CIPR maternity leave initiative aims to tackle "inexcusable" exodus of women

The CIPR has introduced a number of measures to help members navigate the challenges of maternity leave as it attempts to stem the "inexcusable" amount of women leaving the industry.

Maternity leave: CIPR steps are part of a broader agenda to encourage diversity
Maternity leave: CIPR steps are part of a broader agenda to encourage diversity

The initiative includes providing existing members with one year of free CIPR membership when they go on leave, and has been backed by Women’s Business Council chairwoman Ruby McGregor-Smith. 

CIPR board member Sarah Hall explained that the move was a reflection of the fact that the industry is more than two-thirds female.

"At present, the public relations industry loses talented women at an inexcusable rate," she said.

"There are a multitude of reasons for this – from a lack of support as female practitioners move into leadership positions right through to engrained attitudes and processes that are at odds with the needs of both organisations and individuals today." 

As well as a free year of membership, which begins at the start of maternity leave, the CIPR will offer guides to managing maternity leave, credits for training and access to a private online community. 

While Hall dubbed the moves a "key part" of addressing inequality, she said they were "just the start" of the body taking "a more active role in gender equality, diversity and professional ethics".

Referencing findings from the CIPR's State of the Profession survey, she added: "The issue of the gender pay gap, which currently stands at around £12,000, is not going away. It is absolutely unacceptable that men are, on average, earning this much more than women, even when performing exactly the same roles."

McGregor-Smith, who is also the CEO of Mitie Group, said: "Supporting women through maternity and their return to work is such a value investment, and it’s great that the CIPR and public relations industry is taking an active lead in this area."

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