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Instead of ‘mansplaining’ it away, lets actively embrace a diverse working culture

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I must admit, I approached this article to mark International Women’s Day with some trepidation. As a pale, male – but hopefully not yet quite stale – member of the Active Profile team, I was conscious of becoming just another ‘mansplainer’ (although I’ll let you judge for yourself once you’ve read this). The truth is though, that my industry – the Public Relations or ‘PR’ industry – has been largely built, shaped and driven forward by females for decades.

At last count (in about 2018), the PR industry was predominantly female, with 67% of the workforce identifying as such. Even from my own experience, out of the five agencies I’ve worked for, four of them have been headed up by teams of women – current agency included. However, this isn’t necessarily the rule when it comes to the higher ranks of the industry as a 2020 article in PR Week pointed out. It just goes to show that even in a female dominated industry like mine, there is still work to be done.

PR as an exemplar

Over the years, people (mostly male people) have asked me what it’s really like to work in a female dominated environment.

Firstly, it’s a sign of the times that I’ve been asked the question in the first place, and to be honest I’ve never really been into all that testosterone fuelled, alpha male chest beating stuff anyway. I may be in my late 30’s, but I’m not planning on taking up golf anytime soon, and I’m certainly not going to start wearing spray-on masculinity in the form of Lynx Africa!

The fact is, working in the PR industry for well over 10 years has given me such a different take on who I am and how I see the world. Instead of seeing the world through the same monolithic tropes constructed for years by individuals like myself (males), I’ve been opened up to so many more ideas and experiences than I would have done if I’d joined the pinstripe suit and pink shirt set during my years living in London.

Embracing difference for a richer existence

Working alongside not only women, but people that are different to ourselves, only makes us richer as individuals. We’ve got to embrace difference, whether it’s in political viewpoints, culture, sexuality, religion…(the list goes on). Surely the point of one’s life is to synthesise all the differences we experience, and manifest these positively in our physical world for the benefit of ourselves and others? (That got a bit deep!) Unfortunately, there are still many industries out there that don’t see the logic in this argument and would rather plough the same furrow as long as it’s making them cash rich – spiritual and moral bankruptcy merely the collateral damage of such a vision.

Even though I can never fully know what it’s like to be a woman in today’s society, what I can do is my bit in empowering my young daughters to question and challenge the established order of things. Thankfully their ‘old man’ (i.e. me), has seen the power of diversity and equality in action having spent his working career in an industry with people who have a desire to challenge the ‘norm’ and succeeded to some extent in their efforts. Although the PR industry still isn’t perfect, it’s light years ahead of most.

What’s more, we’ve been doing our bit collectively as a company to support diversity – the Innovateher programme, which tries to bring greater diversity to the tech sector of tomorrow, just one of many we’ve supported over the years.

A final thought

My advice to those who still cling for dear life to their Boys Club membership…

…put down the Lynx Africa and start getting involved in the future (a more diverse future!). Actively choose to challenge yourself, get out of your comfort zone. You never know, you might just find yourself liking it!

To read more about how you can get involved in International Women’s Day and #ChooseToChallenge visit: https://www.internationalwomensday.com/