Our boardrooms are lacking in gender diversity, and the absence of female representation has an impact at all levels of an organisation.
The presence of strong, female role models across all sectors and industries is essential to develop a pool of diverse rising talent.
Today I’m delighted to share the news with you that Sarah Pinch has been named in the Financial Times (FT) and HERoes Top 50 Female Champions of Women in Business list.
Sarah is a formidable communicator and a former President of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations. Her stance on gender diversity and ethics in particular is exemplary and the honour is well deserved. You can find her online via her consultancy, Pinch Point Communications and on Twitter @ms_organised.
The list recognises the top 50 senior female role models paving the way for gender diversity at all levels. The Top 30 Male Champions of Women in Business and Top Global Champions of Women in Business have also been revealed today.
According to the FT:
- Women still earn 18% less than their male colleagues
- There are still only seven female CEOs in the FTSE 100
- Men are still 40% more likely to be promoted to senior management roles, over their female colleagues.
I asked Sarah to reveal some details behind the work she has been doing and to gauge her views on some of these topics. She’s a wonderful friend to me and Godmother to my twin sons, I’m thrilled for her to be named in this list.
The lists are a powerful celebration of the fantastic strides being made by women across the UK, Ireland, and around the world. They are published annually and showcase female business leaders and their male allies.
1.The list recognises people who have effected the greatest change in women’s careers. What does it mean to be named on it?
I feel tremendously humbled and extremely thankful to those people who nominated me. The FT has done some great work in this area and it is such an honour to be included in this prestigious list.
Diversity is exceptionally important to me, and I have worked very hard all my working life to support those just starting out on their career journey.
In PR and communications, we have a very particular issue in terms of how we pay, support and promote our women; so to be included on this list, for the work I have done in this area, is hugely important to me.
It is also a great incentive to keep going.
2. What can PR and Comms pros do to help champion women in business?
I think we have to get better at being supportive of each other. Mentoring and sponsorship are vital.
Support women who want to think of PR and communications as a career choice, be kind, listen and connect them with others in your network.
Mentor women, take time out to listen, offer advice and draw on your own experiences.
Sponsor women, magnify their voices and represent them when they are not in the room; ensure they are competent and confident – then put them forward.
Heather Jackson recently said that a mentor would ensure you had your arm bands, take you to the pool, get in with you and get you to the other side; a sponsor greets you at the pool entrance and waits for you on the other side – they believe you can do it.
3. What about the men?
Exactly the same thing; and get out of the way when there is an opportunity for a woman. Stuart Bruce @stuartbruce has spoken very passionately about how men need to move aside sometimes, and allow more women to be heard.
This is especially true at conferences, as you have written about before, Rachel, and indeed in the boardroom – one of my priority areas.
Further reading via the All Things IC blog: Why women don’t speak at conferences
We know PR is still dominated by men at the top; but we also know from the research published by the CIPR in March 2017, commissioned by Mary Whenman and me, that when men have daughters, they understand in a different way the vital changes they must make, so perhaps those men who ‘get it’ can help those who aren’t there yet.
4. What actions can we take today to help make changes in this area?
I’d love for every manager, director and MD in PR to take part in the gender pay analysis, regardless of whether they have 250 employees or not.
I also think it is important to be aware that different people in your team will need different kinds of support; always ask what kind of support someone would like, don’t assume that what works for you would work for them.
And please, can we all stop judging each other. Women (and men) make decisions that are right for them, at that time; it is not for us to make judgements about those decisions, but we should support them, even if we don’t understand their rationale.
I went back to work pretty much full time when my child was four months old, that was right for me and my family; but goodness me, did I get criticised by other women. It was not helpful at all.
5. We have children of similar ages, what do you think the future of work will be for them?
Well, so far #miniteampg has wanted to become an engineer, like dad; drive the recycling van and come with me to London for work; so I think all options are currently open!
We know from all the research that generation Y will not put up with a lot of the discrimination that you and I have faced, Rachel.
Young men and women want to have an equality in the workplace, and the home, and that is inspirational to me; with the people I mentor, men are just as likely to talk to me about their family aspirations, as their career goals.
So I think the future of work will be so much fairer. And I know it is important to you as it is to me that our children understand the importance of work for both parents.
6. What are the biggest gaps in knowledge around this topic?
There is a whole group of people who deny there is a problem. But women are sorely under-paid, under-represented and discriminated against in our profession, and also in others.
It is 2017 and this has to stop. Understanding the root causes is really important and we have started to do this. I am not about to stop now.
7. What advice would you give to your younger self?
Know your worth, as a professional and as a woman; don’t sell yourself short and don’t let anyone put you off your goal.
Ambition is a good thing. Don’t trust too easily; build a strong inner network and stick with those you know you can rely on. Start running!
Thank you Sarah and congratulations again. You can find out more about the lists online.
Post author: Rachel Miller.
First published on the All Things IC blog 27 September 2017.