Women make up two-thirds (PDF) of the PR and communications industry. Yet, as Francis Ingham, director general of the PRCA, says, "The gender pay gap is real; entrenched; growing," and needs to be addressed now.
In an industry made up of so many women, how can the gap be growing?
With the average age of PR employees being 29 years old, it does not take a genius to see what is happening, especially when that is the same age as the average American mother.
The latest BLS survey (PDF) shows a third of women in the U.S. are leaving their jobs when they have children. That means industries are potentially losing out on a treasure trove of top talent.
We are losing not only talent but money. It costs around twice an existing person’s salary to hire and re-train a replacement, so investing in robust retention strategies to bring back diverse individuals is paramount. This will ensure a well-balanced workforce that is better for companies’ bottom lines. So, what can the communications and marketing industry do to attract more women back to work?
Returnship programs are designed for women who have had successful careers but have had time out of the workforce. Workshops, coaching, and mentoring, alongside their managers, helps rebuild these women’s confidence and professional status, and this can drastically improve team dynamic and morale.
Alumnae connections is a low-cost way of encouraging the returners to come back, too. Cultural fit is, arguably, the most important component of retention. When you hire back an alumna, you have someone who already understands your core company values and beliefs.
Ensuring women are well supported upon their return is great for improving confidence for the mom and strengthens team dynamic. Proving there are internal policies and benefits packages in place can really entice women back to work. For instance, offering lactation rooms, a way to stay in touch with other moms during maternity leave, or advice on child care arrangements can make the difference.
Flexible work options
Technology is changing how we work, meaning presenteeism should no longer be a requirement. Remote working, flex time, compressed schedules, or job sharing are all techniques that boost higher retention rates of women. Similarly, project-based work provides benefits to both businesses and those re-entering the workforce. Highly qualified mothers can come back when required, meaning their years of experience are not lost by taking a timeout.
Companies implementing these policies and practices are seeing the benefits. In the end, it is a no-brainer: Finding ways of keeping high-achieving women contributing their talent and expertise will not only help women pair career fulfilment with the joy of motherhood but will also allow women to add value to corporations.
Rita Kakati Shah is founder and CEO of Uma, an international platform empowering women returning to work.