PR World

Asian Women At The Top: Four PR Network Leaders On How Change Happens – PRovoke Media

Asia’s growth, and growth potential, has long been a dominant narrative for PR agencies, but it has largely been left to expat leaders — usually male, always white — to capitalise on it. There are signs that this is at last changing. Four major networks, including Ruder Finn, H+K Strategies, MSL and the Hoffman Agency are now led in Asia-Pacific by women from (or at least partially from) the region.

The leaders themselves see this shift as natural evolution combined with increased awareness from global headquarters of the value of local market familiarity and insight. But data suggests it has been hard won, not least given that 62% of respondents to this year’s Best Agencies to Work For survey in Asia-Pacific were female, more or less in line with global averages for the PR industry.

In Asia, furthermore, the experience of women in PR seems to reflect that of the wider business world. Female labour participation in many East and Southeast Asian countries, including China (64%), Hong Kong (52%), Indonesia (51%) and Singapore (56%) is typically higher than the global average of 48% and, indeed, the biggest PR market of the US (47%). But a 2019 McKinsey report finds that women often occupy far fewer senior managerial roles—around a quarter in Singapore and less than 5% in India and Japan, despite accounting for 40-45% of corporate entry-level positions.  

A steep climb

For multinationals in Asia, cultural empathy with headquarters is understandably important, and it bears noting that three