Adeela Warley: Despite advances for women in 2017, there is much still to do

From the election of almost 200 women MPs to the sexual harassment scandals, women's issues saw progress in 2017, but the gender pay gap is still growing, writes our columnist

Adeela Warley
Adeela Warley

Donald Trump enters the Oval Office, protestors wear "pussyhats", the BBC broadcasts its gender gap and Britain elects 191 women MPs. Thank you, 2017.

Girl power started long before the Spice Girls, but 20 years on from their 1997 peak – when "only" 120 women were elected as MPs – it feels that women face the same old trials of working and private life.

The end of 2017 will not mark the end of violence against women, and the sexual harassment scandals that started in Hollywood and spread to Hollyoaks will come home to roost in many professions and walks of life for months to come.

High-profile responses ranged from the #MeToo campaign, with 12 million Facebook reactions in 24 hours, to the BBC’s 100 Women series, celebrating leaders who are addressing some of the century’s greatest challenges.

Real change happens away from the headlines, where people plug away at all levels – people such as Rebecca Stinson of Stonewall and Rosalyn Boyce of Why Me?.

Rebecca, who advances trans equality with the courage to face and reach out to potentially hostile audiences, and Rosalyn, who draws on her own traumatic experience to speak about the right to restorative justice, joined nine other women and four men in the spotlight for CharityComms’ Inspiring Communicators Awards, which recognise how charity communicators are combining creativity, bravery and compassion with their visions for a better world.

As we celebrate progress, we know there is far to go. Pay is not everything, but it does help to show the mixed picture. The positive findings from the CharityComms/TPP Recruitment Charity Marketing & Communications Salary Survey 2017 are a modest rise in salaries overall and communicators being valued more in charities.

But in a sector where women make up 74 per cent of the workforce, charity comms professionals will be disappointed that the survey also finds the gender pay gap growing to 14 per cent, up from 9 per cent in 2016. That is lower than the 18.4 per cent national average, but it’s a worrying shift. Men are also over-represented in more senior roles and are twice as likely to get bonuses. The 2017 pay reporting laws may help to drive this disparity down. Roll on 2018.

Adeela Warley is chief executive of CharityComms

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