In a world where change has become constant, so too has the journey of women. As we approach Women’s Equality Day on August 26, a day which commemorates the hard-won triumphs of the suffrage movement in the United States, it’s evident that the workplace, much like the broader landscape, has shifted. The traditional confines that once restricted women’s professional aspirations have gradually given way to more inclusive structures, where glass ceilings are being shattered and gender-based biases challenged. As industries diversify and leadership roles become more accessible, the narrative of women at work harmonizes with the broader theme of change and progress we celebrate on this significant day.
The world of communications has also shifted. I asked my colleagues a series of questions about women in the workplace. Here is what they had to say. (Responses have been edited for clarity or brevity.)
Over the course of your career, how has gender and feminism played into communications and public relations? How has the last three years shaped how you look at it both personally and professionally?
The workplace environment has improved significantly for women during my career in terms of there being more opportunities for women, laws against discrimination and harassment to help protect them, and a focus on work/life balance.
In my first job out of graduate school, I questioned why a newer, less experienced colleague was being promoted and I wasn’t. I was told by the male director of the organization that my colleague needed to provide for his family whereas I had a husband to support me. I can’t even imagine this scenario playing out today. We still have a way to go however to level the gender playing field and eliminating the wage gap and electing more women into office are at the top of the list.
The pandemic, as horrific as it was, served as the “Great Workplace Experiment” in that it gave us the opportunity to demonstrate that we could work remotely and be productive, and that flexibility in the workplace can work. We wouldn’t have the flexibility we have today had the pandemic not occurred. The pandemic also helped us focus on our personal priorities and how we want to balance them with work.
Communication is ever evolving. How do you counsel clients on the changing language as it pertains to gender? What shifts do you see evolving?
I think it’s important to keep up-to-date and current with what’s happening around us and being flexible and adaptable in our communications, internally as a company and externally with clients, new potential clients, talent, and more. I recommend keeping language as neutral as possible when it comes to gender. Additionally, I remind clients that we are here to provide counsel as a trusted partner on these topics as communications continue to evolve.
One of our clients pays very close attention to this and seems to be at the forefront. For example, they steer clear of assuming that all people who are pregnant identify as women and avoid the generalization “pregnant women.”
How have you or the company benefited from working alongside the women at Taft? What advice can you give to others to be an ally at their company/to their employees? (Male identifying employees)
One benefit is looking around Taft and being in a gender minority for probably the first time in my professional career. Just to have even a passing thought about what that feels like is a good first step to opening my eyes to the experiences of others.
What advice would you give to women who are entering the professional space — specifically the PR/communications field — in the post-pandemic world? (Female identifying employees)
Be conscientious, open to constructive feedback, listen and observe and this will build trust and help you build your reputation with your colleagues.
Always give 110% and your efforts will be rewarded.
Stay true to who you are, ask questions, and treat people the way you want to be treated.
In terms of finding a position in comms, I’d recommend that women look for the one that is most consistent with their work/life philosophy. Finding the right job match will give them the most satisfaction. I’d also suggest that they bring their most empathetic selves to work every day. Understanding our colleagues, respecting them, and being open to differences is critical to creating harmony in the workplace.
As workplaces and communications continue to evolve, progress and change weave a tapestry of empowerment. Women’s Equality Day recognizes strides in breaking barriers. The insights from my colleagues highlight staying in tune with evolving gender language, advocating equity, and fostering allyship. Looking forward to a post-pandemic era, we embrace forging an equitable future where every voice resonates. This Women’s Equality Day, Taft celebrates the journey of women, embodying the transformation and possibility that defines our world.