The Homogenic Issue

Let me get this straight this isn’t a piece with an agenda against women in internal communication roles, this is a post detailing my fear for the quality of internal communications within some organisations if the roles are continually filled with young women with similar backgrounds and experiences.

Call it a bit disruptive if you must but it’s something which has been on my mind for a while now and something i wanted to share with you. Again, this isn’t an anti-women post more of an anti status quo post.

I have worked in the communications industry for a few years now and I can’t help but notice that the amount of female IC practitioners far out-number the amount of male practitioners.  I can’t help but thinking perhaps this is a bad thing for organisations and the industry to let continue.

I mean, and I’m not stereo typing here, but if you allow a group any group with similar interests and background to dominate a large degree of information flowing through an organisation, that information is going to be perceived, digested and presented in a very different way to if it was digested by a mixed group from mixed backgrounds and experiences.

I’ve seen it myself – huge organisations employing a communications team which fits into certain ‘grouping’ yet the other 95% of the employees (the audience) come from completely different backgrounds with different ideal and a probably have a completely different view of the organisation.

I’m sure if there was a increased in the variety of backgrounds of the internal communications team then results, however you may measure them ROI, engagement, participation will improve because the communications will have had input from different perspectives from people with varied experiences.

I’m not sure why IC is so heavily populated with a certain type of ‘group’ but I’ll run through a couple of the most popular clichés and look at them both.

1)      Women are better communicators. Eh? Perhaps they are (I don’t have any evidence either way) but I’m pretty sure a good percentage of the experts in external communications are male especially in the field of new media. This makes me think that males are drawn to the higher profile external jobs, thus confirming the belief that internal comms is secondary in image and prestige to external comms. If this is the case internal comms must, simply must improve its positioning with organisations and as a career option.

2)      Internal comms is closely tied to the HR department. I think this is particularly relevant but also highly dangerous. Again I’m not stereo typing but I have met more females involved in HR roles than males. I don’t know why, and I’m not going to say it’s because it’s more of a female role. It’s not, and I’m not that dumb. The danger here is that when someone fancies ‘doing’ internal comms and moves from the HR department without any real understanding or training then the communications of an organisation is in the hands of an untrained professional. That wouldn’t happen in any other field.

The crux of this post isn’t about women it’s about homogenic groups dominating one of the most important functions of an organisation (in my eyes). If it was young men this post would be about them (but there is probably enough written about the ‘group’ the  city boys and their deficiencies as a functional group already).

As a Director of internal comms I’d ensure the team came from a variety of backgrounds; some from large organisations, some from agencies and some from other parts of the existing organisation. I’d try to encourage the mix and the cross fertilisation of experience and thinking. Debate would be encouraged as would an open forum to question every decision the team make in their goal for communication excellence.

Once the team lose touch with their colleagues then that is the end of any meaningful communications team. Keep the team relevant, keep them diverse and keep them debating.