Public relations fails to engage the women working within it

Women working in public relations are significantly less engaged and less satisfied with their jobs, new research has found.

The Report Card on PR Leaders, produced by the US-based Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations in partnership with Heyman Associates, found that just half of American women working in communications find their jobs engaging, compared to 62 per cent of men.

The picture worsened for those who were not in leadership positions. Fewer than half felt engaged, of whom ten per cent reported being actively disengaged with their profession.

Likewise, more men are happy with their public relations jobs than women, with 66 per cent of men saying they are satisfied or very satisfied compared to just 58 per cent of women. Public relations professionals who work in agencies were also found to be more satisfied than those working in-house or for non-profit organisations.

Trust in organisations was found to be an issue, receiving the lowest grade of the five areas examined. Respondents generally trusted their company’s ability to compete successfully and achieve its goals, but were less confident in its ability to keep promises and consider employees when making important decisions.

Women also rated all factors to do with their workplace’s culture lower than men. Shared decision-making practices, the presence of two-way communications and diversity were identified as problem areas by all respondents, although workplace culture generally was rated more highly by agency professionals. Overall, respondents rated their chief executive’s understanding and valuation of public relations highly, but rated that of their other leaders lower.

The Report Card also highlighted a gap between the perceptions of company leaders and those that work beneath them. Leaders gave themselves an A- for performance whilst followers gave them a C+. Leaders received high marks for ethical orientation and involvement in strategic decision-making, but lower marks for their vision, relationship-building skills and team leadership capabilities. These grades remain unchanged from those given in 2015, when the report was first published.