THE FEMALE FOCUS: GEORGIE POWELL

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Georgie Powell, Founder of SPACE

We’ve been lucky enough to work with Georgie and SPACE, the app she founded to encourage us to have more tech/life balance and less mindless phone scrolling. Georgie tells us why her own tech overdose led her to create SPACE and why millions are downloading it.

(Having kids) made me realise more than ever that if I am to be working away from them, I need to care about what I do.

Did you have a female role model or someone you admired as a kid?

My first headmistress. Her motto was to always make a difference. She had gravitas, poise and purpose.

How do you think your early years have influenced what you do today?

Both of my parents showed me how what you put into life you get out. They both worked hard and I lived abroad for much of my youth, experiencing different cultures whilst living in different places.

What led you down the path of building Space and what has surprised you most about the process so far?

I had been thinking about my relationship with technology for a while - how it didn’t always make me feel great. I had a wakeup moment when I became a new mum, whilst breastfeeding my child, that I was scrolling through photos of her on my phone. She was right there in front of me and I was missing the moment! I instantly became interested in the technology overdose that so many of us are experiencing.

I never anticipated that startup life would be such a rollercoaster. One of the things that put me off corporate life is that success is often based not on what you do, but how you communicate what you do to your peers and bosses. I know I’m having an impact in making this app, but communication is still so important. I have learnt I need to make storytelling present in everything SPACE does. I know I need to find the right way to communicate our successes, our vision, our impact. If this business was run by guys they would spin it into something bigger. I’m conscious of this but haven’t found the solution yet.

Georgie and her baby

Georgie and her baby

How do you keep learning more whilst on the job?

I care so passionately about the issue of tech/life balance and am constantly on the hunt for more research and findings on how it’s impacting people’s lives. It was really important for me to choose a business I really care about. I learn a new skill every day, from building a new email template, to understanding how PR works. There’s an element of enforced learning with start-up life.


What have been the essential factors that have enabled you to get to where you are today that you think you'd struggle without?

Having kids. They gave me the impetus to make this a reality. They made me realise more than ever that if I am to be working away from them, I need to care about what I do. Technology and social media is going to have an impact on their future too.

SPACE has had a lean model from the outset which has allowed for flexibility. I was able to have a day job and launch the venture alongside it, which was great. This meant that I learnt whilst still on the job and we didn’t have upfront fixed costs. I was looking for partnerships from the beginning to avoid capital risk.


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Where do you get your inspiration?

I have a few things. A close friend who has a very successful startup - Messly, an NHS recruitment service - definitely inspires me. He has amazing tenacity and drive. I get ongoing inspiration from my kids and I continue to be inspired by the sector I’m in. Having a flexible lifestyle keeps me alive too. The thought of being back in corporate life makes me feel grey.


You led YouTube’s content business in Australia and New Zealand. Do you think businesses of such a large scale can have a grip on staff work life balance? And if they don’t, what can they do about it?

They can. Google did it really well. For them, it’s not about having staff face-time but about deliverables - it’s on you to make it work. It’s a fine line to make sure people have enough work; complex enough but not too stretched so they don’t lose their balance. And it’s about ensuring it’s flexible enough so that time is carved out specifically not for work.


What do you think is missing from businesses in building true diversity?

There’s still a lot of unconscious bias out there in the way people are hired and promoted. Business leaders often hire versions of themselves and it’s evident particularly in tech.


Who's a woman to watch or someone you admire in 2019?

Women in my daily life inspire me - friends, family and other mums who give so much to everything. And this might be controversial, but to be honest, at the moment Theresa May is also a huge inspiration. The way she has conducted herself with class and tenacity throughout the Brexit process and how she took on a job that was always going to be a poison chalice is impressive.


Name the quote you live by

Always make a difference, as my headmistress taught me, and what you put in you get out, following in my parents’ footsteps.



Check out Georgie on LinkedIn and if you feel you need more time away from your phone but are unsure of what to do next, find out more about what SPACE can do to help here.



THE FEMALE FOCUS: SOPHIE HOBSON

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Sophie Hobson, Head of Comms at the School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE)

SSE helps 1,000 people a year develop the skills, strengths and networks they need to tackle society’s biggest problems. We caught up with Sophie on fangirling Esther Rantzen and her passion for creating opportunities for the people society has left behind.

Most organisations do not reflect the society they serve. We need to ask difficult questions of ourselves, if we want to counter our biases and become more inclusive.

Did you have a female role model or someone you admired as a kid?

I was obsessed with Esther Rantzen as a kid! I learnt about Childline when I was quite young and thought it was an amazing idea for supporting children who were having a difficult time. As the founder of that charity, she could do no wrong in my little eyes. A pretty unusual role-model for a seven-year-old, I suppose, but there you go!



How do you think your early years have influenced what you do today?

My mum has volunteered for Cancer Research since before I was born, and is always organising fundraising events that seem genuinely fun. That – along with my fangirling Esther Rantzen – definitely sparked a commitment to charitable causes and social change. There was a lot of campaigning going on about greenhouse gases and protecting endangered species that reached me as a child, too. I remember I had a children’s book created by Greenpeace about the Rainbow Warrior, and another by the Vegetarian Society that was a kind of survival guide for vegetarian teenagers. I guess all those things wiggled their way into my identity. (And made me annoyingly self-righteous as a teenager... sorry, everyone.) And I’ve always loved writing and drawing, which explains the communications bit.

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You have helped build several startups in the past. What led you down this path and what were some of your biggest learnings?

It’s so exciting to work at a start-up. I loved feeling like I was genuinely helping to shape the direction of those businesses, and how quickly I could make ideas a reality. It’s very fast-moving, and I enjoy wearing lots of hats. It is also – as everyone says – an emotional rollercoaster. You have to be prepared for the days when everything feels frustrating and desperate, sometimes just days apart from the successes - when it feels like you’re going to take over the world! I think my biggest learning is how important it is to be working with a team that you trust and you like, when you’re in that environment. You often have to go above and beyond the call of duty to make things work, and that only feels worth it when you respect your team-mates. In a small team, mutual respect and a shared vision are essential.



How do you keep learning more whilst on the job?

Talking to people in similar roles to me at other organisations, reading and doing regular training to develop my skillset, and keeping an eye on what other sectors and organisations are doing to innovate in my field.

I have had a relatively privileged life. I would be an idiot not to recognise how that has opened certain doors for me.

What have been the essential factors that have enabled you to get to where you are today that you'd think you'd struggle without?

I have learnt how to keep my work-life balance in check. I love talking to people and I am creative. Overall, I feel okay about myself… apart from the inevitable imposter syndrome sneaking in from time to time. Also, I have had a relatively privileged life. I would be an idiot not to recognise how that has opened certain doors for me. For example, I have had a good education, a loving family, generally been in good health, and always had a roof over my head. I believe it is completely random that I have ended up with that amount of luck, and it’s not fair that people in other circumstances might find it more difficult to find meaningful employment or support. I guess that’s why I spend my working life supporting social entrepreneurs and social-sector leaders – they’re tackling injustices and creating opportunities for the people society has left behind.


Where do you get your inspiration?

Trying to take in a diverse range of media, observing other people’s behaviours, and finding out what other people are excited by and geek out on. Also, walking among lots of plants helps clear my mind.

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What do you think is missing from businesses in building true diversity?

Inclusivity, and shying away from difficult questions. Most organisations do not reflect the society they serve, but the people working there are afraid to ask why some people have ended up excluded. We need to get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. It takes hard work, self-reflection and challenge to our own beliefs to understand why we are prejudiced towards certain people. We need to ask difficult questions of ourselves, if we want to counter our biases and become more inclusive.



Do you think social entrepreneurship is opening more doors for women to come through?

Absolutely! The majority of social entrepreneurs we support at SSE are women. Across the UK more broadly, 40% of social enterprises are led by women, according to research from Social Enterprise UK.

SSE Global Team

SSE Global Team

You now work with the School for Social Entrepreneurs. How can businesses help make social entrepreneurship a success in this country?

Loads of ways! Businesses can work in partnership with social enterprises, get them in their supply chain and buy from them (this directory will help). Larger corporates can provide funding to the social-enterprise sector. Of course, the ideal solution would be for businesses to become social enterprises themselves! Even big businesses can make this change, as Cordant Group proved last year.



You’re an expert in content marketing. What brands are on your radar right now that you believe are pushing the boundaries in this space?

I’m more interested in how organisations are using technologies like virtual reality (VR) and voice to create more powerful communications. For example, the National Autistic Society’s Too Much Information film gave me an insight into autism that I don’t think would have been possible without the VR element. It’s a great example of using technology to improve story-telling, rather than using tech in a novelty way that feels clumsy.

Who's a woman to watch or someone you admire in 2018?

I think June Sarpong is doing brilliant work to promote the diversity and inclusion agenda. Also, all the women in the recently announced Women in Social Enterprise 100 are well worth watching (and SSE’s managing director Nicola Steuer is among them!).

Name the quote you live by

“Unless you catch ideas on the wing and nail them down, you will soon cease to have any.” – Virginia Woolf

Chat to Sophie on Twitter @sophiehobson

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A POSITIVE ROLE MODEL IN 2018 AND BEYOND?

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The theme of International Men’s Day this year is ‘Positive Role Models’

We wrote a blog post last week that you can find here about why we decided to team up with Mac&Moore and chat to some pretty incredible men about this topic. We’ve been so excited to share the responses we asked to the following three questions and feel as though there were some powerful common themes, despite the participants working in the worlds of sport, education, advertising and beyond which has been both refreshing and encouraging in the midst of all the media misery we’re enduring at the moment. So with no further ado, let’s dive right in!

Phil Bartlett – Managing Director, CDM

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- What are the qualities or most important elements of being a positive role model?

Authenticity, consistency and tenacity. People will forgive your (inevitable) weaknesses and failings if they can see you’re sincere about your beliefs and efforts.

- What actions do you think need to be taken to ensure that men can thrive without being restricted by patriarchal structures?

First, it’s down to the individual to take the first step: just let go of all the old bullshit and there’s a real freedom and poise that can come with that. “There’s more courage in truth than there is in pretending to be strong.” But the long game is all about teaching our sons about empathy and the importance, and huge value, of vulnerability in building trust.

- How do you think men can be positive role models for women?

I don’t think women need men to be positive role models for them. I think people need to decide they’re going to be positive role models for other people. Like-minded, forward thinking and open-hearted individuals will always find and support each other. (Find Phil on Twitter and LinkedIn)

Nick Bridge – Founder, Girls are Awesome

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- What are the qualities or most important elements of being a positive role model?

I really think just not being a dick helps. I try not to be a dick as much as possible. I’m not always successful because working with people is a dynamic thing and sometimes life is frustrating. Thank goodness we’re not robots and we’re forced to navigate and be diplomatic and empathic. Strategies are great because they forget the people have egos and fears and ambitions and interests. I really think just trying to try to see things from as many different points of view as possible helps. And being large enough to admit to your mistakes, shift perspective and not always have to be right. That’s something I work on every day. I’m not the expert though.

- What actions do you think need to be taken to ensure that men can thrive without being restricted by patriarchal structures?

Wow, big question. I’m not ‘strong’ or unemotional so I can’t speak to those particular traits, but I think somehow showing and experiencing success through failure can go a long way. I also don’t necessarily think that being strong or unemotional needs to be a restriction - we just need more females in all levels of business, government and society, and especially at the top. I also don’t believe in a total revolution either, obvious big things need to happen and the scales need to tip for women in order for dudes to shut the fuck up for a second and stop being protective and mean and greedy. There’s only one way to find out if power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely regardless of gender, or not.

- How do you think men can be positive role models for women?

I really only think about how to be a role model for my kids, how I have to show my son and daughter to be respectful people - and to be honest, there’s so much Girls Are Awesome in our lives at home as well as the studio that I have to try to figure out how to raise my boy amongst this societal shift - if you know what I mean. There’s a lot of positive encouragement for young girls and women right now but we mustn’t forget that might leave the boys to figure it out for themselves, again - and it will be interesting to see how that goes. Not saying it’s not about a shift, and that after thousands of years of oppression that women deserve what’s coming through this movement, but the overall goal is equality. (Find Girls Are Awesome on Instagram)

Chris Wyles – International Rugby Union Player and founder of Wolfpack Lager

Source:  Sky Sports

Source: Sky Sports

What are the qualities or most important elements of being a positive role model?

I believe the most important element is to lead by example. It's easy to talk the talk but you need to walk the walk.

- What actions do you think need to be taken to ensure that men can thrive without being restricted by patriarchal structures?

In this case it's all about communicating. We need to make sure men feel comfortable to share their thoughts and concerns and open up. This is an important step to allowing men to look for help and guidance rather than internalising emotion.

- How do you think men can be positive role models for women?

It's all about being respectful to people rather than making it about men or woman. If you are respectful and considerate you can be a role model to anyone! (Find Chris on Twitter and Instagram)

Dr. Kerry Featherstone – Lecturer in English and Creative Writing, Loughborough University

Credit: Suzi Corker Photography

Credit: Suzi Corker Photography

Firstly, I have a strange relationship with gender. My first name is asexual, and many people have assumed that I’m female. Mobile phone providers have refused to allow me to change contracts on behalf of Kerry Featherstone. I get asked what my relationship is to the patient when I pick up medication at the pharmacy. And I’m not particularly macho: as a teenager I was beaten up for being gay on more than one occasion (I’m not gay). Should I have made it clear that I wasn’t gay in order to avoid the beating, or would that be tacitly acknowledging that if I had been gay, the beating would be understandable? So, as we know, gender can be a pain in all sorts of ways, petty or horrific.

- What are the qualities or most important elements of being a positive role model?

I think it’s something like a combination of integrity and empathy. In practical terms, be kind to other people. Try to help them to get where they want to go, rather than helping them to be more like you. For me, the ability to be generous with your time and energy is a sign of strength. That’s about empathy. Also, try to live according to standards that you set yourself, and are happy with, regardless of how other people behave towards you. For me, a role model has self-respect that doesn’t rely on the response of other people. In order for it to become a model, you have to do it publicly: show that other people’s behaviour doesn’t diminish your belief in your values. That’s the integrity bit.

- What actions do you think need to be taken to ensure that men can thrive without being restricted by patriarchal structures?

I think you have to be prepared to ask yourself some questions! “Why am I behaving like this?”; “Why do I feel I have to do or say certain things?”; “Why can’t I do or say certain things?” If you start unpacking the reasons for behaving in certain ways, there’s no logic to or need for it. So that might be a sign that you should let it go. That’s personal interrogation, I guess. At societal level, we need to let go of the idea of ‘growing a pair’: it’s ridiculous and harmful.

- How do you think men can be positive role models for women?

By showing respect regardless of gender. I’m fortunate to work in an environment where women have as much expert knowledge as their male colleagues and – as far as I’m concerned – are valued accordingly. That should be true anywhere. If, as a man, you behave differently towards the people around you because of gender, you need to be asking yourself why you’re doing that. Perhaps part of the answer is to accept that, as a man, you can have female role models. I certainly do. (Find Kerry on Twitter and Instagram)

Josh Uwadiae – Founder, WeGym

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- What are the qualities or most important elements of being a positive role model?

I think one of the most important elements of being a positive role model is a mixture of vulnerability and optimism. People should be inspired by your optimistic views and actions but equally grounded by the candour at which you articulate the bad and ugly, which complements the good work you’re doing. A good example is the book Shoedog - the autobiography of Phil Knight the Founder of Nike.

- What actions do you think need to be taken to ensure that men can thrive without being restricted by patriarchal structures?

I think men need to be given the liberty to be both macho masculine and feline feminine. Being too manly is judged and vice versa with femininity so I believe the modern man is lost in today’s climate. In terms of action I would first start with spreading awareness to the traditions which have been handed to us as men as we are often acting these out subconsciously... my dad hated talking about my emotions and I found myself growing up similar so it’s about breaking the cycles publically as well as at home!

- How do you think men can be positive role models for women?

I heard a great talk by David Wade where he said, ' we're all sexist, even the good people ' and that really resonated with me. I think I'm a good person and therefore I'm really not sure the specificity of male role models to women in a general/societal setting but I do feel a responsibility to manage my own sexism, bias, discriminative opinions and make other people (including men) aware too. (Find Josh on Twitter and Instagram)



Paul Mellor – Founder, Mellor & Smith

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- What are the qualities or most important elements of being a positive role model?

  • Listening. As the old adage goes "you've got 2 ears and 1 mouth" so shut your mouth and pin your ears back.

  • Humility. It goes a long fucking way.

  • Empathy. Having compassion for another person’s life, problems, hopes and dreams is incredibly powerful.

  • Having a backbone. Displaying the guts to stand for something or someone, especially if that opinion costs you.

  • Being fucking real. Having the confidence to show weaknesses as well as strengths.

  • And remember, nobody likes a dickhead.

- What actions do you think need to be taken to ensure that men can thrive without being restricted by patriarchal structures?

Suicide is the biggest killer in men between 20-45. How the fuck did we, as a civilised world, get to the point where the biggest thing killing young men is themselves. It would be laughable if it wasn't so serious. It's definitely connected to society's demand for men to be strong and unemotional. But I reckon it's bigger than that; patriarchal structures don't actually work for anyone apart from the one fella at the top. Equality isn't women superseding men, it's men and women thriving together.

- How do you think men can be positive role models for women?

By calling out bullshit, misogyny and inequality at every opportunity. The people who’ve been to our Take Fucking Risks events know I call out the problems in the advertising industry whenever I can: "Fuck white, male creative directors”. I've got 3 kids at Primary School: 2 daughters and a son. I despair that my daughter’s opportunities will be hindered as they grow up, whereas my son will afforded baked-in privilege. Fuck that shit. It’s time for change. (Find Paul on Instagram)

Matt Boyles – Founder, Fitter You and Wireless Fitness

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- What are the qualities or most important elements of being a positive role model?

Always challenging and calling out sexism, bias and privilege. Plus continually challenging my own prejudices and biases and catching myself when this happens, as embarrassing as it might be. This can start on a micro level, ie. with your friends, as well as in the wider field. Carefully thinking about the language I use in real life and online and also ensuring I don't do anything that might be construed in any way as intimidating. Not to mention supporting the women I know in all their endeavours, both personally and professionally.

- What actions do you think need to be taken to ensure that men can thrive without being restricted by patriarchal structures?

Listening to the amazing women in our life as much as possible - really listening. Calling out people who are consciously (and unconsciously) supporting the current toxic structures. Having the awareness to notice and work on when we do fall into the old traps. eg. even though I'm an out gay man, I occasionally find myself hiding or disguising who I am in order to appear more manly or fit in with certain groups and it's not doing anyone any favours. Being more 'masc' or manly doesn't mean you're stronger in any way, it just means you're still subscribing to ridiculously outdated notions that are holding all of us back.

- How do you think men can be positive role models for women?

With the consistency of our language, support and approach. By listening more. By not assuming we know everything. By staying open and grateful to the women in our life and wider circle for everything they've done and will do for us and with us. (Find Matt on Twitter and Instagram)

Luke SturgeonFounder, GreySpace

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- What are the qualities or most important elements of being a positive role model?

I believe a good role model will frequently find moments to reflect on what they’re doing and whether their actions and opinions can be improved. I enjoy seeking out critical feedback from others and encourage criticality. I’m most happy when someone asks me why I believe x is a good idea versus y.

A) it forces me to articulate my thinking clearly

B) whilst trying to explain I’m also deciding if I agree with my old opinion

C) we can compare and imagine alternatives.

- What actions do you think need to be taken to ensure that men can thrive without being restricted by patriarchal structures?

I think men already thrive in many areas. The challenge here is a broader one of changing gender stereotypes. I’m aware when I’m speaking to mostly male, mostly female, or mixed groups. But the moment someone speaks to me - regardless of gender - I’m listening to a person with a different background, experiences, education and interests to myself. That’s always fascinating and rewarding. Women are underrepresented in many areas of society. Work being an obvious and important one. I believe we need to create more opportunities for underrepresented people to excel. But I also don’t believe someone should be empowered just to fill a diversity agenda, we should see and celebrate the value each person offers on a case-by-case basis.

- How do you think men can be positive role models for women?

I don’t think men should be role models for women specifically. I think someone who’s intelligent, passionate, articulate and interesting can be a positive role model to someone else who’s looking to better some aspect of themselves and grow in new ways. I think people should surround themselves with a diverse set of interesting men and women, younger and older, who will encourage them to challenge their assumptions, develop their own opinions, and take their own action. We all need to support others who are on this journey of growth and self-development. I think most people would be proud to discovered they positively impacted someone else’s life.

Adam Jones – Policy and Advocacy Officer, UK Council for Psychotherapy

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- What are the qualities or most important elements of being a positive role model?

Speaking generally, I think positive role models are those who lead by example, and think very carefully about the effect that their actions have on other people, particularly those who may be looking up to them for guidance. In terms of men, I think positive role models are those who are brave enough to challenge patriarchal values and traditional ideas about masculinity. Men who use their position or platform to show others that it’s OK to break away from typical notions of “manliness”.

- What actions do you think need to be taken to ensure that men can thrive without being restricted by patriarchal structures?

The feminist movement needs to continue to grow. Many men are terrified of the “fem” part of feminism, but a movement to dismantle patriarchal structures and end sexism and oppression stands to liberate us all. That is what is needed to create a world where men can thrive regardless of whether or not they conform to traditional notions of masculinity.

- How do you think men can be positive role models for women?

Of course there are many wonderful men who can act as positive role models to people regardless of their gender. But, in a society where the achievements of men have long been put on a pedestal and the achievements of women diminished, I don’t think men should be motivated by being role models for women. They should do what they can to help to break down the barriers that so many positive female role models face – and that sometimes includes stepping aside. They should also shun the patriarchal values that have so often belittled women’s status and achievements. Follow UKCP on Twitter and Instagram)



We'd like to say a huge thank you to all the men who spoke to us so honestly and candidly on this topic, we look forward to hopefully having many more conversations to come!

OH HI BOYS

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As many of you will know by now, we’re kind of keen about women.

Talking about them, celebrating, chatting with them, swooning over their brilliance. Following on from International Women’s Day earlier this year, we teamed up with Mac&Moore to create an action plan on how we’d #PressForProgress and make our contribution towards ending gender inequality. So you might be wondering why this blog is all about men? 19th November is International Men’s Day, and far from believing that we should be in any way threatened by this event, we’ve instead decided to offer our thoughts.

We know so many incredible men in our lives, and often the discussions around feminism or gender are very black and white, men OR women, which is not only incredibly limiting, but it excludes so many others from the conversation such as trans or non-binary folk and other intersectional issues. We’ve never believed that the discussion around feminism should be exclusively limited to ‘female-only’ spaces. As individual businesses, we work closely alongside a whole range of different types of businesses made up of different people. We’re committed to creating change within the infrastructure of the working landscape by partnering with companies who share our values, and believe that more diverse and inclusive working spaces benefit everyone. We can achieve better work, build better businesses and foster greater creativity by challenging the ‘norms’ that we are all guilty of becoming comfortable in, and we believe the best place to start is by listening to each other.

The theme of International Men’s Day 2018 is ‘Positive Role Models’, an important topic in today’s world. We have been thinking a lot about what it means to be a role model in 2018, and ways in which we can remove gender from the equation altogether to achieve both more representation and more access to role models for all different types of people, from all walks of life. To coincide with International Men’s Day we’ve spoken to some incredible men who are all influential in their own respective fields on what the phrase ‘positive role models’ means to them.

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We’ll be revealing the answers very soon (watch this space!) but in the meantime, and so that we can be absolutely clear, here are three reasons why we, as a collective, feel this is an important conversation to be a part of…

1. The patriarchy is most of the problem. Men are part of the solution.

The patriarchy and its terrible terrible structures are a problem for everyone. In that, at least, it does not discriminate. We strongly believe that the only way in which we’ll create long-lasting, positive change is by engaging men in the conversation, not isolating them. We want them to listen to us, understand our perspective and our experiences, so we need to encourage conversations, open communication channels and create dialogue. Caitlin Moran demonstrated a sterling example of this recently with this Twitter thread which prompted some amazing learnings and insights, off the back of conversation. We think that more of this can only be a good thing, so we wanted to ask men both in our lives and that we admire about role models, and we cannot wait to share the responses.

2. Privilege and perspective

Due to the aforementioned patriarchy, there are many ways in which men (particularly white, middle-class, able-bodied, cis men) are afforded preferential treatment and privilege in this country. Recognising that we are all part of a system of oppression and supremacy and knowing and acknowledging our place within it is very important to avoid conversations around certain issues being misunderstood. We three, as white, straight able-bodied cis women, are no exception. Once that has been understood, we can drill down into some of the specifics facing certain groups without feeling as though the raising of these issues are monopolising the conversation, or taking it away from others.

Suicide is the leading cause of death of men aged between 20 and 45 in the UK. That is an absolute tragedy. The fact that men often don’t feel able to reach out for help, be vulnerable and show their emotions is not just unfair, it’s dangerous. Toxic masculinity and its effects are a problem of the patriarchy, and that’s why we should all be trying to get rid of it.

3. Behind ‘enemy’ lines

If you do a Google search of ‘positive role models for men’ or ‘positive role models for women’, literally all the suggestions or for people within the same gender. We think that’s just weird. Traditionally, we only really had access to white male role models that were beyond the home, but as times have now begun to change, we need better representation of role models for everyone. We need people within minority groups to be able to see themselves as leaders, Olympic champions, award-winners, innovators and entrepreneurs…. because that’s what will make the world a better place. Fact. So we started wondering whether we can break down the idea of a role model, take it away from gender… and focus more on the qualities and attributes that make up a great person, and we’re going to take it from there.

So keep your eyes peeled for our interviews coming up next week. We’re really excited to share the conversations we’ve had and hopefully start some new ones. These kind of topics and discussions can be a little uncomfortable at times, but in discomfort, change can occur and we’re interested in pursuing that. Also, please do get in touch… we would love to have more conversations on this and hear your perspectives, even if you disagree… just no trolls please!


Check out what the girls at Mac&Moore are up to here.

THE FEMALE FOCUS SERIES: LACEY HUNTER-FELTON

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Lacey Hunter-Felton, Founder of Hunter Collective

Hairdresser Lacey saw an opportunity to build a space for beauty and fashion people wanting to be independent and work flexibly. Hunter Collective is an incubator for the mums who still want to work and the next generation of tastemakers who want to forge their own path. We caught up with her on why the co-working salon studio and event space is filling a dying need for change.

If I can give women flexibility and independence through the business, I am doing what I set out to do. And even if it’s helping just me and one more woman, Hunter Collective is giving us another option.

Did you have a female role model or someone you admired as a kid?

Very much so. From a young age I was surrounded by strong female cheerleaders throughout the generations and into my adulthood. My mother, grandmother, friends, my hairdresser, Cheryl, who inspired me as a kid to become a hairdresser. I’ve taken different things from each of them and carried them with me. For me, it’s so important to have strong female influences and keep gathering them. And there’s a couple of my clients too, who are powerful, articulate and beautiful women who have been following my career and invested time in me. When I was mulling over the genesis of Hunter Collective, I realised that they were stepping up and motivating me to do it. And since the birth of the business they haven’t steppedback. For me it’s not a gender thing. The women in my life are strong influencers with my priorities at heart. I’ve expanded my network as an adult and have tried to bring others into it - to inspire back.

A pic of Lacey with her grandmother May Ivy Hunter. She takes the name from her and she symbolises the amazing women who have influenced Lacey’s upbringing.

A pic of Lacey with her grandmother May Ivy Hunter. She takes the name from her and she symbolises the amazing women who have influenced Lacey’s upbringing.

What led you to start Hunter Collective?

I needed to. I had to. Hunter Collective was born out of waking up and looking around, thinking ‘where do all the women in my industry go?’ It’s crazy but 70% of women drop out of the industry by the time they’re 34 years old. In hairdressing, the strongest influencers are men and they’re usually the owners of the salons, while women are the mentors. In my experience, women were having kids and not coming back. I was working in central London and the chance of having a long career in hair as a woman wasn’t sustainable. I kept in touch with my mentors, who went on to diversify their careers, which was great, but in reality they didn’t have a choice. Classic salon life did not accommodate them and their families.

I definitely learnt from these mentors before deciding to potentially have a baby myself. (Lacey had her baby Gene last year). I thought to myself, ‘if I become pregnant, I can’t wait for these barriers to move as I could be waiting forever.’ Instead, I built my dream of what I wanted for my career and as a mother. I quit my job, feeling very frustrated with the situation. I set about spending two years collecting and building what is Hunter Collective now. I am a creature of consistency and cosmic ordering so it was ultimately fear that put a rocket up my arse.

How do you think your early years have influenced what you're doing today?

My mother raised 3 children on her own. The stability my mum created in a tough situation is a cornerstone that I have replicated for myself. She supported me to become a hairdresser at the age of 16. We couldn’t afford for me to train at Vidal Sassoon London but she encouraged me to learn the skill and do it well. Hairdressing gets a bad rap outside the industry but not everybody can be a hairdresser.

I learnt a skill rather than studying a skill, one which I could use anywhere in the world. This gave me loads of confidence. I moved to London, which was the making of me. I wouldn’t have had the career opportunities, I wouldn’t have met my husband and friends, and built my aspirations of how I would raise my child. London’s vibrant diversity and beautifully complicated way was oxygen for me.

The Hunter Collective space

The Hunter Collective space

How do you keep learning more whilst building a business?

Listening. Simple as that - I listen all the time. I’ve made it my job to take every person I work with for coffee and get feedback. I’ve also learnt to say ‘I don’t know’. This was difficult at the beginning but it’s massively rewarding now. I work with interesting, dynamic characters every day and I always ask them to tell me what they’re doing. I have realised that asking for 5 minutes of their time to listen, people will share.

Where do you get your inspiration?

Where to start! My connections from Hunter Collective - our members, my son – are massively inspiring. Through the business, I meet people with diverse careers and backgrounds - that’s inspirational enough. These are the people who I wanted to build Hunter Collective for and help them build their own businesses. And Nico, my co-founder, is inspirational - he took on a major risk doing this. Ultimately, inspiration is people.

It was ultimately fear that put a rocket up my arse.

What do you think is missing from businesses in building true diversity?

Awareness. Businesses don’t understand bias. A lot of businesses remain unconscious. Many of us are guilty, including me. I was always conscious of culture and diversity but even I was complacent. Hunter Collective, alone, has proven to me how everyone has a responsibility to take diversity seriously and actively take part in building a diverse society around them. In some parts of our lives we’re just cruising to be happy and support ourselves. But some businesses need a reality check and structure within so that diversity becomes second nature and part of everyday life. We’re not there yet.

What brands are on your radar right now and why?

We’re always looking at brands to partner with and inspire us. They won’t interest me if they don’t back themselves up ethically and sustainably. At Hunter Collective, we build long term relationships with partners so it’s in our culture to work with businesses who celebrate ethnicity and address waste and pollution, which is a big issue in the industry. We’re trying to set an example so we can influence others and create a knock-on effect. We’re quietly encouraged that brands are being more responsible and future-proof.

What have been the essential factors that have enabled you to be an entrepreneur that you'd think you'd struggle without?

The knowledge that it takes a village. I didn’t know what the phrase meant until I needed a village. When s*** gets real you need people around you and a support network cheering you on. I thank my family and husband on a daily business as I couldn’t come to work if my family couldn’t look after my child and I couldn’t have done it without my husband financially supporting me. Their commitment is still high even a year after my son was born. This pushes me forward as I’m determined not to let them down.

The Hunter Collective meeting room

The Hunter Collective meeting room

What's your biggest learning so far since starting Hunter Collective?

I have learnt a lot from working with Nico. That everything we want do we’ve got to do ourselves. From the structure and framework of the business, to how it’s run. It’s endless and I’m still learning. I still have confidence wobbles but I know that as long as I keep going, it will get better. Being a hairdresser has given me a good basis for knowing how to treat every meeting with a high level of customer service. And then there’s the stamina. Fourteen hour days standing on my feet has taught me what a hard day’s work feels like.

How has work changed since having a child relatively recently?

It was the best thing that ever happened. I was treading water and not really sure about whether to set up Hunter Collective. In my mind I was an unemployed girl with an idea and I couldn’t do anything with it. When I got pregnant, my mindset changed. I needed to step up and look after my family and future. My son, Gene, was a ticking time bomb – and kicked me into getting some funding and a location. I met Nico when I was already 6 months pregnant and 12 days after the birth, together we signed the lease. By week 3 of Gene being born I was working full time and by week 7 Hunter Collective opened.

If I can give women flexibility and independence through the business, I am doing what I set out to do. And even if it’s just me and one more woman, Hunter Collective is giving us another option.

Who's a woman to watch or someone you admire in 2018?

Well, two that I need to name are my clients and they’ve been quiet pushers for me to grab life. Firstly, Nishma Robb, Marketing Director at Google, who is someone whose career I see getting bigger and bolder. And Emma Sexton has been a massive influence on me. I can only thank her and keep beating her drum. She is the ultimate badass. Emma was one of my first clients and she ignored the fact that I was on gardening leave when I left a former salon and took me for a drink. These are two women who I want to be even more publicly successful so that they can inspire lots more women.

Name the quote you live by

“You have as many hours in the day as Beyonce”, which is on the side of a mug my husband bought me. Otherwise, it has to be “It takes a village”, which I constantly cling to as my guiding prophecy. My husband, Liam, is the best man and he’s been in this 100% with me. I feel that men are often taken for granted these days because equality has shifted. Liam and I both co-parent our son. He’s never told me not to go to work so he can prioritise his work. He has not let me down when I’ve needed to push harder. But beyond my husband, the quote reminds me that I need everyone. It’s not just about having a husband and girls squad around me, it’s about everyone who has a genuine impact on my life. We’re all in it together.


Find out more about this incredible woman’s creation here and follow Hunter Collective on Instagram.

POSITIVE IMPACT IN ACTION: SAM CONNIFF ALLENDE

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Sam Conniff Allende, Serial Entrepreneur & Pirate

Multi-award-winning serial entrepreneur, with 10 start-ups to his name, including industry leading Creative Youth Network; Livity, is at it again. Restless for social change, Sam is now the best selling author of Be More Pirate. We find out what it’s all about.

Did you have any role models or someone you admired as a kid?

I once had a lucky experience. My friend’s mum worked in Parliament and I bunked off school so she could take me to see Nelson Mandela speak. His gravitas was not lost on me. I’d seen so many political figures on TV, like Thatcher, but never in the flesh. Mandela pieced together words in a charged room of people hanging on every one of those words. It was then compounded as he left the stage and walked in my direction and I couldn’t have felt smaller. He stopped in front of me and asked why I wasn’t in school. My mutter of reply was that being here today was more important. He chuckled and said, “Hopefully you’ll learn the right lessons, then.” It was an instructive moment. When I was playing characters as a kid, I thought maybe I want to be Nelson Mandela one day.

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We all know you from your heady days of building the incredible Livity agency. An agency and brand with purpose and that seems to give a sh*t about young people. What drove you to set it up in the first place?

Multiple reasons. A deep one I discovered later in life, that my dad had followed a very similar path to me. He died when I was 5 and my family made sure I was sheltered from his death so I didn’t find out much about him. It turns out that he set up a version of Livity in professional services (rather than marketing), which focused on community engagement. I believe my deep subconscious proves why I did it.

And then I have always needed to know what people’s values are. Fairness drives me. I want to know what your values are, what you sit up and fight for. It’s actually quite rare to get people who know what their 3 values are. I grew up in South London living with my mum, grandma and my sister. We were also a surrogate middle class family for disadvantaged people, for years we gave them beds and food. I was very conscIous of the opportunities I had compared to my peers.   

What’s the campaign you remain most proud of at Livity?

I can’t name one as there have been so many. What’s very clear is that Livity is better run now. Alex Goat, who took over from me, is amazing. It’s difficult for me to take sometimes. It makes you reevaluate that you’re not as good as you think you are. What Livity is doing with young people is incredible. Take Livity’s product, Digify, a talent spotting and hot-housing digital skills incubator and supported as part of Sadiq Khan's Digital Talent Programme. When I was around it used to be a diversity programme centred around digital skills. It now flips on an old problem and solution to be a fully grown business. I am very proud of the new look.

What started your obsession with pirates?

Well, tell me one person who hasn’t been touched by pirates in some way. They’re in culture everywhere – from the hardened biker with skull and crossbones to 5 year olds who grew up reading Peter Pan. They are a proxy for rebels and I didn’t know their history beyond Treasure Island and the rather alluring Jack Sparrow.

My favourite work with Livity was always working with young people - they inspire me and I knew that they’d help me in my preparation for transitioning out of the business. (Sam was 24 when he started Livity and nearly 40 when he left). I didn’t want to be that old guy desperately trying to hang out with young people. Taking that age old fact that as an entrepreneur you must do what most scares you, I decided I needed to write a book. I hadn’t gone to university and it was time to write the wrong - excuse the pun. Purpose had to come first though, otherwise the book would end up being like a TED X Talk in Balham. It began as an entrepreneur guide book. I went to hundreds of entrepreneur workshops to test it out and I got a lot of feedback on my overuse of metaphors and that basically it wasn’t very good! My interest in pirates continued to grow with the more I researched them. Their story is not one we know - they were true creators of social revolution and rebellion. The mainstream story wasn’t promoted at the time as they were seen as a threat. I fell in love with pirates. Finally I had found something people don’t know. They had to be exposed.

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You’re calling for a rebellion in the form of ‘professional rule-breaking’. What can progressive businesses that want to protect young people’s futures do to foster this mindset?

Be honest about what change is made in an organisation and question whether you listen to your talent - which you probably don’t. Do you really believe what they say you are? Are you close enough to the culture that you can hear the future of your business being talked about by staff in the pub? Do you know their side hustles, their walks of life? Young talent has more than one thing on the go at any one time and you must assume that they’re hustling when they’re not at your workplace. Businesses need to choose whether they want to be an incubator to serve young people’s futures. Most businesses are of the past and they’re not going to get anywhere without emotional experience. They’re missing a big opportunity with the very people with the tools to change the world and work alongside those who have already been around the block. Naivety meets wisdom...there’s chemistry in that.

You talk about the fact that no one is coming to save us. This is both scary and realistic. But not every young person has it in their armour to be a pirate and re-write the rules. What are the key strengths of pirates to be successful in this fractured society?

Change follows a pattern and if you identify a problem and don’t raise it or complain about it, nothing happens. This seems to be a habit rather than a rule. Rules have always been made in the past when circumstances were different. The biggest mistake to make is to accept things the way they need to be. The weird paradox is that 99 per cent of leaders would like to hear from young people in order to create positive impact. Young people need to stand up to change.

You liken pirates to Suffragettes in their similarities of workers’ rights and ambitions for social revolution. Do you think that women today are pirate enough?

I am inspired by women I see today and I support the debate. I grew up in a strong feminist household in which only one would call themselves a feminist. The Slumflower fills me with excitement and I am rooting for her to create a children’s book for my daughter.  Emma Gannon is another who has been very open with her journey. The thing is; the topic of gender equality is getting divisive – diversity and feminism can create a vacuum. We need a unified sense of action. Strong leadership is as important as strong messages. And to draw on the quote, “well behaved women rarely make history”, we definitely need more female pirates.

You’ve talked about the changes advertisers need to make to stop selling ‘fake’ happiness in a world of adversity. What can they be doing differently?

Doing something else. They need to work with a business model that champions ‘less is more’. Coca Cola being pleased with themselves that they’re using less water in their products when water shortage threatens life is disgusting. And they do not own the word ‘Happiness’. We’re still in the Malboro era of selling us stuff wantonly for money. The saying, ‘Advertising needs to decide if it wants to be a signature on humanity’s suicide note’, springs to mind. Business models are broken and non–circular business risks being a war crime.

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What have been the essential factors that have enabled you to be an entrepreneur that you'd think you'd struggle without?

Optimism. I think I have a buoyancy of optimism. If everyone could switch on optimism all would be fine. With me, even if it slumps low I see it rise gradually again to the surface. I think also the support I get is invaluable. We think about resilience retrospectively but we need to consider it in real time. When we see loved ones break down we look back surprised that everyone is surprised. I keep an active resilience chart with 4 quadrants - Resilience, Life, Personal Development and Leadership. Under each quadrant are key aspects of my life I need to keep in check and I refer to it regularly. It’s now habit to check my levels of resilience in real time and if they’re off balance, it’s time to address them.

Who is the female pirate of 2018 and the future?

Again I’ve been so impressed by Chidera - The Slumflower. She came down to Livity and did a talk - she is a special woman, articulate and channels her anger masterfully. The way she speaks vociferously about complex issues such as trans-identity is incredible.

Name the quote you live by

‘You don’t know what don’t know’. I spent half of my professional career believing I knew everything. I later got over my ego and realised that my knowledge is really small when I put my ambitions into context. As humans we have no comprehension of what we don’t know. And that’s okay.

 

Check out what Sam is up to on his quest to build the #bemorepirate movement by following @samconniff on Instagram and Twitter.

THE FEMALE FOCUS SERIES: NICOLA KEMP

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Nicola Kemp, Trends Editor at Campaign

Nicola has been leaving a trail of positive impact behind her in setting a new agenda for the magazine. She’s punching age old sexism and gender equality right in the face of the marketing industry. We find out what drives her to push diversity beyond the soundbite.

I struggle with some of the stories we haven’t been able to tell

You’ve been covering marketing trends for over a decade. What about the industry keeps your attention?

I’ve always been hugely interested in consumer trends and technology, but for me it would be the people that keep my attention.

As a journalist what do you love and struggle with the most?

I struggle with some of the stories we haven’t been able to tell. And like most parents of young children I struggle with constantly feeling like I am not in the right place at the right time. But I love the opportunity to push for progress when it comes to working cultures in the industry and the opportunity to support and celebrate people doing really brilliant work.

What story are you most proud of?

This piece was important to me in highlighting that motherhood should not create a full stop for women’s careers.

And what is the greatest change in the industry you want to see?

I would like to see more honesty, humility and openness in how the industry addresses its challenges. The culture of NDA’s and workplace bullying must end.

The industry has a big pressure to address equality right now. For example, the IPA just announced it will introduce a code of conduct in the wake of the 'Top Five' email. Do you think the industry is doing enough and what, in your opinion, should help to solve this?

I think the industry could absolutely do more to push the diversity agenda beyond the soundbite and there is certainly an ‘action gap’ amongst certain companies when it comes to driving the diversity and inclusion agenda forward. As a white woman I am also very aware of the importance of intersectionality to true progress.

Sometimes I think there is a desire to ‘draw a line’ under bad behaviour as ‘one bad apple’ without properly addressing the underlying culture which enables this kind of behaviour to thrive. Key to this is creating a culture in which employees feel that they can truly speak up and that they won’t be penalised for it - but we are not there yet.

WPP’s horrendous treatment of Erin Johnson is quite simply shameful. Yet all too often it is the women speaking up, the whistleblowers, that are penalised. As an industry, advertising has a business and moral imperative to change this.

I’m confident that this change is coming, largely through the commitment of brilliant people in the industry pushing for change and the hard word of organisations like NABS and initiatives such as TimeTo. As individuals we also have a responsibility to call out bad behaviour and celebrate those who speak up.

Do you think the media have a responsibility to uncover these stories?

Yes, it is an immense privilege to be a journalist and to have a platform to give others a voice.

Speaking at the Creative Equals conference

Speaking at the Creative Equals conference

You've been demonstrably spearheading the gender equality agenda for Campaign for some time. Have you seen a positive reaction from the male audience as much as the female one?

There was a particularly memorable email in which a (male) reader complained I was trying to turn Campaign into Spare Rib, I keep meaning to frame it and put it in my downstairs loo. But honestly I haven’t seen a big split by gender; there are lots of brilliant men in the industry pushing for change and I don’t think your gender is a barrier to pushing for equality, diversity and inclusivity. Likewise being a woman doesn’t give you a free pass for turning a blind eye to bad behaviour, or worse still appropriating the language of inclusivity and feminism while steadfastly maintaining the status quo.

What do you think has taken so long for us to get to a point where the subject of equality and diversity is gaining a much needed platform?

The fact is that a lot of people in the advertising industry, like many others, have benefited greatly from the status quo, so they have a vested interest in maintaining it. I also see it as part of a broader shift towards transparency in business; we have seen it with the gender pay gap and we are beginning to see the impact of Glassdoor and Fishbowl.

Yet the uncomfortable truth is the marketing director of an agency in which almost every single employee review makes reference to the ‘old boys club for friends’ has no qualms in selling in a story to Campaign about how they are pushing the equality agenda. In this way the idea of change is used as a proxy for tangible change.

There was a particularly memorable email in which a (male) reader complained I was trying to turn Campaign into Spare Rib. I keep meaning to frame it and put it in my downstairs loo.

The rise of #metoo and #timesup has created an important opening in discussion on gender equality but it has also put fear into young women of what they may expect to experience in the working world. What would you say to those wanting to pursue a career in advertising /marketing?

Now is the time to make a difference. There has never been a better time to be a young woman in advertising because it has never been such a business imperative to challenge stereotypes and change business cultures.

What are you reading at the moment?

Silicon States by Lucie Greene and Dogs Don’t Do Ballet by Anna Kemp

Who do you look up to in the industry?

There are too many people to name them all, but Amelia Torode, Helen Calcraft, Ali Hanan, Sulaiman Khan, Robyn Frost, Nat Turton, Dan Shute, Gemma Greaves, Ade Onilude and Jemima Bokaie are always at the top of my list. And of course Cindy Gallop; it is truly incredible what she does behind the scenes; the emails, the support, the encouragement that she gives to women in our industry that have gone through some truly horrific experiences. The industry owes her a huge debt of gratitude.

If you weren't doing this, you'd be....

Pottering around writing books, looking for all the odd socks that have inexplicably gone AWOL in our house and campaigning for flexible working.

Check out what Nicola’s up to at Campaign in pushing the equality agenda forward here and follow here on Twitter @nickykc.

FREELANCER LONELINESS AND HOW TO TACKLE IT

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Small Business talks to Claudia

She shares her experience of freelance life, the loneliness of it and tips on how to combat it.

Freelancers cannot be lazy when it comes to overcoming solitude. Like new business, it’s part of the job and one that you can’t pick up and drop down. It needs to be part of your routine.

Claudia set up CLO PR 18 months ago and overcoming loneliness was the hardest part of the new job. The worst thing is not having anybody to bounce ideas off so you’re just left wondering if what you’re doing is actually any good or if it’s all rubbish. As a team player, this didn’t sit well with her. Check out out how she overcame it.

http://smallbusiness.co.uk/freelancer-loneliness-isolation-2545287/