Industry losing experienced people because of poor maternity practices, poll reveals

A poll of PRWeek readers has revealed that a majority believe the industry is losing experienced professionals because of poor maternity practices.

A majority said the profession is losing experienced people because of poor maternity practices
A majority said the profession is losing experienced people because of poor maternity practices
The poll asked: Are we losing experienced PR professionals because of poor maternity practices in the industry?

Of the 380 people who voted, 69 per cent agreed, while 31 per cent disagreed.

Laura Weston, managing director of iris Culture, said she was not surprised by the findings after more than 15 years in the profession.

She said: "I know so many women in senior positions who are going to leave because they can’t take it anymore. This has to change because they have all this experience and we’re going to lose it."

Weston, who is currently on maternity leave herself, said a career in PR and being a parent were both emotionally taxing and that, together, this created a "combustible" mix.

She added: "Women get very emotional when they think they are not doing a good job. We need to work with women to introduce more flexibility and this can mean lots of things - it could mean five days, but reduced hours, or job-sharing."

But Weston said the industry needed to move away from the idea that flexible working was a ‘female-only’ issue and that fathers also wanted the same thing, a point echoed by Bibi Hilton, managing director of Golin.

Hilton said: "I think more flexible working practices need to be open to male and female employees because dads want to get home for their kids' bedtime as well, so I would not align these poll results to the male/female split across the industry. I definitely think there is more we can do for mums and dads. I do think that, historically, the industry has been unable to think laterally and offer flexible working practices."

The PRCA said there was more work to be done to address poor maternity practices across the PR industry.

Francis Ingham, PRCA director general, said: "It is surely no coincidence that, while 63 per cent of the PR industry is female, male board directors and partners of consultancies outnumber female board directors and partners by more than two to one. The PR industry needs to provide better opportunities for women returning to work after maternity leave, and it also needs to improve flexible and remote working opportunities."

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