Wells Fargo head of communications and brand management Barri Rafferty sits down with Doug Simon to talk about how women can advance their careers on the latest “PR’s Top Pros Talk” video interview.

Rafferty’s first tip is to “be courageous and get out of your comfort zone, push yourself to take on new things, to learn new things.” That includes mastering new platforms such as Clubhouse to learning to think more visually and be more mobile, she says.

The importance of developing “a diverse set of mentors and sponsors” is also key, and Rafferty stresses that mentorship at its best is a two-way street, with “in reverse mentors,” such as younger people, being important sources of new information and insights.

Rafferty tells Simon that in order to move ahead, having a “career map” is a necessity. Putting together that career map entails “really taking the time to think about what are the skills you need, what are the networks you need, how do you network over time to have those people support you and go about it and build a personal business plan.”

She also addresses how women who have had to take time off in the wake of the pandemic can chart a course back into the industry. Keeping active by using your skills at a non-profit is one beneficial strategy, since it allows PR pros to stay relevant and keep on networking.

At Wells Fargo, Rafferty has implemented Glide, a “returnship” program that lets people who have been out of the workforce “glide back in.” As evidence of its success, she notes that “last year when we did it, 85 percent of those people after an eight-week internship ended up coming in full-time.”

To create a pathway for women to be better represented in leadership positions, she says that diversity needs to be present not just in the applicant pool, but in the group of people who interview those applicants. “How you're evaluating people needs to be equitable, and how you're looking at candidates,” she tells Simon.

“I think there's a lot more opportunity in our field to create that diversity at the top and throughout our organizations,” Rafferty says, “and I hope we can all encourage people to continue to make that focus and be a part of that initiative. “

View all of the interviews in the “PR's Top Pros Talk” series. Subscribe to get notified when new episodes are available.

Interested in taking part? Contact Doug Simon at dougs@dssimonmedia.com

D S Simon Media helps clients get their stories on television through satellite media tours and by producing and distributing content to the media. The company also produces live social media events.