Results reveal that flexibility is now an accepted part of working life and the Covid pandemic has dramatically changed the way we work, but little has changed in creating a more balanced boardroom.

Designed to track and measure the position of women working in the PR and Communications industry globally, the 2021 Index developed in partnership with strategic insight agency Opinium, revealed that progress towards equality had in fact slowed and the drive to encourage more female leaders had stalled.

What are the top barriers that are preventing women from progressing into senior positions?

The biggest barrier continues to be childcare or caring responsibilities, followed by a lack of flexible working or family-friendly policies and the lack of work-life balance in a senior role.

What were the drivers that could help more women working in PR and Communications take on senior roles?

Remote working was felt to be the most important benefit by 57% of PR professionals - ahead of financial reward. 73% said they would be more likely to choose a job that offered flexible working over one that did not (up from 69% in 2020).

The research also revealed that 91% of PR professionals are currently working flexibly and most believe that post-pandemic hybrid working will continue

The 2020 Annual Index also revealed that PR professionals working in-house were more likely to have taken time off work because of stress, compared to their agency counterparts. In 2021 that gap has closed completely, but the numbers have increased.

Juggling childcare responsibilities, domestic duties and a busy workload during the pandemic, means many women have experienced burn out. Only half of PR professionals currently claim to have a good work-life balance. A third of respondents were not offered any mental health support initiatives by their organisations.
When it comes to promotion half (51%) of PR professionals feel mothers are promoted more slowly, compared to just 4% of fathers.

Over four-fifths of PR professionals believe that having women in the boardroom helps improve both the productivity and the creativity of the company. These figures have both increased since the start of the research three years ago. 82% believe that having women in the boardroom can help improve company working practices, with 81% believing that having women on boards clears barriers to promotion for other women.

Many believe there is also a lack of transparency, which creates a barrier for women attaining more senior roles, with women tending to be less proactive than men when it comes to asking for a promotion.

Other initiatives to help women’s career progression are mentoring schemes, more senior recognition of the issues around gender inequality and training opportunities.

Commenting on these findings Angela Oakes, Joint President and Co-Founder of GWPR said, “With the changes to more flexible working practices being brought about by Covid and a real recognition by businesses that women, and a truly diverse workforce, really do make a difference to the profitability of a company, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

We hope that our 2022 Annual Index will show that the dial has moved to a better place for all of us in our industry, which still remains two-thirds female.”

For a copy of the 2021 Annual Index please go to: