that either worry about balancing home and work responsibilities, or fear they will be disqualified from the race to the top.
PR leaders should mentor young women in the business so they can put a crack - or even a hole - in the glass ceiling, and reassure them that they won't be discriminated against.