This is a guest post from the team at Hotwire Global.
Imagine a gender equal world. A world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination. A world that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. Together we can forge women’s equality. Collectively we can all #BreakTheBias.
That’s the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day 2022. We spoke to a number of PR and communications professionals in the industry to ask about their experiences and shed light on how we can all play our part to spark lasting change.
Rebecca Taylor-Cottle, Head of Communications, EMEA at Citrix
‘As communications professionals, we have a significant amount of influence within our businesses. With the right planning and dedication, we can use this influence to elevate women’s stories, sponsor women, and raise their profiles both internally and externally. In a former role, I did an audit of the people who represent our business in the media and found them to be just 3% women. I then looked for ways to improve things, running more media training for women, introducing new narrative arcs, and simply elevating women’s voices on social media. A year later, 30% of our media coverage had a female spokesperson. By acting as a sponsor for women, I created a much more representative view of our business from a media standpoint, and helped some of those women develop and grow in their roles. We may not be in charge of who is hired, but Communications teams can still have a huge impact on women’s careers.’
Melanie Coffee, PR and Media Relations Director at Crayon
‘I’ve been a storyteller for over 20 years and am always on the hunt for a good story to share. We often hear about the lack of women in the IT space, but there’s certainly not a lack of stories about us. It’s just a matter of taking a brief moment to look and listen for them.
‘When I find out about a cool project, I like to talk to individual team members, not just the person leading it. In doing so, you will often get different insights that strengthen your story, and it is more inclusive for the whole team.
‘When it comes to working to #BreaktheBias, early in my career I was fortunate enough to work with some incredibly powerful women who showed me the different ways in which they “owned their space” and they were unafraid to stand up for what they thought was right. I carry those lessons with me and try to pay it forward through supporting women and young people in their careers.
‘This can happen through providing feedback 1:1 on their recent presentation, taking a few minutes to push them to “own their space,” combating feelings of imposter syndrome, and my personal favorite: Stop telling yourself no.
‘Sometimes we talk ourselves out of an idea before we even propose it. That’s telling ourselves “no.” We need to stop doing that and instead push forward. And if we “fail” then make sure we “fail” forward.
‘It’s also being transparent in my own work and life. How I have failed forward, how I struggle to balance family and work. I am hopeful that by being open and honest with others I can help them learn along the way.’
Natasha Gay, senior account director and UK Hotwire Ignite Possibilities Programme (HIPP) lead, at Hotwire Global
‘As an industry, we must do more to restore the diversity balance through actions, in order to shift the narrative. It all starts with people, and it can’t be done in a tokenistic way.
‘We can’t yet consign to history the idea PR is only for young, white women. According to the most recent PRCA census, 74% of those working in the industry identify as white British and the average is 38.
‘We should be actively looking for ways to increase the diversity of our workforce. This extends beyond recruitment – it starts at an education level. It’s about recognising and understanding why the industry has not diversified like other sectors. This is something that we at Hotwire feel very passionate about and, as a start, we are working with organisations like 10000 Black Interns to help address this.’
Vic Miller, VP PR & Communications at GWI:
‘The term ‘PR girl’ should be banished for eternity. Now in my 40s I rarely get ‘girl’ but the concept is still the same – the presumption that there is a woman who does PR and she’s at your service. This completely removes the understanding that PR and comms is a strategic role that often needs to set the strategy as well as deliver on it.’
For more on how the UK PR industry is marking IWD 2022, check out our blog here.