Administrative Professionals Day is an observance that takes place on the Wednesday of the last week of April. It is a day to recognize the work that administrative professionals such as secretaries, administrative assistants, and receptionists, among others, do and how they are essential not only to their respective workplaces but also to the economy around the world.
It is not a public holiday, and most people celebrate the day while at work.
During World War II there were few Administrative Professionals available to work in all the new businesses that were booming because of the war. America was coming off the Great Depression which had not only greatly affected the economy but had also caused a decline in birthrates.
The National Secretaries Association was founded in 1942 to help recruit people for administrative roles in business. They highlighted the importance of administrators in the workplace and provided support and training to the new professionals.
As the roles of Administrative Professionals evolved, the organization changed name twice, in 1981 and 1998, first to Professional Secretaries Association and then to the International Association of Administrative Professionals, as it remains until today. These changes reflected how the responsibilities and tasks of the job grew in importance and became essential to businesses around the world.
The association grew internationally and dedicates itself to providing training and educating employees to excellent standards who then go on to work in the global community.
In 1952 the United States Department of Commerce organized the first National Secretaries Week, with National Secretaries Day falling on Wednesday. Since 2000 the names for the celebration have changed to Administrative Professionals Week and Day to encompass all the job titles that fall into the administrative roles, as well as reflect the growing responsibilities that those jobs entail.
Administrative professionals help us in every walk of life, but did you know?...
- Only 17.4 percent of administrative assistants are male, whilst a massive majority of 82.6% of administrative assistants are female.
- Male administrative professionals earn about 6% more than females do working in the same role.
- Nearly 80% of administrative assistants are over forty years old.
- The average tenure of an administrative assistant in a role is one to two years.
- Famous comedian Joan Rivers, and writer J.K. Rowling were administrative professionals working as secretaries before getting their breaks.
Administrative professionals in fiction
There are plenty of examples of TV shows and films that represent administrative professionals in their workplaces. The office-based context makes an incredibly good setting for drama, twists, and laughs. Some of the most famous comedies that include administrative professionals are:
Whether you enjoy the original British version or the US version, both do a good job of depicting some of the challenges, the sublime, and the strange. If you have ever worked in an office then it is highly likely you will recognize some of the caricatures from the show. Maybe you work with a Dwight Schrute or Gareth Keenan, or your boss has a personality like 'David Brent' or 'Michael Scott'. One of the most memorable roles in the series is the part of Dawn Tinsley, or Pam Beesly who work as the receptionist in the company and whose story of romance and love captured the nation.
Parks and Recreation
Another show that portrays the farcical side of office life is Parks and Recreations where we see the administrative side of local government play out in amusing and ridiculous scenarios. Within the office, there are plenty of unusual characters, but one of the quirkiest is April Ludgate who apparently has a love/hate (but mostly hate!) relationship with her job. She starts out in the office as an intern, but is hired by Ron Swanson to be his personal assistant. A role in which she thrives, especially since neither she nor Ron actually wants to do any work!
Perhaps one of the most famous fictional assistants of all time is Waylon Smithers. Smithers works as the one loyal and devoted secretary to Mr. Burns. He is a constant companion to Mr. Burns and a key character and foil in the show. At times he may indicate a knowledge of Mr. Burns and his underhand and cruel ways, but Smithers almost always unquestioningly obeys and undertakes the instructions he is given, which at times places him in dangerous, unusual, and awkward positions.
How to Celebrate
This day is celebrated in offices and workplaces around America, and employers usually organize events and activities that aim to show appreciation for the role of the Administrative Professionals who keep the workplace running.
If you work in an office or alongside administrative professionals in another context this is the perfect day to show your gratitude with a gift, a card, or with kind words.