International Women’s Day 2020 – 8 March

Another International Women’s Day and another opportunity to ask ‘how far have we come with gender balance?’.

Do we still need an International Women’s Day? Sadly, yes.

I work in public relations which has the oddest imbalance. On one hand, you have an industry predominantly female-led, but when you look at the top jobs and top salaries, they are dominated by men.

CIPR’s 2019 State of the Profession survey showed that two thirds (67%) of the industry identify as female. However, that same survey showed that women in public relations are still paid less than men for the same work, with a gender pay gap of £5,202.

I read an interesting email this morning from Sarah at No Bull Business School (I love that name!), which went on to talk about why many of us start our own businesses or become freelance, and the reality is, I like to manage my own time and decide how to spend it. It’s not a lifestyle business. It’s bloomin’ hard work and can be really rewarding, but it can be equally as trying. Like just now, when clients don’t want to spend their budgets because of Coronavirus, as no-one knows what’s round the corner.

But coming back to my time, I love being able to get my nails done when I want, work from the hairdresser one afternoon a month, take my dog to the park in a lovely summer’s afternoon, take a half day to go and cheer up my Mum… It’s my time and it’s my business, but by having the flexibility to do this, it allows me to balance my work and my life. It allows me time to sort the house, making a nice meal, do the housework during the week. I can do what I want. As long as I get my work done and my clients are happy, then what’s wrong with that?

But there is another question in there. Why do I need to work for myself to do that? Why won’t businesses allow a better balance?

Sarah from No Bull Business School says:

It seems to me most women (I’m not saying all) want different things. We want things that feel good to us. We want a business that provides a better life for us and our family. We want freedom. We want to work around school pick-ups, home workouts, our dogs or getting a manicure. I mean, yeah, you can roll your eyes at this part and go ‘what a fucking cliché’ but let’s be real… it’s true. We want a business that allows us to work in bed during our period because it’s a f***ing S**t time. We want a business that allows us to visit our elderly grandparents during their last days. We want to take our girls on an all expenses holiday, and a business that feels kind and cosy and peaceful, not watch-your-back aggressive.

You see, this patriarchal notion of business has infiltrated us so deeply that I wonder if we just innately believe that’s what ‘good business’ is. But it’s not. It’s just it’s the only version of business we’ve ever known. And it doesn’t benefit women at all.
Because building a business that works for you and only you, that doesn’t have aims of being the next VC backed Unicorn is ok.

Over the last few years I have noticed a large number of women starting businesses and I’ve noticed a younger generation (in PR) be more vocal, confident in their opinions and they go on to get solid jobs. I’ve been excited by all of this. I’m thankful that I can help start-ups, I can help younger women, and that the same unhelpful and jealous older generation of women are no longer around to try and tear us down.

 When I went to the Girl Boss Rally in New York, met some amazing women, and came away hugely inspired!

Sarah went onto say:

I believe we are on the cusp of a new frontier. One where what was once seen as the ‘touchy-feely’, girly parts of business are not only included but recognised and even applauded.
A new frontier where businesses help each other out and lift each other up instead of spending an eternity constantly trying to push each other down for the sake of winning. Where instead of being laughed at for making a decision based on a tarot card reading, you’ll instead ask me what deck I used, and could I pull a card for you too?
So I have a huge amount of hope. I know and respect so many women running businesses, taking board positions and being awesome humans and friends at the same time. Things are changing, maybe not quickly enough, but they are going in the right direction.
We can all help by playing our part. For me, I’m a volunteer mentor for the new CIPR scheme (which I developed!) and I hope a newbie PR firestarter reaches out to me. I’m here and ready!

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