On the 6th of February 1918 the Representation of the People Act enabled (some) women to vote for the first time and paved the way for universal suffrage just 10 years later.
On the centenary of this fight for democratic equality it is fitting that we will see the gender pay gap being openly addressed for the first time and on a very public stage. But as in every play, this story contains both triumph and tragedy, as this particular victory in equality is set against a backdrop of President’s Club dinners and industry-wide sexual harassment stories spanning from Hollywood to Haiti. There is, clearly, still some way to go.
When you draw back the curtain and examine the figures, they do not make for comfortable viewing. According to the Joseph Rowntree-Foundation, a female graduate today will be paid an average of 22% less than a male graduate. And while the PR industry is predominantly women, a ratio of 3:1, at board level it is still dominated by men, to a tune of 64% at board director and partner level.
It is hard to argue with the facts and there are no immediate or clear solutions, so what is to be done? Well, I was delighted, and also very humbled, to be voted onto the Women in PR Committee earlier this month. Under the guidance of a new progressive and dynamic President, Bibi Hilton, we are committed to reducing the gender pay gap and empowering more women in our industry into senior leadership roles and onto boards.
As sponsorship secretary on the committee, I am already meeting a broad range of different companies to discuss both financial and strategic support which will ensure we can have a meaningful impact.
I’m pleased to say that I’ve already been bowled over by the positive feedback we have had. Half of the battle does appear to be won as people openly acknowledge that there is a problem, so now we are all focused on solutions, which is a very positive place for the new committee to start from. Our efforts will focus on a range of tactics, from empowering the younger generations to changing mindsets at senior levels – we will be working tirelessly to bring about change.
So, this certainly won’t be the last you’ll be hearing from me, but until the next time, I leave you with the words of arguably the most (in)famous suffragette, Emmeline Pankhurst:
“You have to make more noise than anybody else, you have to make yourself more obtrusive than anybody else, you have to fill all the papers more than anybody else, in fact you have to be there all the time and see that they do not snow you under, if you are really going to get your reform realised.”