Why PR Can Benefit from More Female Leaders
The news isn’t new: the majority of leadership and senior positions in the workplace are held by men. True, women have made strides towards equality in the workforce in the past decades. It’s also true that there are many fields that are dominated by women. However, even in fields where the workforce is predominantly feminine–PR, for example–the top positions are still male-dominated.
While every leader will have his or her own unique strengths, there is the tendency for certain skills to fall more frequently on one side of the gender line. For example, male leaders may be more open to taking risks and female leaders may show greater interpersonal intuition. Unfortunately, when gender equality is not found at the senior level, that means that companies, staffs, and clients may be missing out on the benefits of stereotypically feminine strengths.
For the field of PR in particular, the strengths female leaders can bring to the table would be particularly beneficial. To get a better idea of what the field is missing, let’s take a look at a few of those strengths and skills.
Women are, in general, predisposed to be better listeners. This ability in turn allows them to develop and display greater empathy. Women in leadership positions are often better able to see and understand a client or staff member’s needs because they are willing to take the time and truly listen to what that individual has to say. LinkedIn’s VP of corporate communications, Shannon Stubo, consistently displays this skill, showcasing a great memory for conversations and never forgetting a significant date or event.
Make New Connections
Women tend to be social butterflies. While that term may sometimes be used as a joke or put down, it’s actually an indicator of a huge strength of female leaders. A social disposition pushes and enables female leaders to not only make but also maintain a plethora of new connections and relationships. In the PR world, if you’re not connecting, you’re not succeeding. Julie Hamp, CCO of Toyota North America, has proven successful largely due to her skill at building a global network of loyal connections.
Stay Cutting Edge
Female leaders are also adept at staying on top of current events and trends. As such, they’re often able to bring new ideas to strategy sessions. This finger-on-the-pulse skill also enables them to implement cutting edge strategies and technologies on behalf of their clients. Marian Salzman, CEO of Havas PR North America, built her career on the back of this skill. Salzman co-founded the first online market research company roughly two decades ago, and has stayed current–if not ahead–of trends ever since, making her an extremely valuable leader and resource.
Ladies in leadership are less likely to try the lone-wolf approach and are more likely to invest in a collaborative group. This social tendency towards group efforts is more than a silly gender stereotype. Ever heard the saying, “the whole is worth more than the sum of its parts”? Female leaders know that pooling the strengths of multiple individuals will get you much farther than simply working alone. Alison Brod, founder of Alison Brod Public Relations, desires her legacy to be that of mentorship and collaboration.
Seek a Balanced Future
Money is important in the business world, but it isn’t the only indicator or contribution to success. Female leaders are more likely to focus on the bigger picture: a picture that includes more than simply monetary profit. Women in leadership often invest more in creating a positive workplace, striving for work/life balance, and seeking success outside of the rigid black-and-whites of profits and margins. Maggie FitzPatrick, CCO and VP at Johnson & Johnson, has worked hard to promote the success of Care with Pride, an anti-bullying collaboration with PFLAG.
Again, while these traits may also be found among male leaders, they tend to fall more frequently on the feminine side of the divide. The success of the female PR powerhouses mentioned above proves the importance of these traits at a leadership level. While gender equality in leadership is an important issue in and of itself, these examples and traits are proof that fields such as PR are greatly missing out due to the lack of women in leadership. It is clear that companies and clients alike will benefit from an increase of female leaders; let us hope that those benefits begin to have an effect on the hiring process.
Featured Image: Sam Churchill