Let's get flexible in the PR industry

Flexible working is crucial not only for working mums and dads, but the PR industry as a whole.

Time for the PR industry to get flexible, argues Annabel Parkinson-Lee
Time for the PR industry to get flexible, argues Annabel Parkinson-Lee

Technology has had such a massive impact on how we live, play, communicate, shop and think.

We spend much of our time at work talking about this, but another crucial thing technology has done is change the way we view work.

We are no longer tethered to our desks, especially in sectors like PR, where much of our work is focused on events, meeting people and communicating across a number of different platforms and channels.

Work, after all, is a thing you do, not a place you go.

With technology making flexible working such a valid option, surely it’s a no-brainer?

Sadly that’s not the case. According to Digital Mums, 7 in 10 UK employees would like flexible working but only 12 per cent have ever asked for it.

As a woman, with a job, and a small child, I was horrified to find out that 390,000 working mums experience negative and potentially discriminatory treatment at work each year, according to the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

It’s not just working mums that want (and need) flexible working to be taken seriously.

We shouldn’t forget that men, and people without children, or who’s children are grown up, need, want and deserve flexible working too.

The PR industry generally employs more women than men, but we frequently see a gender pay gap begin to emerge as we look at more senior PR roles.

The PR industry needs to fix the causes of the gender pay gap earlier in women's careers

So what’s happening to all our talented female PR leaders?

The stats seem to tell us we’re having families and then not being able to come back to work in a way that works for us.

Work/life balance is an elusive beast.

Flexible working for employees means we can get closer to achieving it, and for businesses can mean attracting and retaining the best talent. Having a child does not instantly reduce your abilities, desire or right to work, but it does mean a shift in commitments and priorities.

A progressive and collaborative attitude towards flexible working is crucial.

And that’s not just because it works for me personally, but also because as a parent and professional I think it’s important that we stop excluding people from work just because they have a family or other commitments.

Annabel Parkinson-Lee is an account director at CubanEight

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