OH HI BOYS

13Aug2018LowRes-39 (1).jpg

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.

Screen Shot 2018-11-13 at 17.57.57.png

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

Screen Shot 2018-07-31 at 16.36.34.png

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

Sam Library - Lower Res.png

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.

Sam at Young Progress Makers - High Res.png

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.

Screen Shot 2018-10-23 at 12.22.13.png

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.

Sam Talking - Lower Res.png

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

Kemp Nicola_006 2.jpg

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

Screen Shot 2018-09-13 at 17.13.09.png

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/

THE FEMALE FOCUS SERIES: ELIZABETH BANANUKA

If you run a business and you understand the importance of diversity but aren’t doing anything about it, what’s the matter with you? To me it’s simple: you’re either the agency of the past or the future.

What drove you to create BME PR Pros?

I started thinking about the diversity issue in 2015 when I attended a panel event on global communications and international development. I was the only black person in an audience of more than 100 white comms professionals. It struck me that there was a real disconnect and underrepresentation of ethnic minorities in the industry. But more than that, a complete irony given the discussion focus – reporting stories from the global south. From there, my frustration snowballed. I went to events put on by the PR community purporting to challenge the diversity problem but I found many were disempowering, vacuous or both. Diversity always seemed to be attached to some kind of reward or CSR initiative. I realised that nothing is going to change through a trickle of quarterly meetings and – in my opinion – some pretty poor initiatives.

I felt I could do better and lift the game on how BMEs are viewed and I wanted to root for talented BME PR professionals. It still surprises me that in such a creative industry, diversity has not been tackled. I suspect a lot of agencies - big and small – don’t want to see change. Don’t get me wrong, I know incredible agencies doing great work where they just get it. But, to me, the Weber Shandwick’s, Golin’s Manifest London’s, M & C Saatchi PR’s, Ketchum’s, Dynamo’s, Cirkle’s et al are the exception and not the rule. I believe far too many don’t show a will for it. And there is such a low benchmark for what we consider to be effective diversity initiatives.

I believe if an agency had a dream client knocking on their door with golden budgets but the deal was pinned to creating a diverse team of people, that agency would find those BME candidates. It’s sad that money could be the rare incentive to change the status quo.

Here’s the thing; the business case for diversity has been pushed for years and years. If you run a business and you understand the importance of diversity but aren’t doing anything about it, what’s the matter with you? To me it’s simple: you’re either the agency of the past or the future.

What's the biggest lesson you've learnt from starting up BME PR Pros?

I’ve learnt the lesson of self-belief. The ability to do something entirely on your own. I’ve worked ridiculous hours, unfunded. I currently pay for every aspect of BME PR Pros including the website myself and with no-one next to me to make this initiative a reality. I’ve made no room for self-doubt, I’ve tried to believe that it’s going to be amazing. It’s not like an entrepreneur setting up a business is eager to fail or launch a mediocre business! I’ve had to force myself to believe I could do something good that would work. I couldn’t afford – financially, emotionally, mentally – to consider failure.

It’s been a very lonely business but I believe there is a whole load of talented BME PR Pros out there and I felt it was important to celebrate them and I felt compelled to do it. I still do. Being a consultant, I have much more freedom to make this work and I can talk uncensored and unfiltered. I am able to be authentic and vocal about BME issues. We work in a vanilla and muted sector, where some employers I’ve had would be very uncomfortable around the topic and wouldn’t have been happy to have me doing what I’m doing with BME PR Pros. I feel I have a responsibility not to censor myself for the good of other BME PRs striving to progress.

What's been the biggest milestone so far?

The happiest moment was on 4th December last year when the BME PR Pros / PRWeek Mentoring Scheme mentors got together for the first time for the PRWeek photoshoot to accompany a feature on the launch. Seeing these passionate, talented, generous, diverse individuals come together, who had taken a leap of blind faith to be part of the scheme and my little initiative, brought it to life for me.

It’s interesting that my biggest milestones around this come down to human interactions. Yes, it’s great the website has now had 100k hits in just over 7 months but to me, it’s the human stuff. It’s having a Skype chat with a BME going through a tough time and getting an email later to find out you’ve made a difference. Or hearing the impact our mentors are having on the careers of the mentees. Or the emails - I can get up to 100 a week- from BMEs saying how inspired they are by the mentors and mentees. Or genuine diversity champions that have heard me and got me, got what I’m trying to do and supported it. Shout out to Colin Byrne and Rachel Friend at Weber Shandwick who were there before I even had a website. That’s the stuff I care for. That’s the stuff that affects me and keeps me going.

The lack of diversity is well-documented in the PR industry. What do you think is the biggest barrier to people of colour getting in and what should businesses be doing to tackle this?

Too many recruitment practices are flawed and old fashioned and too many recruiters don’t get it. It’s a weird sector - we perpetuate the myth of how we see talent and what colour we’ve decided talent must come in. The PR industry wants candidates to assimilate to the cookie cutter profiles made in the past and there is no BME-shaped cutter to use. Too many recruitment processes are subjective. Take the NHS, it’s interesting that when it comes to medical staff and the skills needed being black and white (pun intended) then the staff are very diverse. Then you step into a comms team within the NHS and other healthcare organisations and the comms teams are very white. That is weird to me. How can we have so many agencies and organisations with massive comms teams in a city as diverse as London and yet the sector is 91% white? I think that’s weird and I think anyone that doesn’t think that’s weird, is weird.

Why can a Nigerian guy be a doctor in the NHS but not a Director of Communications? Or a girl with a hijab a dentist but not a Head of News? It’s really simple: if BMEs don’t apply for your jobs then you need to rethink your recruitment practices. If you have a BME retention problem, you need to look at your working culture. I’m not willing to accept that talent is not there. This is not a BME problem but a sector problem.

I am very aware that many of my white counterparts will have access to more opportunities than my BME counterparts. There is also a BME pay gap – not just in PR but across sectors – and it is much larger than the gender pay gap. And it’s not easy being a lone BME in a large organisation.

Screen Shot 2018-09-11 at 19.44.49.png

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 PR?

Prejudice and discrimination shouldn’t impact your dreams. I always say to BMEs just starting out that they deserve to have the same dreams and aspirations as a straight, middle class, home counties white guy from Oxbridge. Yep, maybe they’ll face more obstacles and their starting line may be further back, but they too are entitled to have the biggest dreams and aspirations.


It feels like female solidarity is slowly starting to crest a wave. Do you think women are feeling more confident to stand up and be heard right now?

I do. We have a lot to thank Twitter for. It’s been a powerful campaigning tool for minorities, women, LGBTQ and many others. And not to mention some vocal individuals (a shout-out to Reni Eddo-Lodge, Afua Hirsch and Laura Bates). Our sector needed it. Women have been on the receiving end of atrocious harassment by some agency staff, journalists and clients – I can tell you some horror stories. I also think a lot of agencies need to be much more responsible for guiding young people. And of course, there’s a strong drinking culture and an expectation on young staff to ‘look after’ clients at client parties and award ceremonies. Young people are vulnerable to the pressures to perform both professionally and socially and I think the sector needs to be kinder to them.


You hold down a day job on top of building BME PR Pros. If this side-project turned into something greater, would you be eager to give up the day job?

I wouldn’t give up my freelance life altogether, but I’d love to get to a sustainable position where I could be working on BME PR Pros in working hours, rather than my evenings and weekends. I don’t want to exploit the format though, this initiative is non-profit making and is driven by a mission to support BMEs in the sector. To me, it’s about ensuring our talented BME mentees get the careers they deserve and the sector gets to benefit from their talent. I want it to be pure. I’ve been overwhelmed by the desire of people to help. Over 130 people have offered to be volunteers just this year and I’ve struggled with the demand. I’m not keen on exploiting BMEs and wouldn’t want anyone to work free.

I need to find a balance. I didn’t get into this to fall into volunteer management but I don’t want to close the door on goodwill and support. I came up with this sitting alone in my flat. Naïve – perhaps – but I just saw myself working with clients and then in my free time organising events, developing initiatives and uploading web content. I started working alone in January 2017 because for years, when I tried to work with others, they either weren’t interested, couldn’t or didn’t want to give the time or they just didn’t get it. So, I worked on it solo and I got used to that. It never occurred to me others would want to get involved and I didn’t plan for it.

Working solo is exhausting but working by committee can be too slow a process for someone like me. I feel a sense of urgency around this and don’t want to waste valuable time on bureaucracy, meetings and minutes.

I also don’t want to create a new diversity echo chamber where the BME issue is dominated by me. My ideal is that others are inspired to create their own initiatives and in 18 months BME PR Pros won’t have to exist and I can finally sleep.

I have a responsibility not to censor myself for the good of other BME PRs striving to progress

What's the one thing that's shocked you in your mission to raise the profile of diversity?

Well, to be honest, it’s the number of people who want to get involved for their own profile or the profile of their business. I’m not for sale. I’ve been careful who I work with and interact with because my integrity is important to me. My primary audience are BME PR Pros. I can’t and won’t sell them out for an agency with an appalling diversity track record wanting to throw money at me. Every diversity champion I shout out has – to me – passed the BME PR Pros unspoken code. They’re beyond the tedious, boring, kill me now “why is diversity important” nonsense. They get it, are doing something and want to do more.

For all the wonderful stuff that has come out of this, I also see and hear some pretty awful stuff. It’s a constant reminder that diversity is far from fixed. PR is still very old-fashioned and for me, there’s a confidence issue. There are far too many people scared to voice an opinion away from the norm and too weak or indifferent to create change.

I don’t think diversity is challenging but I do think lack of opportunity, the gender pay gap, the BME pay gap, inequality, prejudice and lack of opportunity are. If you live in a diverse city like London but find diversity in the workplace challenging, well I think you need to ask yourself some tough questions.


Where do you get your inspiration?

I’ve got lots of good people around me to inspire me every day. My parents are amazing and both very different – a perfect combination of ying and yang. We came over here as immigrants and my mum has worked very hard to put me in a place with loads more opportunities than she had herself at my age. My family is a bit of an oddity as we’ve never really fitted in. Unlike other relatives who are Rwandan, Tanzanian or Ugandan, we are a mix. And unlike other relatives we are the only ones here. I’m aware how freeing it can be to not fit in but also how divisions can lead to such horror. My Dad lost family to Idi Amin (there’s a road in Uganda called ‘Bananuka Drive’ as a tribute to my paternal grandfather) and my Mum lost relatives in the Rwandan genocide. I guess this motley background has shaped my thinking and the fighting spirit of family members inspires me.

My friend Nyree Connell is another person. She always rooted for and respected me professionally and she got BME PR Pros immediately. And Daljit Bhurji has been incredibly generous with his advice - I would have lasted but a day in PR without his unflinching encouragement.

I’m also inspired by grassroots diversity initiatives. I love the work of Women in PR and Ethan Spibey’s work on InterComms. I love what Krish Jeyakumar and Rowan Ellis are doing with Ruckus Retreat and Mercedes Benson with Social Fixt.

And of course, there’s all the positive feedback about the initiative, which keeps me going and inspires me.

Finally a quote which hangs on my wall, “If I knew that the world would end tomorrow, I would still plant new apple trees today”. There are different versions of it and some are attributed to Martin Luther and others to Martin Luther King Junior but this is my favourite version.

What's in store for the cause this year?

The plan is a whole load of new content for the website, a really big initiative which scares me but I need to keep telling myself “you can and will do it and it will be amazing”. And a series of panel events like we did last year. We’ve also got a high scale conference scheduled for spring next year which I am very excited about but I would be ruining the surprise to tell you more about it now!


Find out what the BME PR Pros are up to next by catching up with them on Instagram & Twitter!


THINKING IS GOOD. TALKING IS GREAT. DOING IS BEST.

13Aug2018LowRes-39.jpg

A Manifesto powered by CLO PR and Mac&Moore

CLO PR and Mac&Moore have teamed up to turn words into actions and to alter the landscape for the next generation of women in work. We have created a manifesto and an action plan based on three pillars of doing things properly, doing things differently and creating a platform for people on their way up.

If every journey begins with a single step, this manifesto is ours. We’ve thought about the route, planned the journey, talked about how we’ll get there, so there’s nothing left for us to do except for getting started. We want to create long-lasting, impactful and infrastructural change across both traditional workplace structures and the new but rapidly developing freelance economy.

A united front

Why bother teaming up at all? We’re both established businesses working in the worlds of marketing and PR, why not just get on with it ourselves? CLO PR creates positive impact through targeted and award-winning PR, allowing businesses to be kick-started and reach their target audiences in a long-lasting, memorable way. Mac&Moore currently provide creative and strategic marketing to businesses of all sizes who want to create strong foundations and truly stand out from their competitors. We feel that through the complementary skill sets of the two businesses, alongside a matching mind-set, our efforts will be far more powerful united. We’re hoping it won’t stop there, with several other tactical partnerships in the pipeline.

We must start somewhere

We’ve chosen to create an action plan in distinct, specific areas where we feel like we can make the biggest difference. No one can do everything, but everyone can do something, and that’s where we want to start. By recognising the individual areas in which we can create the biggest ripples of change, we’re striving for those ripples to reach out and connect with others to create waves.

Creating positive action

The core function of both Mac&Moore and CLO PR is to work closely alongside businesses who are looking to build something great. We are never afraid to challenge the status quo, confront the thought process behind certain ‘norms’ and tackle the potential issues blocking brands from achieving explosive growth and success. It, therefore, made absolute sense for the focus of our actions to be in this space. We’re working closely with some incredible businesses looking to create supportive, successful and inclusive cultures that allow all people to thrive and contribute. To do that, we’ve had to recognise and identify the problem areas and work together to resolve them. This can be difficult and uncomfortable at times, but no real change started without a little discomfort. By confronting issues head on and engaging people, rather than isolating them, we can create sustainable impact.

We need to ensure these businesses are built on solid foundations, and here to last, so that this better way of working can benefit future generations, not just our own. As three individuals we are also incredibly experienced in our separate but connected fields, and that’s why we're stepping in as a trusted voice with the right tools to share our knowledge. We aim to build a bridge to allow others to succeed in this present and precarious climate.

13Aug2018LowRes-44.jpg

Our manifesto is built on the following three pillars:

DOING THINGS PROPERLY 

- There is so much choice out there now that the working world is changing and evolving. Our extensive experience can help build trust in clients and partners.

- The value of partnerships. We curate strong teams with the right skills to do the job properly.

- We’re always learning. The traditional training/career paths offer learning and development but where do you go to advance your knowledge when you work for yourself? We can help both each other and acting as a trusted source of information for juniors stepping into the field. We’ve been inspired by so many others creating specific, positive change in their own fields already such as The Other Box, 72 and Sunny and many more.

DOING THINGS DIFFERENTLY

- Always challenging our own bias and echo chambers by listening and opening ourselves up to the experiences of others

- Stepping out of the London bubble, we recognise that successful businesses and people thrive outside it. We want to support those who are looking to take their business to the next level

- Engaging and including men in the conversation, not isolating them. We recognise the reality of the current state of play and by working together to educate, inspire and empower, we can make the best progress towards real, tangible and sustainable change

A PLATFORM FOR PEOPLE ON THEIR WAY UP

- Providing workshops, resources, mentorship and events to those working in the freelance or small business community

- Offering the social stop gap that is currently missing when you work for yourself (watch this space for a very exciting festive event coming soon where we’ll be partnering with the glorious Jess Sims at The Doers to make some serious magic!)

- Championing and hero'ing people who are doing incredible things in their field but who might be on the tipping point of achieving amazing success and need a bit of help to get them there.

We are really excited to get cracking, please get in touch and let us know if you want to be involved or have any thoughts … there’ll be plenty of opportunities to connect and collaborate along the way.

In the meantime, make sure you’re following both @weareclopr and @macandmoore on all the socials to make sure you don’t miss a minute… and while you’re there you should 100% follow @thedoersUK as well!

Love and all the good vibes,

Claudia, Nat & Jess 

POSITIVE IMPACT IN ACTION: MIKE STEVENS

Mike Stevens.JPG

MIKE STEVENS, CO-FOUNDER OF PEPPERSMITH

We caught up with Mike, who met his co-founder Dan at innocent, before setting up challenger confectionary company Peppersmith. He tells us why they saw an opportunity to bring positive impact to the category with healthy, sustainable products. There's also a job ad within!

Peppersmith has stayed relevant because we make consistently good products and are true to our values. We try and be human in everything we do.
IMG_1493.jpg

You guys started out at innocent before setting up Peppersmith. Did Innocent teach you some valuable lessons?

For sure. Our time at innocent definitely gave us an unfair advantage. We were involved for a long time in a company which figured out its own rules as it went along and was true to a core set of values. Being immersed in such a dynamic and ultimately successful business gave us the knowledge, experience and confidence that we could do it all again in another part of store.

What drove you to set up Peppersmith?

Working at innocent Dan and I noticed a profound change in just about all food and drink categories. There was a firm shift towards better made, more natural, more healthy sustainable products with a strong brand to tell the story. This was something we understood well from our time at innocent. There was, however, one exception to this, which was the confectionery category. In this area, things were just not moving with the times. It was the same old high volume, low cost junk, which had been around for years. The insight was that if all other food and drink products were fundamentally changing why should confectionery be any different? We then set out to test our belief that the need for better made products applied to all categories including confectionery. 

What has surprised you most about the process?

Good: The help, time and support other challenger companies and the entrepreneurs give to each other. We seem to share a mission and desire to make better products, give people a better experience and ultimately make things a bit more enjoyable. This spirt means that everyone is always happy to help with each other’s challenges.

Bad: The time it actually takes to make anything meaningful happen.

What has been the thing you've most struggled with that you've had to overcome?

Lack of funds. This definitely makes things harder than working for a bigger organisation. Every step we make seems to be a huge investment and/or a big gamble. This raises the stakes and means that failure hurts a lot more than simply getting a telling off by your boss.

IMG_7837.jpg

If you could turn back time, would you do anything differently?

Experience is a good teacher but everything we do is a judgement call based on the information we have at that particular moment in time. Unless its feels like you are making the wrong decision at the time and then you are proved right there should never be any regrets.

Have you needed to raise investment? If so, what piece of advice would you give others looking to do the same?

Yes we have, we needed the cash. My advice is that selling the dream is easier than selling reality. So either raise cash right at the start or when you are sure you are onto a good thing. 

What's the one thing you'd like to change about the food industry?

Retailers having more resources to spend working with challenger brands. In our experience it's not that the retailers don’t want to bring new brands and products into their portfolios, it is just too often a low priority as they don’t have the time or incentive required to do this properly.

We absolutely love the brand here at CLO PR. Why do think it has remained so popular?

I think it's stayed relevant for a number of reasons. Firstly, we make sure we make consistently good products and are true to our values. This means we gain trust. And we try and be human and relatable in everything we do, which I think means that more people are willing to believe in our mission. 

Where do you get your inspiration?

Great people doing great things and being successful. Whether it’s Ben Fogle climbing Everest or Pip & Nut winning another listing, we use this admiration and excitement as fuel for our own fire. 

What's the best thing about working for yourself?

No bureaucracy or politics getting in the way of getting on with the real task at hand.

Who do you admire?

Anyone who is prepared to stick their neck out to do the right thing.

What is Peppersmith up to this year?

We have some exciting new listings coming up, so it's all hands on deck to make sure they are a success. We are also building the team, so anyone out there who likes mints, dislikes the status quo and has an entrepreneurial calling should get in touch.

If you weren't doing what you do now, you'd be....

Something as equally as challenging and possibly as ill advised.

Find out more about what Peppersmith are up to here.