What does... "PA" actually mean?

Benno Maggi explains in his column "What does... actually mean?" terms from the marketing and communications sector. This time he explains the acronym "PA".

Today, anyone who doesn't have a PA as a leader is often looked at askance by his or her peers. After all, anyone who thinks he's something needs a Personal Assistant and thus implicitly communicates: "One person can't manage all that I have to do alone, an assistant is needed who prepares everything in front and clears everything away in the back. But why is everyone suddenly talking about their PAs? It just sounds better than Management Secretary. Those who call themselves Chief "Wasweissichwas" and not Director or Department Head, for whom this linguistic difference is apparently important, because it is supposed to demonstrate open-mindedness and modernity. But if then also zeitgeisty creatives and marketers in middle management are clamoring for PAs, then something is definitely rotten.

Sharing is better than delegating

Yes, gender writing is being strained here, but let's take a look at the glass-ceiling index for equal opportunities for women in the workforce - published by the Economist based on sources such as the European Institute for Gender Equality, CSCI ESG Research, OECD, GMAC and national figures. Then it may become clear why. On a scale of 0 to 100, the global average for equality of opportunity is just under 60 and still has room for improvement to reach 100 - which, for women in the workforce, would mean equality of opportunity, not a majority. Compared with the 30 countries considered, however, Switzerland is only behind Turkey, Japan and South Korea, so there is little room for improvement.

So the fact is that at C-level in Swiss companies, unfortunately, the majority of Cs are still male and the majority of PAs are female. There are really only three ways to counteract this: The first is to provide women with working conditions and structures that enable them to have a career, so that they can break through the glass ceiling in companies. The second is to distribute the work better among different people of equal status and to simply do what is left themselves. Because that works better than Mann thinks. The third would be to apply the other widespread meaning of the acronym, that of the technical device PA (Public-Address-System), which has integrated microphone and loudspeaker for announcements in a public place, and to announce loudly to the gentlemen: "DIY!"


Benno Maggi is co-founder and CEO of Partner & Partner. He has been eavesdropping on the industry for over 30 years, discovering words and terms for us that can either be used for small talk, pomposity, excitement, playing Scrabble or just because.

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