PR News 2016 Diversity in PR Awards: Organization

Winner: Hill+Knowlton Strategies

H+K U.S. benefits from gender diversity in leadership: beyond a female CEO, you find women leading two of three regions and more than half of its offices and practices.

Success as a firm demands that the talents of female employees are fully supported and developed, so they remain in the pipeline to become the next generation of leaders. To that end, H+K has launched a women's network, created a new mentoring program, and implemented key policies supporting work-life blend.

H+K U.S. launched H+K HER (Helping Executives Rise) in March 2015 to engage the firm’s attention, resources and leadership in addressing the unique challenges and opportunities that women experience in their careers.

An internal survey shaped the network's focus. Interest in a formal network was very high (more than 75% were likely to participate). The most desired support platforms were formal mentoring and local gatherings, with career pathing and tailored trainings the most desired offerings. All four were 2015 priorities. Open-ended feedback identified more than 50 internal women as role models, highlighting the need to foster connections with them.

Out of this process came mentorHER, a formal, opt-in mentoring program that matches any interested mentee with a mentor to connect more women in the firm, provide real-world exposure to career paths, develop leadership skills, and to give all parties an opportunity to discuss challenges and opportunities.

A Relationship Roadmap guides pairs through six discussions, about taking stock and setting goals; career planning and connecting; overcoming obstacles; and blending work and life. Companion resources are shared on the H+K internal news platform and H+K HER LinkedIn and connectHER channels to help pairs stay motivated, engaged and on track.

The first mentorHER session, in spring 2015, enjoyed incredible participation levels. 137 women participated, creating 109 mentor/mentee pairs (many women were both mentors and mentees).