Lucy Brazier responds to the recent article in the Wall Street Journal
As a journalist, I was always trained that my role was to seek the truth and to give the truth a voice.
This is why I have waited to write about ‘The Vanishing Executive Assistant’ published by the Wall Street Journal on 18th January. The article has caused a furore throughout the profession with many of our leaders reaching out directly to WSJ to express their opinions.
What Did it Say?
In a nutshell, EAs are disappearing fast. You are a dying breed mainly because Executives are now doing their own tasks and AI is taking over. Executives no longer spend time in the office, so companies don’t see a need to offer support anymore. And those that remain are so overworked that there is no time to do the job properly. The author had spoken to precisely 12 people and the centrally featured EA who couldn’t find a new role is now back in employment.
Why is this Dangerous?
This kind of sensationalist piece from the ‘serious’ press is not only ill-informed but dangerous for the half a billion people across the world that work in our profession. If businesses read and believe articles like this one, we are in danger of talking ourselves out of a role that adds billions to the bottom line every year, through a lack of understanding.
Firstly, the author doesn’t understand the difference between an admin and an EA. Whilst the Department of Labor website says ‘Employment of secretaries and administrative assistants is projected to decline 7 percent from 2018 to 2028’ this is the lower level, task-based role. The website also states that employment of administrative services managers is projected to grow 7 percent from 2018 to 2028, faster than the average for all occupations. These are currently the only two categories that the Department of Labor has that are related to the administrative profession. The EA role as we all know it, and which is the future of the profession, doesn’t figure anywhere.
Secondly, I present extensively these days not only to Assistants but to their Executives. I also consult with some of the top businesses in the world. Most are trying to understand how to professionalize and upskill their Assistants to ensure their ROI. Not how to get rid of them.
I have written extensively about the true picture in previous editors’ letters. Last January, I covered AI, the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs report and what it mean for you. We have explored why you need to upskill and last month explained how you give time back to your Executive and prove your ROI to your business. We have also covered how the profession is changing at breakneck speed and the opportunities this presents.
How Can You Help?
All of the above is interesting but we need hard facts.
The truth is that whilst we and other industry leaders can tell you what we see and hear out on the road, the press and the world of business have no real stats to back it up.
That’s why we are launching a month-long global project in association with Yvette Pearson Research to collate that data.
The survey is long. We make no apology for that. We need the statistics so that we (and you) can take them to your businesses, to your Executives, to your HR departments and to the Press to prove the truth about what the administrative profession in the 21st century really is.
Take time to fill in the survey. Share it widely in your offices, through your networks and via your associations. Let’s ensure we have a global piece of meaningful research that is valuable to both you and your businesses, as well as to the future of your role.
Click here to take the Survey.
The results will be shared in a White Paper in April.
It’s time to do something proactive to create the future for our profession.
Will you play your part?