Women & Leadership in Public Relations


Progress in gender diversity in public relations remains painfully slow in many ways, but Time’s Up for the field. According to The Holmes Report, women make up about 70% of the PR workforce, but they only hold about 30% of the top positions in the industry.

The Center’s 2017 Leadership Report Card found that being successful in the field is still challenging for women—the pay gap is real; the opportunity gap is real; and the being-heard-and-respected-gap is real.

The webinar discusses bridging those gaps, including action items for current leaders at all organizational levels. Led by industry professionals: Julia Hood, founder, Pop-Up Media and AgendaZoom; Jacquie McMahon, senior account executive, Ketchum; Donnalyn Pompper, public relations professor & endowed chair, University of Oregon and Brian Price, corporate communications manager, Starwood Retail Partners. Moderated by Leah Seay, assistant manager, public policy communication, General Motors.

Access: Slide Presentation

LEAH SEAY: Hello, everyone. First of all, thank you, guys, so much for joining us. We’re incredibly excited to be here with you all day. My name is Leah Seay, and I am the assistant manager of Public Policy Communications at General Motors.

The Plank Center for Leadership and Public Relations works to support students, educators, and practitioners who are passionate about our profession by developing and recognizing outstanding diverse public relations leaders, role models, and mentors, just as Betsy Plank did. Known as the first lady of public relations, Betsy Plank attained a leadership position, not reached by previous women, overcoming challenges along the way.

Similar to the challenges Betsy faced during her 63-year long career, the center’s 2017 leadership report card found that being successful in the field is still challenging for women. The pay gap is real. The opportunity gap is real. And being heard and being respected gap is real.

This webinar will discuss bridging those gaps, including action items for current leaders at all organizational levels, creating equal opportunities for communication professionals, addressing pay equity and the need for mentorship, and shattering the glass ceilings. So, with that, I would like to introduce you all to today’s panelists.

Julia Hood is the founder of AgendaZoom, a brand of pop-up media, and a member of the Plank Center’s board of advisors. Jackie McMahon is a senior assistant accounting executive in Ketchum New York’s corporate practice. Dr. Donnalyn Pompper is a PR professor and endowed chair at the University of Oregon. Her research focuses on helping people maximize their potential at work. And last but not least, Brian Price is the corporate communications manager for Starwood Retail Partners in Chicago, working across social media, websites, email, and text messaging marketing for shopping centers.

Now, as you all are listening, we encourage you to type your questions in the Q&A box that you guys can see at the bottom of your screens for our panelists, and we will answer as many questions that you have that we can get to the end of the webinar. Also, for those of you who are on Twitter, we would love for you guys to tweet at us. You can tweet at us at @PlankCenterPR using the hashtag #PlankWebinar. So, with that, we will go ahead and get things started, And Julia, I will let you take it away.

JULIA HOOD: Thank you so much. I’m so pleased to be here. Thank you all for joining us today for what is a really important discussion on a really important day. I don’t know how many of you are aware, but today is actually Equal Pay Day. Tuesday, April 10 is Equal Pay Day.

It was originated this day by the National Committee on Pay Equity in 1996 as a public awareness event to illustrate the gap between men’s and women’s wages. And this, of course, we know that that effort endures. If you look at the World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Report 2017, they highlight how important the gender pay gap is to address for global stability. As they put it in the World Economic Forum, gender parity is fundamental to whether and how economies and society slide, ensuring the whole development and appropriate appointment of half the world’s total talent pool has a vast bearing on the growth, competitiveness, and future readiness of economies and businesses worldwide. So, they’re not understating it, but they are somewhat gloomy about how long it will take until we achieve gender pay parity.

The latest estimate by the World Economic Forum was that it may take up to 217 years to achieve pay equity, which seems extraordinary. But I’m sure that in our very enlightened advertising and communications markets, we can make great strides to this effort. So, starting on my first slide.

Equity– what is our industry doing about it? Obviously, there are two very distinct parts of the equity story that we have to address, and they connect to in this effort. So, the opportunity equity to be hired, to be promoted, and to take leadership positions. And pay equity, which is obviously the fair and equivalent in remuneration, regardless of gender. This year is now– moving to the next slide– I think we’re all aware that there is a greater sense of urgency around these topics.

The cultural movement around “me too” and “time’s up” have found their way to the advertising and PR industries. And just as the conversations in that core, the spark of the me too and time’s up that movements have broadened from the criminal sexual misconduct to sexual harassment and all the way to more conventional, not criminal but the discrimination and the enduring issues that women face in the workplace. These are not new concerns for our industry. They are not new to anyone else.

On the next side, WPP because it is a publicly traded company in the UK– they’re headquartered in the UK– is a ,position of having its gender pay gap very, very apparent because they are required to file with the UK government, as most large companies are. What their gender disparity i if they have one. So, the median 14% across UK WPP agencies is likely not atypical in other companies and other holding companies.

It’s interesting to note, though, that in the PR agency that actually was lower. So, there was quite a broad range within the individual agencies within the WPP Group. And moving on next to the next slide, the 3% movement is 10-years-old this year.

It started as an effort to close the gap between the number of female chief creative officers at the top of advertising agencies. That figure, which was 3% at the time of launch is now entered double digits. It’s 11% now but still a significant amount of work to do there– moving onto the next slide.

Cindy Gallop has been a notable critic of the advertising and broader marketing universe over the issue of gender equity and equal pay. Last year, a year ago, before me too and time’s up had really blown up, she had launched a Facebook app that was aimed at helping women with their negotiating skills around equal pay. I point these out because they are very sort of structured and predictable ways that individuals have mobilized women around these topics and have brought women together to try and address these inequities in the market. But the way I have noted the me too and time’s up really playing out in a new way in this era is on social media. So, Guy at Madison Avenue is a mostly Instagram brand that is completely anonymous.

It’s a group of like-minded advocates for gender equality. They’ve come under criticism, as well as praise. They’ve gained a lot of followers by publishing everything from accusations of individuals and improper behavior to research and studies and encouragement and empowering type information as well. And its gained a huge amount of popularity. What’s been interesting is seeing how this very, very sort of underground unnamed community has pushed the advertising and marketing industry that much further along.

I should also point out, by the way, that the PR council– SHEQUALITY effort as well– a community effort also launched about a year ago now as well. And that’s another one of those sort of institutional groups that was really tackling this issue. But now, I think the difference that we’re seeing now is this sort of grassroots frustration bubbling up to the surface and pushing individuals along and pushing organizations along. In perhaps response to that, the advertising and marketing industries or certainly the agencies have joined up with the time’s up movement to launch time’s up advertising.

It has numerous cosigners from across the industry to say that they support what time’s up is doing. And it’s time to bring this kind of scrutiny and the sort of expectation to the advertising industry the PR industry as well. And Gail Heimann from Weber Shandwick is one of the signatories here. So, there is some PR participation in this as well.

But again, about although that mobilization and that sort of institutional convening and tackling in these issues have predated this, I think we are in a new era of frustration where the types of communication that we’ll be hearing about this will be continuing to be quite aggressive and forceful and that people will be looking for results. So, moving on to what can you and your company do. I think we know that there is an expectation in the workforce that companies will address these issues.

If they are not being addressed in your organization now, then almost certainly, you will be challenged to address them at some point. So, participating and encouraging your staff to participate in salary benchmarks, like those done by the professional organizations, PR week, which is my former employer, the Holmes Report. It’s very important.

We need data. We need to understand what is the landscape and where is the gender parity. So, encourage your staff and you yourself should participate in those benchmarking studies. There are successful at putting models in the industry where agencies and organizations have made very, very serious commitments to this. We’ve mentioned some of them– Peer Council SHEQUALITY, Plank.

Obviously, it was a key leadership issue for at Plank, but Interpublic as well has a Women’s Leadership Network. So, there’s a commercial response. They’re very public about a lot of the information, a lot of the data that they bring to that effort, reviewing state laws and all the laws that apply to federal employees only as they evolve around this issue. And consider adopting those standards, ahead of legal requirements.

Some states require that employers or prospective employers do not ask salary history questions during interviews. This is a state by state requirement. It is not a federal requirement. But why wouldn’t your company necessarily adopt that ahead of the legislation to show that you’re not setting salary standards based on perhaps artificially lower standards by another employer?

And there is a federal regulation that federal employees are not to be penalized or fired for sharing their salary information with each other. And so there is no requirement for pay secrecy, and transparency is everything. Of course, this is one of the things people don’t like to talk about– how much money do I make? But the more transparency we have on these topics, the more likelihood we’ll have of addressing them more quickly. And then, of course, the professional association, as I already mentioned.

And I would also– just moving on to the next slide– is in to express the ownership of this issue from the leadership level is really, really important. Salesforce very notably and very publicly grabbed hold of the gender pay equity issue directly from the top– Marc Benioff, the CEO, went through two very, very significant rounds– and managed also, as much of their documentation will tell you, to analyze and to close the pay gap. And they’ve put their money where their mouth is. They paid out, and it took two rounds of adjusting, the salary adjusting, to be to approach that pay equity. And they’re not done.

As it says here– it is a moving target, especially for growing companies. It’s a never-ending obligation to be monitored and discharged from year to year. Salesforce has lots of documentation online available about this, which is really, really interesting to look at. And again it is an ongoing proper candor in transparency thing is the most important thing in establishing the trust.

Without the trust that people are doing the right thing, it simply won’t work. And get help– this is it takes a village on this. Industry partners, outside experts, and the executive team all can collaborate together. No one company is going to solve this by themselves. I look forward to hearing any question as we move on.

JACKIE MCMAHON: Thank you, Julia. This is Jackie McMahon. I’m thrilled to be able to participate in this discussion today. As Julia touched on a bit, I’ll be talking even further about how we can each take action on an individual level by seeking out mentors, role models, and sponsors throughout our careers, which is a crucial step for women to achieve success, earn leadership roles, and continue pushing for equity. So, an overview of women and mentorship with some surprising information.

A 2013 study by Development Dimensions International DDI– so not as recent as I had hoped but had some really interesting findings from business women from 19 different countries, a number of different industries. They found that 67% of women rate mentorship as highly important in helping to advance and grow their careers. Nearly 80% of women in senior roles had served as formal mentors. However, the shocking gap is that an overwhelming 63% of the women surveyed reported that they’d never had a formal mentor– syndicates a huge development gap that so many women had never had someone that they view as a mentor.

And it’s critical here for growth and achieving those leadership roles. So, we need to think through this gap According to the women who responded in this study, it isn’t because they aren’t willing to mentor. It’s because they’re not being asked. The majority of women, 54%, reported they’ve only been asked to be a mentor a few times in their career or less, while 20% additionally, on top of that, reported they had never been asked to be a mentor. This is problematic, especially as we look at how women are already lagging behind male counterparts and mentoring.

According to other research, men typically tend to seek an offer to mentor much more readily, while women are typically a little bit more reticent. They have to be sought out and encouraged more to be mentors. So, in summary of that previous slide, DDI’s data shows that women are willing to be mentors, but potential mentors aren’t always seeking them out. Moving on to what does mentorship look like?

I have a couple of different forms it can take. It could be formal versus informal. A lot of companies have formalized mentorship programs. I’m very fortunate that Ketchum has a global mentorship program where I have a mentor.

And also, for the first time, I’m now paired with a mentee. But even if your company doesn’t have a formal mentorship program, many organizations do, especially within our industry, as Julia mentioned. Local peer essay chapters often have mentorship programs. I know New York and Chicago and many others do.

But even beyond these formal programs, where you submit an application to be paired with a mentor, a mentor can be a leader or a role model that you reach out to and you ask to be your mentor. Whether that’s someone at your company or even another company within this industry, it’s important to be building those relationships and building your network and your mentors.

Clearly, the data shows women are willing to be mentors, but they may have not been approached. And even more informally than that, they identifying role models inside and outside of your industry, even if they aren’t people who you speak with regularly, that you can see their career path, and maybe find goals for yourself from that. As Karlie Kloss even said, who has developed amazing programs to help young girls learn to code, you can’t be what you can’t see. So, having role models is a good way to identify some of those goals for your own career path and then reaching out when you can.

Another crucial distinction here is mentorship versus sponsorship. I’m referring to both of them broadly within the term of mentorship, but there is a crucial differentiator here. A CNN article clearly defined the difference as mentors or key figures who guide you through the working world. They’re like the rarely seen guardian angels guiding your career and your life along.

Sponsors, on the other hand, play another kind of role. They’re the ones are actively advocating for your next promotion or raise. They pull you up through the ranks of a company or an industry, make sure your name is brought up for opportunities.

This is crucial to have both mentor guidance relationships but also be finding sponsors who can advocate for you As Sylvia Ann Hewlett wrote in her book, “Forget a Mentor, Find a Sponsor,” the easy way to sum that up is mentors advise. Sponsors act. But referring to that just generally within mentorship, it’s impossible to truly achieve the goals that you’re looking for without a mentor or a sponsor. And as it turns out women, on average, have three times as many mentors as men, but men have twice as many sponsors. It seems like women are just not as intentional in their terms in developing these relationships.

So formal or informal, men or women– how do we seek out these mentoring relationships? The first step, which seems simple, is asking. As that study showed, people are willing to mentor but may have not been asked, may have not been approached. So, there is a mentor guide on the Plank Center’s website that provides helpful first steps, suggestions for finding a mentor, links to additional resources. It even contains some template emails that you should definitely customize.

But it can help you get started to even go about asking someone to be your mentor or to meet with you often, whether it’s to seek advice or if you have specific goals in mind. And you can start that relationship with those goals laid out. And like we say in the mentorship guide, do not be discouraged if the first person you reach out to become your mentor is busy. That often happens but just continue trying and seeking out these types of relationships.

Barri Rafferty, the CEO of Ketchum– I reached out to her for a quote, “special for this webinar,” and she said her mentors have taught her to be a little bit tougher, to not let the everyday ups and downs get to her, but to persevere and be a stronger leader as a result. This is very empowering advice from someone who is the first female CEO of a top five global PR firm. And Barri has talked a lot about how mentorship has been critical to her achieving her own success. And in a recent employee meeting, she suggested asking for this type of feedback and relationships with both men and women.

Even as women, we might be prone to seeking out counsel from other women, but men also have really different perspectives and approaches to situations. So, it’s important to seek counsel from both groups. On the other side, why should we be mentors?

I’ve mentioned many men and women are willing to be mentors, but some do have some hesitancy. And the overall impression seems to be that this is a result of time. We’re all so busy, especially in this industry. It seems like it will take up a lot of time. However, the DDS study revealed that of the women who were mentors, only 9% said mentoring takes time away from making progress in their own work.

So, as it turns out, once women make the commitment to being mentors, they find that the time it takes is not a burden to their own work, and it’s truly rewarding. Instead, a lot of studies showed that one of the main reasons that women may be hesitant to become mentors is doing like they have a lack of expertise within this topic area– this number two statistic here of 54% of the women surveyed. But a recent analysis by the Harvard Business Review shows that, especially once people reach the c-suite and these leadership positions, technical expertise matters much less than core leadership skills. And most mentoring relationships, mentees are looking for help with leadership skills, help navigating the business world, especially here in this context of women finding ways to work through workplace issues and navigating some of the experiences we can place in the workplace, having those salary conversations, and working through negotiations, as well as other interpersonal skills and leadership development.

The guidance and sponsorship that can be available through mentoring is critical to help women overcome some of these obstacles, find the support they need, and continue advancing their careers. So, to sum it up, don’t be afraid to ask, seek out mentors, don’t be afraid to reach out to them. And mentors, don’t be afraid to say yes. And now I’ll turn it over to Donnalyn.

DONNALYN POMPPER: Thank you so much. One of the areas that’s been important to me in my own research and in an academic environment is looking at the glass ceiling phenomenon, which we’ve been actually studying since the 1980s. And lately, I and some other important researchers in the public relations academic arena have been looking at how the work-home life balance issue further exacerbates the glass ceiling issue.

Part of this dynamic we cannot overlook the power of the cult of domesticity. And what that means is that women are socialized. Girls are socialized to fulfill a quote “female gender role.”

And historically, women have deferred to their husband’s quote “superior intelligence and physical strength” and that dictated women’s dress code, the way that they behave, the spaces that they think they can occupy, and it creates dissonance among a lot of women who want to break out of that cult of domesticity. To a degree that today, women are told we can do it all, and I think that’s true. But there are some barriers in our way. I want to also emphasize that while that conversation is really important, it’s important to also recognize that often, what we’re talking about is primarily the experiences of Caucasian middle-class white women, and it’s important to recognize that the experiences of women of color are unique. So that’s something that we often overlook in our research.

Women have been slow to ascend. Unlike Barri, that we just heard about, there are so few women in the uppermost positions in the public relations arena. And often, women are told that there are all kinds of things wrong with them, which I’ll get to in a quick second. But we know from our academic research that working the second shift, working at home in a non-paid environment is only one variable.

Public relations is attractive to so many men and women because it’s perceived as being a flexible family-friendly feel because you don’t necessarily have to be glued to your desk 9:00 to 5:00. You can be away from your desk, out in the field, working on behalf of your organization and your clients. And that means that sometimes you can navigate some barriers that other folks in other fields experience, and that’s a good thing.

There’s also the lure of a feminized field. Our students, who are with us in public relations programs across the US and globally, actually– they like the idea that this field is dominated by women. They see that there are women who look just like them doing this kind of work.

The problem is women tend to only progress so far, and then they encounter that glass ceiling that I mentioned a moment ago. These are the women who are working very hard, have developed their skills to the degree that they’re ready to break through that glass ceiling, that they’re experiencing a lot of dissonance because they’re trying to be perfect– perfect at work, perfect at home, and they’re trying to have a perfect body. And as we all know, spending time at the gym and bicycling and working outside takes a lot of time, and that time that when we’re in a crunch position, we take away from ourselves and get to our workplace or our non-paid work-home environment.

We also know from our previous speakers n that men still out-earn women, and they advance more quickly in the field. And we find that highly frustrating, and that significantly contributes to women’s slow ascent on the management ladder in organizations. For decades, women have been told it’s your fault. We call this victim blaming.

Women are told, “you’re just too nice.” And Cheryl tells us we need to lean in. In other words, it’s our fault for not advancing as far as we want to in organizations.

We’re told, you need to get more business experience. You need to get more finance experience. You need to take more leadership workshops. You need to get a mentor.

You need to develop networks so they could help you to navigate. And often women, especially those with children and families at home with their own children or their extended family, their parents, or their husband’s parents, when they need to leave some to take care of some of those issues, their commitment is questioned in organizations. And as we all know, that’s quite unfair.

Ironically, these issues are not new. Simone de Beauvoir in 1949 recognized this. She said, quote “one is not born but rather becomes a woman. No biological, psychological, or economic state determines the figure that human female represents in society. It is a civilization as a whole that produces this creature.”

The good news is in public relations, we have lots of studies to help us to navigate this issue. And in particular, there’s plenty of work that suggests that the work-life balance is not necessarily a woman’s issue, but that’s how it’s framed. And there are many of us who are working against that kind of orientation. We know that there are key factors that offer degrees of organizational support.

There are issues that we need to look at. There are career path interruptions, such as women when women take maternity leave, lots of gender issues associated with the work-home life balance issue. Often, women are the primary caregivers in their families, and this extends not only to their immediate family but also to taking care of their parents.

And in some cultures, taking care of their partner or husband’s parents. That is further exacerbated by– particularly in the US– we live in what we call a workaholic culture. And I suspect that’s why coffee shops are so important because we’re always looking for some caffeine to help us get some new energy to just get through the day.

There’s one study that suggests that our PRSSA students tell us that they expect it to be hard as a woman working in public relations. They expect this kind of conflict. That rests with me very uneasily.

We also know from our research in public relations that a negative work environment increases conflict. Whereas professional support decreases conflict. So, hats off to the Plank Center, PRSA, and other organizations that are helping women and men to navigate these important challenges.

In my own work produced with Dr. Young in 2013, we conducted a survey among public relations, communication management, and other professionals in advertising and marketing. We discovered results to our first hypothesis. Communication career workers report dissatisfaction with their communication, career-home life balance. This hypothesis was partially supported. In fact, we found that about 81% of the respondents to our survey work in excess of 41 hours a week.

So, these are people who are in the trenches and can report honestly about their own experiences with career-home life balance 57 percent of them consider themselves to be the household breadwinner in their homes. And nearly 43% of them are satisfied, and 36% of them are unsatisfied with the career-home life balance. In fact, 40% have actually considered leaving the field because it’s just too hard to balance their paid work outside the home with their non-paid work inside the home.

Our second hypothesis was female to work in a communication career expressed higher degrees of dissatisfaction with communication career-home life balance than their male counterparts. Interestingly, this was not supported. Even though women reported being more likely than men to consider leaving their communication career due to these challenges, the degree is not statistically significant. So, what this means is it’s not just a women’s issue. The balance issue is an issue for everyone working in public relations.

Our third hypothesis– communication career workers in a for-profit setting expressed higher degrees of dissatisfaction with communication career-home life balance than their nonprofit counterparts. This was not supported. So, we’re sharing the wealth here. Everyone is experiencing challenges associated with home-life balance.

Our fourth hypothesis– communication career workers with families don’t rely on their spouse or significant other to perform more domestic responsibilities. This was supported, and we suggest that the spouse or the significant other is just not helping out around the house. Or conversely, our respondents for this particular survey collection– they think they can just do it all, and they’re not even asking for help. And that’s problematic as well.

Our fifth hypothesis that communications career workers perceive that women with children tend to experience fewer career growth opportunities than their colleagues who don’t have children. This was absolutely supported, and there was no gender difference. Everyone agrees that this is a problem.

Our eighth hypothesis– and this has an opportunity for us to collect some qualitative feedback– communications career workers report a permeable border between work at the office and work at home. What we discovered is that while we love our technology, we love our handheld devices, our computers, our phones, our iPhones, et cetera, we love all of that. But what it does is it create a permeable border, rather than a solid line border between our work at home, at the office. And we have discovered from the quantitative responses that our respondents said things like, yeah, I take work home, and I do it at home.

The numbers there– how often they do that. And then at home, they’re talking about work. And then at work, they’re talking about home in ways that probably we’ve never done before because of our technology and devices.

So, what does it all mean? What can we do? These are some action items to help maintain good communication career-home life balance.

Number one, collegiality– I’m very concerned about the experiences of women who tell me that those with children are perceived by colleagues that don’t have children as being slackers. And their colleagues then feel that they have to pick up the slack and the Mommy Wars– a popular culture phenomenon a few years ago– told us all about this. And I think what we need to do is stress within the workplace how important it is to support one another. So that’s very important to make everyone feel comfortable that there are differences among us in terms of work-home life balance.

We also look forward to organizations being more flexible in terms of an actual boss and with the schedules that our public relations practitioners work. We also need to make sure our colleagues are able to work from home but also have organizations that understand that sometimes it’s just necessary to turn off the devices so that our public relations colleagues can enjoy their home life. It’s very important to maintaining balance. So, establishing those parameters is exceptionally important.

I also think it’s important that organizations really step it up in terms of creating on-site daycare at work. This is something that’s been given a lot of lip service since the 1980s. And yes, some organizations are moving forward with it but in my view, not enough. And then overall, we need a workplace culture that’s very supportive of people who have families at home, whether it be children or parents or in-laws because putting guilt on our colleagues is not the way to help one another to advance, and it’s certainly not the way to help organizations to meet their goals.

BRIAN PRICE: OK, this is Brian. I’m going to jump in and shift the focus to men for a few minutes here and what men can do in today’s environment and also what women can expect from their male colleagues. So, we can go down to the next slide. I want to talk about millennial men specifically at first. And to do that, I want to actually make sure that we’re all defining the term “millennials” the same way because I think there is a chance that millennials are older than you might think.

You hear a lot about this generation– millennials this, millennials changing that– that type of thing. And maybe what comes to mind is high school or college students or maybe just some really, really first year out of college type of colleagues in the organizations. But really, when we say millennials and when millennials are surveyed, it’s really more like the entire entry-level professionals all the way through 38-year-olds with significant experience, management responsibilities and in some cases, pretty significant organizational influence. So, I want to talk about that through that lens– the role that millennial men can have and the glass ceiling.

What I found really interesting in doing some research for this was that millennial men and women actually have a lot of shared values– more so than past generations by a significant margin. We look at both millennial men and women rating diversity of race and gender very highly to produce great work. We look at both valuing inclusion– both socially and professionally– to create a very positive work culture.

It definitely maybe even a millennial stereotype that certainly seems to live up to it by a lot of feedback that I’ve heard– a hunger for opportunity to show growth and the ability for advancement but also wanting the flexibility of work schedules– the idea that certain days you can work from home or I can come in late certain days or leave early for a couple of hours and then work later at night, if I prefer this or that. These are all things that both men and women of this generation value. Many of those– I think that, as we’ve talked in our discussion tonight, similar to what women have always been asking for. So, there’s a lot more people asking for the same type of flexibility, the same kind of opportunity, the same kind of inclusion, as you see millennials making up 40% of the workforce but climbing to 75% in ’10 years– that’s quite a bit.

When we look at obstacles and challenges faced inside organizations, we also see a lot of overlap between millennial men and millennial women too. This chart shows retention, which is often the key measure of a company’s culture, opportunities given all employees, work-life balance– really it’s crucial issues like that that are often tied to retention. We see here it’s a key issue for most women and most millennial men that we can align on that. However, you juxtapose that with men over 40, who are going to value– not to say that they don’t value retention– but when we force them to select in an order of things 1 through 10, retention barely cracks the top 5 on average.

So, I look at this as another way that we can demonstrate how millennial men and for the most part, all women are aligning on a topic and showing that this is very important. You can go on to the next slide. It’s got a similar chart. And I want to take some more time actually here to really just let this concept of shared thinking and partnership sink it.

For me, personally, child care is something that I know I will really value someday, and I would place family leave, family time, childcare assistance, and as was recently mentioned, I would rate that significant if it was something that was provided or had some assistance through my work and through my office building. That would be huge for me when I have a family. Women rate that, millennial men similar to me are all saying that.

I’m a millennial male. I’m saying it. I think that it’s just not something that was thought of by men 40 and older coming from a different environment. But now, we’re sort of saying the same things here.

And it’s showing up and its survey data. And it’s showing up in and organizations and how they’re evolving to treat their employees. So why I say that is because it’s more than just a women’s issue right now.

Adapting to what me and my fellow panelists have said today that we all talked about. It isn’t going to be an option for companies looking to stand out. Adapting to this culture is going to be necessary to attract and maintain top talent. I want to just take a couple more moments to look at how this actually happened and maybe some rationale as why this came to be and how this ally in millennial males came to happen.

Looking at a study from a few years ago and it’s three statistics here. This is not the full story, but I did want to call out a few key items on how women found such a strong ally in millennial men. 46% of millennials reported their mother returned to work before they were three years old– double from the baby boomer generation. Still significantly more than that Generation X in between the two.

It’s something that a lot of people either millennials– when they were children they had both parents working. Or if they didn’t, odds are one of their friends did. So, it was common. It was just kind of just the way it was.

Look at nearly half of millennials said that their mothers earn the same or similar wages as their father. Now maybe not everybody knows what wages, their parents make, but the fact that they assumed, even if they didn’t know, that, yeah, of course, they’d be similar. That’s the way it should be. I think that’s really interesting.

And then those who were aware were reporting it as well. So, you’re seeing a lot of this just feeling like it’s the way it’s supposed to be for millennials. And then when it comes to diversity issues, I think we inherently understand the why and why is this important? It is because that’s the way it’s supposed to be. And for the most part, you should see millennials being able to get that pretty easily and gender equality being a crucial aspect in that campaign.

So, we can go down to my last slide. And stepping out of just millennial males specifically and going to all males. I think a huge takeaway for all men is similar to what Jackie talked about a lot earlier in the presentation on the importance of mentorship.

Today’s environment should be an invitation to engage. It should not be an excuse to look at me too, times up movements and say this is this isn’t for me. I’m going to retreat. I’m going to take this opportunity to say it’s not natural.

I’d rather not withdraw completely. That really would exacerbate a problem that exists. So now is a fantastic opportunity to fermented help all colleagues, especially female colleagues, develop professionally. Otherwise, we’re not playing a role. That’s really a big part of how I feel about it.

So, the simple takeaway is that company in departmental level leadership should be encouraging men to be mentors and resources for growth. And on top of that, men should be reaching out to their female colleagues. That means more invitations to meetings, invitations to coffee or lunch. But to do so company by concrete remarks to potential mentees’ work performance.

And when it’s wrapped into that, it should be very, very respectful, very organic. Maybe it’s just one meeting, maybe it’s something that starts a long-term mentorship or sponsorship, as Jackie had mentioned earlier. Though when it comes through work about work and helping someone develop professionally, there should be no issues between men and women in a mentor-mentee relationship. So, I wanted to call that out and just simply touch on some of the issues that millennial males are facing and working through, wanting some similar desires as female colleagues, and also what men of all ages can do to support women and discuss.

LEAH SEAY: Thanks, Brian, for that. Hey, everyone, again, this is Leah. Just last, quickly before we go into the Q&A portion, just going to go over some of the key takeaways from this webinar. And when I look at this list of four bullet points initially, I think one of the things that I love about it most is that some of these bullet points really highlight some of the GM behaviors that we have here General Motors about being bold or we have a behavior that says it’s on me, and it talks about accountability.

So, I love that some of these bullet points initially just stand out to me as action items and things that I knew I can initially do to work on to help improve some of these challenges that any organization could face. When looking at some of these key takeaways, pay equity is a process that is an ongoing process that requires direct engagement with employees and industry association. So, I think you all pretty much got the picture over the course of the presentation, but these are challenges that everyone on every level can address.

It’s not just women. It can be men. But there are a variety of people at a variety of different levels that can really take action to help make positive change.

The second key takeaway– don’t be afraid. Seek out mentors and opportunities to be a mentor. I think one of the things I like most about this bullet point is that it says mentors with an S and not just mentor. I get questions frequently from folks who say, if I just have one mentor, is that OK?

And I encourage folks to have multiple mentors. I know personally, in my life, I have a lot of folks that mentor me in a variety of different areas who all had different skillsets and different types of wisdom to impart on me. So, I would encourage you all to make sure that in addition to mentoring others, that you’re seeking out multiple mentors.

That third key takeaway is holding organizations accountable and valuing employees. And then the last one is just millennial women and men have similar work attitudes regarding diversity, inclusion, opportunity, and flexibility, which should improve the gender gap, as they become more representative of the workforce. So now that we’ve kind of discussed some of those key takeaways and started to wrap up the conversation, this is now the part of the discussion that’s my favorite part personally because we get to hear from you guys as audience members.

So, if you would, use your question and answer box at the bottom of the screen and also feel free to use Twitter using hashtag #PlankWebinar as the hashtag. We’ve already started to hear from some of you guys. So, feel free to use that chat box, as well as the #PlankWebinar hashtag to go and ask some of those questions. So, I’ll ask the first question, and you guys, as panelists, can just answer the questions over however you choose to. And then we’ll start asking them questions from the audience.

So, my first question to you all is I guess initially to tag on to what Brian was discussing. What do you guys think are some additional things that men can do to support and empower equality for women in the workplace? Equality for all but obviously for women as well. And anybody can jump in.

JULIA HOOD: This is Julia. I can start. And I really appreciated the perspective about the millennial generation and moving into these leadership roles and how they’ll foster more openness and more like-minded goals. So, I do think those points were extremely well made, and I think men need to continue to be very active in attribution and be very, very mindful in meetings about the things that send messages to people about their place in the conversation, their place in the discussion. Those are significant.

And when someone is interrupted– and sometimes it’s a hierarchy thing too. But sometimes, people are not mindful. And if somebody is interrupted to redirect the point back to the person who was interrupted– if someone is kind of advancing an idea, make sure that they’re heard.

Be very, very attentive to those small points that happen in the day-to-day interactions that make people feel that they’re not being well represented within the group. And I think it takes work to do that. So, you have to be very, very mindful of the interactions in the office.

LEAH SEAY: That’s great. OK, moving on to our next question. We have a question on Twitter that says, what does mentorship look like? Well, can you guys elaborate on that a little more?

DONNALYN POMPPER: This is Donnalyn. Yes, I can elaborate on that. Mentorships has many looks, many faces, many, many, forms. I have served as a mentor for a number of years, and I have been mentored for a number of years. Mentoring can range from just being someone who listens when some person has a problem to actually helping a person navigate their career in terms of coming up with a strategic plan.

I have mentors who for many years have just reached out and said hello to those who have called me crying because they’re having a terrible time at work, and I’m not sure how to navigate something. And I’ve probably been less amenable than some of my younger colleagues that in asking for help myself. So, I know that that can be very hard.

And I heard that in our talk earlier today. And my advice to everyone is to just don’t be afraid to ask for help because chances are you’re going to be helping the person who’s helping you too. It will make them feel good, and they’re glad to pass along any advice based on their experiences that they’ve had.

BRIAN PRICE: That’s a great answer. I want to chime in on that with something from my experience because I’ve had a lot of people mentor me. Over time, some of them have stayed. Some of them haven’t.

So, a simple way that I like to look at who is a mentor to me and if I don’t feel like I’m comfortable calling or emailing them out of the blue and saying, hey, it’s me, it’s Brian, I could use some help with this particular situation. If I don’t feel comfortable doing that, then maybe they’re not my mentor anymore. And that’s OK that they were in 2013, and they’re not now.

You have hopefully, over time, multiple mentors. You could just look at your situation and say, OK, I’m in this spot at work. I need help. And the best person to help me is someone who has corporate communication experience and has done a lot of media relations work. OK, who do I know that could help me in this situation? And maybe it’s not someone you said, hey, you’re my mentor or will you mentor me? But it’s someone who has lent a hand or who has given you an offer.

Hey, I’m available any time. Well, now is the time. I know you come with your unique experience now. And if you’re comfortable reaching out, then it’s someone who could be a mentor to you– whether it’s just this one situation or to start and develop a longer-term partnership.

LEAH SEAY: All right, another question that we received really talked about how to be a change agent. So, if you guys can touch on that, that would be wonderful. But the question referred to someone who might be aware that change needs to take place, and they’d like to know how they can begin to be that change agent and begin to help create a different culture, and that’s more inclusive within their organization.

JULIA HOOD: This is Julia. I think if you are thinking about change the organization, it’s very important to start locally, meaning with your own team and your own interactions. So, if you are in the position of managing others, then really dealing with your own particular community and cohort within the organization first. And if you are being managed by others, then being very, very purposeful and articulate about the types of things that will give you a more enriching leadership experience because a lot of leaders want to do better, but they don’t necessarily have the roadmap for every single individual. And individuals often need different things.

So, it’s really a two-way street. So, whether you’re in the position of managing others or being managed by others, it’s about sitting down, having a dialogue about what are the objectives for the group and how are we going to best meet them? And that works for either dynamic. But it really starts on that local level and then demonstrating success based on very achievable things within that group in the work that you’re doing.

So, if you’re looking to make change, look to make change– and it may be down to who can we get to lead a project? Are we using the same people? Are we bringing new thinking into our planning? Are we relying on the same systems?

Have we opened up decision making to different types of people? Or are we relying on the same leadership decision making structure?

And that can be on very, very small tactical things that start to open up people thinking differently about the ways that they’re conducting the objectives for the business but also just the tasks of the department itself. So, it starts locally. It really is on a bigger scale. Every CEO has to start with their own leadership team. No company that can affect change all at once.

LEAH SEAY: All right, and then the last question we have is for all of the panelists. If you can leave audience members with one parting thought about women in leadership in the public relations industry, what would it be?

BRIAN PRICE: I’ll go first.

DONNALYN POMPPER: This is Donnalyn. That’s a very excellent question.

BRIAN PRICE: Oops, sorry.


BRIAN PRICE: OK, I’ll just jump in by saying I covered a lot in the presentation, but I think it’s really important that everybody in this position has a ton of allies in millennial males at the office. So, start thinking about how maybe it can be positioned as something that’s beneficial for all employees under 40 because we want the same things– or at least a lot of them.

DONNALYN POMPPER: I think you’re on to something there. This is Donnalyn. My parting comment is one of inviting public relations practitioners, professionals, to be insider activists within their organization. And sometimes, if it begins with the millennials, that’s great to persuade other members of the management team to jump on board with enabling people to achieve their maximum potential.

In my view, that’s showing social responsibility, and it’s so simple. Take someone to lunch, let someone speak at a meeting, listen to their ideas, invite someone whom you wouldn’t ordinarily have on your campaign or your team to participate. It’s so easy, and it makes organizations stronger, richer, more profitable, use the business case if that’s what necessary. But act as an insider activist to make just those small things happen. And before you know it, the larger changes will follow in course.

JACKIE MCMAHON: Yeah, so this is Jackie. Just want to build on that because we are at such a critical point right now in our society and our world and our industry, specifically. So, let’s just all think about what we can do to make the most of that and continue these conversations beyond the Women’s International Day or Equality Day and making sure that we’re continuing to push for progress.

JULIA HOOD: And this is Julia. I would echo that as well and as well as a bit of a rallying cry. We’re in a really interesting inflection point culturally. This is a time to take advantage of the focus on these issues.

I don’t remember any time in my life– and I am a Gen Xer– to when there has been such a convergence around the themes. So, this is the time to get serious and take action if there ever was in my lifetime. Now is the time, and I hope we’ve inspired some people to try some new things.

LEAH SEAY: Wonderful. Well, everyone, thank you so much for choosing to spend your time with the Plank Center and asking much-needed and important questions about women in leadership and public relations. And I’d also like to say a special thank you to our panelists who were incredible and added much-needed insight to this conversation.

And to feel free to note, everyone, that this webinar is getting archived, just as all webinars are. Ours are archived on the Plank Center’s website. So, feel free to go back to it at a later time and share it with your colleagues and friends. So, thank you all so much again and we hope you have a wonderful day.

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