How encouraging that Aarti Shah's piece "Why Aren't There More Female CEOs In PR?" was the most popular long read on the Holmes Report in 2015. It's a great article and I hope its popularity is also a sign that this issue is finally getting the attention it deserves.
The UK's new shared parental leave rules introduced in April 2015 were a big step forward. This followed the success of the model in Scandinavia. It took a while to get started. Even in Sweden, Dad's took time to adjust to the idea. But after four years, close to 90% of Swedish fathers were taking an average of seven weeks paternity leave. Anecdotal evidence suggests that UK PR firms are welcoming the change. Let's hope it will become the norm in due course.
But many of the world's largest agencies are headquartered in the US, and so must battle against the notoriously stingy US maternity leave rules. I applaud H&K Strategies US move last year to lead the drive to decent maternity leaves. My ex-colleague Mike Coates is their US CEO. I've long known him as an early adopter of creative talent policies. You can read more here in his blog.
Aarti's comprehensive article is a good primer. She looks beyond maternity leave topics to behaviour and unconscious bias. She talks in particular about the need to shift focus to improve gender balance in agency leadership teams. Weber lead the pack with women taking two thirds of their leadership team seats. It's so important to get women 'in the room - making decisions' as Edelman's Gail Becker says in the article. This is key to encouraging those women to want the top job. If they're kept outside, they are far less likely to stick around. I agree with Tim Dyson whom she quotes saying;
“The glass ceiling doesn’t exist at the CEO level — it’s below that. There is an industry-wide issue of great talent not being recognized and that tends to happen around the VP-level. Women will notice it’s an all boys network at the top or there is a feeling they can’t control the work-life balance so often they will start their own agencies.”Thank you Aarti for giving us all so much to think about. I hope we see more on this topic - with more women making it to the top table - in 2016.