diversity

Bias. Do you know yours?

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The diversity conversation in the workplace is an uncomfortable one. And so it should be.

A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to attend a workshop hosted by The Other Box, a platform aimed at enlightening and empowering people to work and live more inclusively. Led by 2 brilliant women of colour, Leyya and Roshni, the organisation combines their lived experience of everyday exclusion and tokenism with academic knowledge of racism, intersectionality and radical histories of colonialism to challenge the lack of diversity in the workplace and make it more than a box-ticking exercise.

I was keen to attend the ‘Know your bias’ workshop to find out more about the issues at play for people of colour, and people from other underrepresented backgrounds and learn techniques to address them actively. Let’s face it; for many organisations, these are difficult conversations we often shy away from at work. If you follow CLO PR, you’ll know that we’re passionate about lifting women up and inculcating diversity measures for ourselves and for partners and clients. We aim to be part of the conversation. Personally, I have an urge to learn about people and the spaces and feelings I don’t inhabit myself. The workshop was a great taster on understanding our own bias better and to open up a greater understanding of the complexity of the issue in the workplace. It was incredibly useful in teaching us to question first impressions and open up our minds to why we may favour one perspective over another, especially when it comes to interacting with people from diverse backgrounds.


We learnt not to fall into the trap of buying into ‘a single story’. Instead, to make an effort to listen to different perspectives to broaden our outlook. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie speaks about the danger of a single story in this video, highlighting that everyone is prone to holding on to one story about a person - her included - when in reality their story is always different. We touched on language and to be mindful of the impact on others. Even basic questions and phrases can be inappropriate if you don’t take context and individual experiences into account. If there was someone wearing a long sleeved top on a hot day I would have probably asked them if they were hot, without questioning the reason why they’ve chosen to wear it. They may need to hiding something from the world that is no business of mine to intrude and highlight.

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As a group we came up with a long set of actions and here are some that I am going to be taking positive action on immediately:

1. Diversify inner circle and teams:

We did an exercise which highlighted how white, middle-class and identical my personal inner circle of my most trusted people are. It’s time to work hard in broadening the tapestry of my inner circle and teams to reflect society. Through friendships, collaborations and mentor programmes I can try to make a difference.

2. Equity vs. Equality:

Equity involves trying to understand and give people what they need to enjoy full, healthy lives. Equality, in contrast, aims to ensure that everyone gets the same things in order to enjoy full, healthy lives. Like equity, equality aims to promote fairness and justice, but it can only work if everyone starts from the same place and needs the same things. So, one thing I can do immediately is be flexible and adaptable in how I work with my mentees and freelancers I manage, with the understanding they will need support tailored to them as individuals.

3. Be conscious of asking questions:

Make sure questions aren’t loaded with assumptions. I am so very guilty of this. It comes back to remembering that a person doesn’t have a single story. Creating conversation that allows them to open up about themselves than posing direct questions can help.

4. Be a more conscious ally and encourage others in the team:

I learnt when I was mentoring as part of You Make It the importance of being an ally to my mentee, a young woman of colour. I have been supporting her build her contact list and professional advice to help boost her confidence and career direction. But it shouldn’t stop there. In situations where I am with other women of colour, I must ensure their voices are heard by all.

5. Consume new diverse media:

Working in PR, it’s our absolute duty to be ahead of the curve and under the skin of all media in all sectors and industries, and now intersectional. We need to listen other voices, not just our own. Leyya and Roshni helpfully gave us a shortlist of media to consume that are representational but there are loads more: gal-dem, Amaliah, This Ability, Pride in London.

But most of all, it’s about not sitting still. We need to be constantly learning and listening. We were advised to do the Harvard Implicit Association Test, which delves into your thoughts and feelings outside of your conscious awareness and control. I, along with everyone else, need to approach situations with empathy, considering other perspectives, not just mine. It’s important to remember that The Other Box have created a judgement-free safe zone as part of the Know Your Bias experience specifically because real life outside the workshop space is not a judgement-free zone. Without the context and careful laying-down of groundwork that happens in the workshop, we could very well end up alienating those around us, those who haven’t been part of the inclusive, nurturing workshop environment.

Thank you again to Leyya and Rosh for a thoughtful afternoon. I definitely know my bias more. It’s time to take action.




THE FEMALE FOCUS: EMMA SEXTON

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Meet Emma, Serial entrepreneur and Connector

She is the epitome of the word ‘entrepreneur’ and we’re never sure how she makes time to run her business MYWW™, present on talkRADIO for The Badass Women’s Hour, advise at board level on design strategy to brands and businesses, feature as Creative Pool Top 100 Influencer 2017 & 2018 and take up the post of Creative In Residence at King's College, London, Entrepreneurial Institute. Phew!

I am a bit tired of businesses who decide on a set of values to operate by and decorate them onto a wall but in reality they never get authentically lived

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

I can’t remember anyone specifically but there were lots of people I admired for different reasons. There were those who intrigued me and had attributes of the person I wanted to become. I suppose I was drawing up my own human Pinterest board. I don’t mean celebrities, I mean people I looked up to and thought, “I want to do that one day”. I was aware of a theme I was drawn to and it was those running a business or a person’s mindset towards life.

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

As much as I had a great upbringing I don’t think I was exposed to enough of the world as a child. I lived in a very comfortable bubble. My desire to go to London and then to finally move here really opened up my world. I had never felt like I fitted because I know I wanted to experience a very different life than what I was seeing around me. I couldn’t identify with them in many ways and I really struggled with that. I sometimes wonder what I would be doing differently had I grown up around more diverse people, lifestyles and culture, for instance.

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You’re a business founder, a broadcaster, a speaker and connector and you don’t have an office. How do you create a culture amongst the people you work with?

I can’t count the times I’ve heard people say, “if we don’t have an office, we don’t have a culture”. This couldn’t be further from the truth. At MYWW™, our culture is built on the way we communicate - it is about how we interact with each other, be that face-to-face or via a smartphone. I am a bit tired of businesses who decide on a set of values to operate by and decorate them onto a wall but in reality they never get authentically lived. From the very first day I started my business the culture has been focused on being respectful to one another. We embrace candour and honesty and make sure we have the difficult conversations. We also just get the fucking work done while weaving our lives around our client’s needs. There have definitely been some learnings mastering this approach but it works. It’s a culture we can sustain because it is authentic and people can thrive as individuals.

You’re a propagator for pushing real women’s conversations into the mainstream and redesigning ‘business as usual’ to make it better, not just for women but for everyone. What would be the first thing you’d do in your redesign?

I feel like I am doing it all the time by allowing people to weave life into their work and challenging our traditional ‘masculine’ approach to business. As an employee you are often a resource - there to make someone else more money while the business interest is in paying you the least. I stand by a people first, business second principle. I do not have a business without great people so my job is to keep my team content so they can do the best job for our clients. Happy team = happy client!

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

A lack of consciousness. It’s about consciousness versus unconsciousness. If you’re unconscious you’re only seeing the world from your point view. If you’re conscious you learn that there are things you haven’t experienced that others have and you try really hard to understand this as best you can. We have lived in a very one dimensional society for so long and it’s high time we all listen more, raise our awareness and massively dial up our empathy.

What does ‘badass’ mean to you?

For me, it’s about living life on your terms. It’s about being authentic, seeing multiple dimensions to one thing and choosing the one that fits with you and how you want your life to be.

You are positive impact personified! What have been some of the most positive results you’ve seen from the work you do?

It makes me happy that I can make my staff happy. Recently, one of my employees told me that MYWW™ has changed her life. She’s always worked agency-side and was never able to balance work with looking after her child. Now, she can do pick-up from school, work at home when she chooses and vary the times of days she works. She’s happier, less stressed, and no longer feeling like she’s torn between two worlds. That’s important to me. The more money I make the more I can help others live happier work lives. Work has become such a cumbersome thing where people end up self medicating at the weekend and head towards extremes to escape their working lives. It doesn’t have to be this way. I had read so much about better ways to work and what we need to be happy human beings, now I am practicing it rather than talking about it and always happy to share my learnings with anyone else who wants to know how to make it work for them.

(Being a badass) is about living life on your terms

How do you keep learning more whilst on the many jobs you have?

I think having a mindset that the more I know the more I realise I don’t know! And you don’t have a choice to keep learning if you want to have a successful business! I am a work in progress and want to keep evolving even if I am 90 years old. As the business changes, I change with it. As I change, the business changes. The day I don’t want to learn is probably the day I am done with 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?

Resilience; overcoming fear of rejection; sheer bloody mindedness!

Where do you get your inspiration?

People always inspire me. There are lots of different sources and I keep it varied in the types of people I interact with. Working with the ventures at King’s in my role as Expert in Residence on their award winning accelerator scheme has opened up my eyes to new ideas, technology and fresh business perspectives. Every year, through the initiative, I meet over 40 of some of the smartest entrepreneurs from all the over the world - I gain so much from my sessions with them.

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You’re constantly interviewing interesting women on a weekly basis as part of the Badass Women’s Hour. Who's a woman to watch or someone you admire in 2019?

We had an amazing author on, called Tomi Adeyemi, who is the author of the very successful book ‘Children of Blood and Bone’. Her interview was so inspiring so she was one (of so many guests) who really stood out for me. Tomi is only 21 and tipped to be next JK Rowling. She had always really wanted to be an author and hearing her journey of how she went from quitting her job to getting the book published was really special. As a teenager she’d been fixated with fiction but could never identify with it because of her African heritage. She’s rewritten for the genre from her perspective.

 

Name the quote you live by

“The world will not invite you to the feast. You must burst in, demand a seat, and take it.” John Carlton

I realised early on that no one was going to go, ‘here you go Emma, here’s all the opportunities you are waiting so patiently for’, so I got my head down, decided what I wanted and worked bloody hard to get them all - but I am not stopping yet!

Keep up to date with what Emma does next (we’re sure there’ll be something exciting) on Twitter and Instagram.



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.

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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!


THE FEMALE FOCUS SERIES: ASMA SHAH, CEO, YOU MAKE IT

We met the firecracker, Asma Shah, who set up charity You Make It to empower young unemployed women to realise their potential regardless of their background. CLO PR is part of the charity's mentorship scheme to support some of the cohort to build confidence and skills in PR and publicity. We loved talking to Asma. She tells us straight the situation of fighting for true diversity in business and society.

We help to give women self-worth and a sense of entitlement to improve their personal and professional lives. Sisterhood is built into our programme.
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1.     What drove you to set up You Make It? 

My upbringing was such that I was raised by my single mum in Peckham on a council estate. My mum originally came to this country from Pakistan with my father and my 2 older sisters and myself and older sister were born here. She left a violent marriage while in London and welived in a refuge. From that moment on, my mum forged a successful career in education in which people believed in her and encouraged her to achieve against all the odds. Her determination for us to have a good start in life is what inspired me to set up You Make It. 

Once out of university I got into the creative industry but was struck by the sheer density of white privilege and I found myself losing out on promotions next to my peers. 2011 was the beginning of austerity in this country and I saw how people with backgrounds like mine were falling through the cracks in employment and support. This was topped with many years living inthe East End, where I saw how the divide between rich and poor had begun to build, with coffee shops never employing women of colour. In the aftermath of my mum passing, and the reflection this provoked her struggles and those of myself and sisters, I decided it was time to change what I was seeing around me and propel women’s lives against the odds. 

2.     What has surprised you most about the women who come through You Make It? 

Nothing. I am like them. I’m 44 now and know what it’s like to grow up in difficult circumstances. Women are resilient and strong. What does surprise me, though, is that the women who come through are not jumped on by employers. Statistics highlight that unemployment has dropped in London but this is not the case for black and Asian demographics. We’ve got a long way to go. I think Brexit and the Windrush scandal have started to show that people are acknowledging racism as real.

3.     What do you think is the biggest value women gain from You Make It?

We help to give women self-worth and a sense of entitlement to improve their personal and professional lives. Sisterhood is built into our programme. These women have tiny circles of friends and contacts. They may have depression or have suffered abuse and neglect. We show them that they’re not alone. People in working class backgrounds are not exposed to lessons on how to build contacts - we help them to grow their network and their confidence. 

4.     What’s been your proudest moment since starting up You Make It?

Every graduation event is a proud moment. It’s when myself and the team are truly reminded why we’re doing this and hear the journeys the women have been on. It’s always a time when I think, ‘Oh my god, this works!’ and a chance to reflect on the fact that I took risks to set up a company with £3k, juggling paid work. The number of programmes we launch double every year and it’s still working.

5.     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 about to pursue a career?

On entering the workforce you’ve got to have a strong understanding of your self-worth. You Make It does exactly this - it coaxes it out of our cohorts. If you’re confident, you’ll be in a better position to challenge discrimination in the workplace. It’s important to be fearless. 

A You Make It member of the cohort presenting her business ideas to mentors.

A You Make It member of the cohort presenting her business ideas to mentors.

6.     Many women experience so called imposter syndrome. Is this something you’ve experienced and do you have any tips on managing it?

This is not just an issue of gender. Company management - particularly run by white middle class men - has a responsibility to build cultures that promote and reward people based on their merit, rather than just because you look and talk like them. 

7.     You Make It currently operates within the area of Hackney and Tower Hamlets. Are there plans to expand to other areas?

I have thought long and hard about building impact in other areas. However, we have created something in the East End, as I understand it and I am part of the community. We’re looking at ways of growing it by sharing knowledge of how we work with other organisations and how they can apply our model. Sharing what we do for others to do it feels right, otherwise we risk diluting our mission.

8.     Where do you get your inspiration?

My personal experience and being a responsible member of society by looking at inequality and deciding what needs to happen are both inspiring to me. Also, the women we work with inspire me - they make me carry on. There is an element of accountability and the need to contribute to the social and cultural capital we’re building together.

Company management has a responsibility to build cultures that reward people based on their merit, rather than just because you look and talk like them

9.     Who do you look up to?

Myself. I appreciate my background, of being one of 4 girls where there was not always an emotional focus on us as my mum was often working. I respect what I’ve managed to do from where I’ve come from. I also think ‘look up to’ is interesting - I believe we’re all equal and no one should look up to anyone.

10.  What plans does You Make It have in store this year?

As a charity, we’re fighting for survival. We have programmes locked down until the end of the year but it’s all about raising funds to continue the good work. We're focusing on a mix of traditional fundraising and partnering with organisations and sponsors for the 2019 programmes. We’ll be doing more thinking around how to share our model through a You Make It Knowledge Hub which will share practice with stakeholders who want to learn from us. 

http://www.you-make-it.org