There’s a lot of discussion and media attention given to gender equality in the workplace and having more woman in C-suite level roles. However, with this media pressure, could this run the risk of companies promoting or hiring people based on whether someone is a woman, as opposed to whether someone is best for the job?
It’s not the media responsibility to hire people, argued Ava Lawler, managing director at PR agency Weber Shandwick and director of IPG’s Women Leadership Network at Weber Shandwick.
The PR agency has recently conducted a study about gender equality in the workplace, particularly on C-suite level roles.
“I think it’s important that we trust CEOs in making the best business leaders and making the best decisions for the business,” said Lawler.
“That’s a business decision. It’s not the media’s responsibility to make those hiring decisions. I think that the media has a very important role to play in highlighting the societal and economic issues that need to be taken under consideration.”
What is very clear from the study, said Lawler, is that the media has played a very key role in ensuring gender equality is more at the forefront than it has ever been before.
“I think the role of the media is to pick up the trends, the issues, that are impacting on society and impacting on our economy in general,” she added.
Executive creative director at Campaign Edge, Dee Madigan, recently took aim at various conferences who did not have an equal number of female and male speakers, saying it was “absurd”.
“When many women are in high up positions, and these conferences don’t reflect that, we’re only hearing male voices,” she told B&T.
While lambasting the conferences, one Twitter user questioned Madigan, wondering whether people pay for chromosome over content. Madigan said companies can find great content with either chromosome.
— DeeMadigan (@deemadigan) October 19, 2015
However, is there pressure from the media for brands to prioritise gender equality?
“I definitely feel that the pressure is improving,” said Weber Shandwick’s Lawler, “so certainly here in Australia we have more legislative requirements to be reporting on the gender split within workforces.
“We’re certainly seeing a lot more organisations reporting on their balance, and I think that that is encouraging that behaviour for other organisations.”
Gender equality in business is not just having women in the C-suite though. Lawler said it’s about having a “fairly even split of genders within all levels of the organisation”.
“That there is a demonstrated equal opportunity for women to build a career and also that there is equality in pay.”
Without naming names, Lawler said we have to look to some of the gender pioneering companies out there at the moment, look at what they’re doing and take inspiration from their initiatives.