womeninbusiness

THE FEMALE FOCUS: CAROLINE HAILSTONE

8H3A4332.JPG

Meet Caroline, a Content Writer, Journalist & Producer at The Fable Bureau and Pioneers Post

She’s a multi-hyphenate of our era, straddling roles at both the creative agency for social ventures as well as at the mission-driven magazine. She’s also an incredible musician, roaming the streets with her street orchestra collective. She’s an old colleague and we love what makes her tick. Read on!

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

My mum. As long as I’ve been alive she has always helped people in the community. She runs the local soup kitchen and always takes the load of everyone else. My friends at school too - they are ambitious and go-getting and still are.

Caroline on location for a production job

Caroline on location for a production job

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

Studies show that older siblings have more traditional roles, paving the way for their younger siblings to often do more creative things. That’s certainly true in my case. From a young age, my sisters and I were always encouraged to do everything drama to music. I was encouraged to do what I enjoyed. When I was at school, I realised early on that I was quite good at writing because my teachers would ask me to read out what I’d written to entire classrooms. I got to know that with writing you can tap into your non-thinking brain and not overthink so good stuff comes out.



You started your career in a marketing agency doing PR and social (with Clo)! What experiences did you develop there that have helped set you up for your role right now?

Loads of stuff - I definitely learnt the basics! I learnt to be strategic and I remember thinking, ‘why are we doing this campaign?’, ensuring that everything we did had an outcome. I also learnt how to do things on a smaller budget and the beauty of being creative with it, which has stood me in good stead in the area of social enterprise!

Caroline in action recording a podcast

Caroline in action recording a podcast

Pioneers Post is setting the agenda for the new wave of responsible business leaders and social entrepreneurs. What businesses have peaked your interest lately?

Hey Girls, which tackles period poverty, for sure. It’s a good reminder that strong branding and marketing are important in creating social change. The brand is beautiful, it’s got a cool edge, it sells really nice products and has an ethical supply chain. The CEO Celia Hodson is really cool too - she used to be deputy Chief Exec of Social Enterprise UK - and she’s created a family business heaped in purpose.



What are the main barriers for businesses and social enterprises creating positive impact in the UK?

Standing out. Brands like Innocent, who launched the very successful Big Knit campaign to raise money for Age UK, give knitted hats to old ladies, have tapped into the social change bit but are not a social enterprise. So some social enterprises struggle to stand out from commercial brands doing good.



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

It was interesting visiting the Diversity Forum recently. It’s a collective with a mission to drive inclusive social investment in the UK. Danyal Sattar, CEO of Big Issue Invest as well as John Bird, founder of the Big Issue spoke there. They told us about how the Big Issue was set up by the children of working class Irish immigrants, who saw themselves as diverse, but actually when they eventually looked around they realised they were full of white men.


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

Being part of the WISE 100 - Women in Social Enterprise Awards - has been really impactful in seeing change. WISE 100 brings 100 women together in a room and it’s like the FTSE 100 but for those in social enterprise. You see how passionate these women are to be a part of it and immense pride for being a woman in the space. I want to be a part of keeping these awards going, along with the passionate team I work with.


How do you keep learning more whilst on the job?

Sometimes it’s easy to keep a job easy when you know it inside out. But what keeps me on my toes are the monthly impact analysis meetings we have in place at The Fable Bureau / Pioneers Post. When we’ve made a film we will sit down together and assess as a team how we can make it better. It’s changed the way I think about doing my job and I am more conscious of how we can improve and get better.



Where do you get your inspiration?

At work I can get it from anywhere. In our meetings, we’ll bring films and documentaries that inspire us. I regularly go to galleries and concerts, which keep my mind ticking. I also play in Street Orchestra Live, where we play in hospitals and random places rather than concert halls. It takes away any sense of ego or any nervousness about making music, because it makes you realise that at the end of the day it should be about bringing people joy.

Street Orchestra Live

Street Orchestra Live


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

All my teammates are cool, strong women. All 7 of us are women apart from the CEO and we keep our boss on his toes. We also work with Ealing Community Transport, which is a really important service for those who are immobile and would otherwise be stuck at home. Their CEO Anna Whitty is very cool and she stands her ground in what is a male-dominated industry.



Name the quote you live by

There isn’t one particular quote I live by, though recently I like the song ‘Make Love to Your Mind’ by Bill Withers...it’s cool to think about people you meet that make you intrigued with their minds.

 

And if you’re a social enterprise reading this, get on board with Caroline and the Pioneers Post team for a day of marketing and communications workshops, including a key note from the awesome Sam Conniff Allende. It’s on 26th February, with more details here. Follow Caroline and the teams at Pioneers Post and The Fable Bureau on Twitter.

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: NATALIE MOORES

_DSC7244.jpg

NATALIE MOORES, CO-FOUNDER OF MAC&MOORE

 

 

The latest kick-ass woman for The Female Focus series features our friend and key partner Natalie (Nat). We're big believers in her and the business she shares with her partner Jess. We caught up with her on setting up Mac&Moore with her mate, the art of poetry and the importance of pushing for equality with attitude.

I do really hope that future generations can be inspired by women in all sorts of fields and industries. More representation means more inspiration!

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

Nat's mum as a young nurse

Nat's mum as a young nurse

There are a lot of strong women in my family, and I’ve always aspired towards being able to take my place amongst the ‘powerhouse pack’. My mum, in particular, always taught me to work hard and that you should always be able to rely on yourself, which has made me fiercely independent and I’m hugely grateful to her for that.

As incredible as it is to find amazing female role models within your own family, I do really hope that future generations can be inspired by women in all sorts of fields, industries and areas outside their immediate network. More representation means more inspiration!

What led you to start Mac&Moore?

I actually never imagined I would be running my own business when I first started out in the world of work. It was something so far removed from my field of vision that I never believed I could do it. Then, after working for a few years, gaining confidence and conviction in my own ideas I realised that there were a lot of things I wanted to do differently. The best way to do the work I wanted without having to navigate internal politics or have someone else ultimately responsible for your career was to start something myself. I think Jess and I met at exactly the right time and we often joke about me being the Yin to her Yang, but it’s true. We realised very early on that we complement each other’s skillsets and working styles and that meant we could bounce off each other and work in a more productive way than I ever had before. A business partnership needs work, just like any other relationship and we’ve always placed an importance on communication in order for us to get the best out of ourselves and each other.

Jess (Mac) and Nat (Moore) in Amsterdam

Jess (Mac) and Nat (Moore) in Amsterdam

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

I was always a book worm. I remember maxing out my library card every week and then my mum catching me reading with a torch under my duvet way after I should have been fast asleep. I think all those books gave me a real love for language, and a broad vocabulary (and a lot of dark circles under my eyes!). It seems to make sense now that I would be working with words, and I love experimenting with the way things sound when they are put together. I’m a published poet as well as running my business and I definitely think that playing around with words in a poetic format helps me bring something totally different to my clients.

How do you keep learning more whilst building a business?

I am a bit obsessed with learning. I did a Masters straight after my undergraduate degree and would love to do a PhD at some point (Dr. Moores, yes please!). But in the meantime I am always trying to advance my knowledge in some way. Feminism is very important to me and I am always trying to broaden my understanding of the world I live in … and learn how that world fits into the wider world. It’s confronting sometimes to step outside of your own echo chamber but so important to do. We also lived in Amsterdam for six months recently and I made myself go to all sorts of interesting events over there which was great. Jess and I attended an amazing negotiation workshop hosted by SheSays and FinchFactor, also the Creative Mornings were fab!

Nat, with her mum and auntie, known as 'The Clones'

Nat, with her mum and auntie, known as 'The Clones'

Where do you get your inspiration?

As the creative half, inspiration is vital to my day-to-day work, and I absolutely believe that it can come from the places you least expect. If I need to come up with a new idea I’ll quite often go for a walk. Sometimes being on the move and either trying to clear my head out completely or have a look around me and see if something stirs ends up creating the best work. Reading something that has absolutely no relevance to the project can also be useful so that you force yourself out of thinking in the same way or risking getting stuck on something that’s been done before. T.S Eliot said, ‘good writers borrow, great writers steal’ and I think if you’re stealing from somewhere completely unrelated and rewriting it to suit the goal you’re working on then the output can be magic.

Why do you promote equality with attitude? 

When we first started Mac&Moore we created the hashtag #GirlsDoneGood. At the time, it was a distilled way of describing ourselves, we had overcome a lot to get to the point of setting up our business and we wanted to be confident and celebrate that. As the business grew however, so did the number of other #GirlsDoneGood we wanted to champion and shout about, and it sort of transferred to being the starting point of a mission to go beyond client work and be fierce advocates for female empowerment. Two years on, we feel as though #GirlsDoneGood doesn’t go far enough. There’s deep-rooted injustice, discrimination and prejudice across cultural, racial and gender lines meaning that you can’t simply talk about one issue in isolation. So often the conversation about feminism excludes women of colour, trans women or disabled women, and we’re well aware that we need to constantly continue to learn and listen to ensure we’re advocating equality for everyone, not just anyone who looks like us.

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

I think there’s an element of acceptance missing. That comes from listening. A lot of people know that they ‘should’ be on board with gender equality and diversity now, but I’m not sure everyone actually believes in it wholeheartedly. I’ve seen plenty of conversations online or heard people still disputing the gender pay gap for example, which means there’s still work to do on education. People need to really listen to those around them who can offer a different perspective (whether that’s gender, race, culture or ability) and absorb what they hear without internalising it or getting defensive. That’s where a lot of these types of conversations break down and I think once we can move past that, it’ll be much easier to adopt and we’ll start to see a shift in the tide.

What advice can you give to businesses that want to make a mark through their marketing?

Don’t underestimate the power of great copywriting. A lot of business owners think they can write their own brand copy, and I totally appreciate that if costs are tight, most people can write far more proficiently than they can design, for example. But there’s a big difference between getting the words down on your website and those words persuading someone to buy from you, or get in touch, or even remember you. If you do go down the DIY route, make sure you’ve completely nailed your brand personality and tone of voice before you start so that what you write is reflective of your brand and always consistent. If you do have some budget to invest, get a skilled copywriter on board and you’ll see a big difference!

Performing poetry

Performing poetry

Name the best piece of marketing in your opinion and why?

I have always loved Guinness’ marketing. The very best ideas are so simple but they just work. The ‘Made of More’ campaign they did in association with English rugby was such a smart idea in its absolute sheer simplicity.

Similarly, The Fearless Girl campaign really packed a punch. That was a great example of the importance of context within marketing. Placed anywhere else, she wouldn’t have had the same impact, but by standing up to the charging Wall St bull, the conversation around gender equality and female empowerment was framed beautifully.

What's your biggest learning so far since starting Mac&Moore?

There have been two big ones and they almost contradict each other.

No one’s going to do it for you. There are so many different elements to running a business that you just don’t need to involve yourself in when you are employed by a big company. Both Jess and I wear a LOT of different hats, and sometimes that can feel exhausting. When you’ve spent your whole day working on a project and have to spend an evening catching up on finances or filing it can feel never-ending. But no one is going to do it for us … and I wouldn’t trade what I’m doing now for the world!

Go with the flow. Mac&Moore has been our sole source of income since day one, so we really took the plunge. That means some pretty scary days when you’re not sure where the next bit of work is coming from, or if a client doesn’t pay your invoice on time. It takes a lot of practice not to freak out in these moments, and remember that the most important thing to do is continue focusing on providing great work… things have a habit of working themselves out and stressing yourself into a stomach ulcer is not going to be useful to anyone.

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

I really enjoy Marisa Bate’s writing for The Pool. I think what that platform has done in general is really inspiring. They’ve changed the game on ‘writing for women’ and proved that you can still publish articles about the best moisturisers without assuming it’s all we care about. The variety of content displayed and the subject matter is engaging, compelling and I usually start every day reading their email in bed!

I also think Amika George has done an incredible job raising awareness and driving action around period poverty. I first discovered her whilst researching our #20GirlsDoneGood campaign early this year and have been following her progress with great interest. It just goes to show that you’re never ‘too young’ to be taken seriously and I think she’s an amazing role model for girls everywhere not to tolerate injustice and to take action when something about the world angers them!

Name the quote you live by.

‘Above all, be the heroine of your own life, not the victim’ – Nora Ephron

‘We must be swift as the coursing river, with all the force of a great typhoon, with all the strength of a raging fire, mysterious as the dark side of the moon’ – Mulan (I know this song is about how to ‘make a man’, but I love flipping it on its head and think it’s a great motivator and basically how I would love to be described!)

Find out more about our most prized partners, Mac&Moore here.

IT'S TIME TO SUPPORT WOMEN ON THEIR WAY UP

“Lack of confidence”…

“Uncertain of my direction”…

“I’ve been lucky, it’s not down to my skills”…

Sound familiar? If you’re a girl or a woman, these feelings might resonate. The imposter syndrome – the feeling that we don’t belong at the decision-making table - is not a buzzword, it’s endemic. And even the most senior and talented women know this from experience. Dr. Pauline R. Clance and Dr. Suzanne A. Imes coined it in 1978 and countless women have reportedly experienced the phenomenon of self-perceived intellectual phoniness ever since. But imagine if we not only had to overcome these insecurities in a man’s world but be a woman of colour too?

I’ve been lucky enough to grow up in a world where I’m surrounded by fierce cheerleaders in family, friends and a supportive network of colleagues. I have had bountiful opportunities to thrive in my education, network-building and career. White privilege has also propped me up to provide me with even more opportunities than I will ever know. In theory, I have no reason to experience blips in self-confidence. But I live in an unequal world. The graded systems, the hierarchies and the patriarchal make-up have created deep-rooted fear in women to rise and believe in their skills, not luck.  

You Make It mentoring

You Make It mentoring

Unfortunately, the gap we see between genders for employment pay and opportunities is even larger when it comes to diversity – or lack thereof. The joke is that companies are missing a trick if they think that diversity and gender equality don’t matter. McKinsey & Co examined over 1,000 companies across 12 countries and found that firms in the top quartile for gender diversity are 21 per cent more likely to enjoy above-average profitability than companies in the bottom quartile. Companies in the top quartile for ethnic diversity, meanwhile, are 33 per cent more likely to see higher-than-average profits than companies in the lowest quartile. Sometimes we should listen to the experts.

In these difficult times, You Make It is an important scheme that not only provides a safe, nurturing space for unemployed young women, it enables them to tap into the power within themselves and realise their potential.
— Irenosen Okojie, You Make It Alumni
You Make It mentoring

You Make It mentoring

When I came across You Make It thanks to a fellow PR, Lucy Werner, it was clear that my insecurities pale in comparison with those of women coming through the door. You Make It offers a creative and inspiring programme for young, disadvantaged women of colour to access tools, networks, experiences and the confidence to transform their lives through personal empowerment. These women have very different backgrounds, often complex, of hardship and family breakdowns. But what unites them is their low self-esteem, little sense of worth and being part of a system that is unwittingly letting them fall through the cracks. Without that support network of cheerleaders and the gross opportunities, that I and many others have been given, why would these women have any fire in their bellies to prove themselves and the system wrong? Through the mentoring programme I have joined with fellow You Make It proponents, Mac&Moore, we aim to bang the drum for these women and support them on their way up. Because that’s the only direction they can go!

But the future of this brilliant scheme hangs in the balance. Funding cuts threaten You Make It from carrying on beyond the end of the year. With this in mind, I urge you to do two things – in this order!

1. Give generously to their crowdfunding campaign. Take a second to consider any privilege, luck and support you've had that’s put you here now, and help out someone who desperately needs their luck to change. Please share on your networks. The more people we reach, the more change we can make.

2.     If you’re London-based then attend this inspiring free event with us hosted by You Make It advocates Kiwi GrayWP Engine and Blup alongside You Make It’s founder Asma on the evening of Wednesday 8th August. Please attend and share your stories, thoughts and experiences of the event to help protect the incredible work You Make It are doing.

Join us in creating some positive impact and help these women on their way up!

THE FEMALE FOCUS SERIES: DANIELLE NEWNHAM, CO-FOUNDER, F =

We're big fans of F =, and their GIRL POWER TEES, so much so there's a picture of our founder wearing one on this website. We caught up with one of the women behind the brand to find out more about the online store and empowerment platform for women and children, which recently launched the Our Stories Matter campaign. F = was founded by twins ~ tech entrepreneur and author Danielle Newnham ~ and fashion doyenne Natalie Bardega. They created the platform to inspire, motivate and empower women to rise. They practise what they preach too, with an ongoing GIRL POWER partnership with Worldreader, a global non-profit organisation on a mission to deliver digital books to every child and their family. Check out our conversation with Danielle below!

Women need to take ownership of the sisterhood and come together more
Thandie Newton

Thandie Newton

What drove you to create F =?

Having spent ten years in tech, I was acutely aware that women were almost invisible in the industry and, after spending a day at a tech conference where all the men were wearing their startup t-shirts, I realised one way to make the women stand out more was with slogan tops. I saw guys approaching others when they recognised the logo on their t-shirt – it was almost a conversation starter so I looked into what existed for females in tech and female founders and saw there was nothing. At the time, my sister was taking a well-earned career break so we came together, discussed the idea of how we could make women more “visible” in general and F = was born! 

With my background in tech and hers in fashion, we decided on the idea of selling empowering slogan tops alongside a site filled with incredible stories from women doing amazing work. We also knew our fashion couldn’t reach everywhere but our message of empowerment could so we partnered with Worldreader to create the GIRL POWER t-shirt with proceeds going to the non-profit which elevates girls out of poverty in the developing world.

What's the biggest lesson you've learnt from starting up F =?

There is an assumption that in the tech world that if you build something, people will just appear – like some mythical pull to your product. That’s just not the case. The same has happened to us – we get big hits when celebs wear our tops but the biggest lesson for us has been around building a community first. All the hard work for us has really been in building up a community who are loyal and engaged. People underestimate the effort that goes into community building through providing great content but, in this day and age, it is one of the most critical aspects of our business. We’re proud to now reach over 100,000 on a daily basis.

How have you been able to turn what was a side project into a mission-driven business?

It really happened organically. We definitely didn’t see it as a full-time thing to start with but it started to demand more and more of our time and because our mission was so aligned with our purpose in life, it made sense. I don’t think I could have committed more hours to a business without really believing in it. I am a mother, I write books – my time is pretty full but there has been a seismic shift when it comes to female empowerment in the last three years since we started. We could never have predicted it but it definitely made our business more necessary.

It has been hard work though – we often talk about the good aspects of entrepreneurship such as the fact you manage your own time but there are also a lot of hard times and that is where having a well-defined mission really helps. It certainly gets you through the more difficult times and helps you put in the hours necessary to build something you really want to see in the world.

@coral_pearl_ and her daughter

@coral_pearl_ and her daughter

Was there ever a point when you wanted to give up?

There have been definitely a few. When some big brands and well-known TV stars first copied our GIRL POWER tops, I have to say, they were low times. We had built up a brand, and a mission and this was a charity tee so we were devastated - and we felt we couldn’t compete with a high street retailer or a celeb with x million followers. 

We felt like this for a few hours but then our community started posting their anger and disappointment on the celeb’s feed and as well as our own mission snapped back to the forefront again. So we decided to fight and we fought hard. We started emailing those concerned – the brand, the celeb, the agent, the manager explaining the history of our GIRL POWER tees and the charity, and explained our legal rights to the design… and after a while, they accepted it, apologised and pulled the tees. So the lesson here is never give up, never give in and never forget your worth.

What's been the biggest milestone for the business so far?

Our latest launch – OUR STORIES MATTER - because it ties up everything we are about from inspiring girls to empowering women and telling the untold stories of great heroines. And, most importantly, we can see the difference it is going to make.

We only launched recently and we are already selling out. But this launch isn’t just about fashion – it’s about education. It’s about reaching more and more young girls with inspiring stories about incredible women – stories which we know will have impact.

By wearing the tees, we hope you spark conversations around our own stories, and the books that accompany the tees — we ask customers to donate them to local schools and libraries to inform, inspire and empower the next generation with the stories of incredible women which have gone before them. If each school had these books on their shelves and hundreds of thousands of children had access to them, we know what a difference it would make. 

We want to make the books as inclusive and diverse as possible so will be starting with both Vashti Harrisons’s Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History and Kate Pankhurst’s Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World but we will be adding more in due course.

As sisters, does this bring up complications in your business relationship when it comes to making decisions?

The trouble we have is also what works – despite being twins, we are VERY different. Natalie is very logical, uses a lot of common sense and is risk adverse. She likes order whereas I am far more impulsive, “reckless” she would probably say but I always go on my gut. I can’t do something unless I 100% believe in it and when I do, I go for it – feet first. She likes to work out everything beforehand but I think the two different personalities can help us find a sustainable middle ground! 

Why do you think Fequals t-shirts have been so well received by women?

When we started, there really wasn’t anything like it around. Selfish Mother existed but she was firmly in the mother camp and we were more focused on women at work – sharing inspiring stories about women kicking ass in their field. No one was really telling the stories of inspiring women and we like to think we changed that area somewhat.

Allbright  Founders Anna-Jones and Debbie-Wosskow with Sadiq Khan

Allbright Founders Anna-Jones and Debbie-Wosskow with Sadiq Khan

On the flipside, there has been some discussion amongst women in the media on whether a female empowerment statement on a t-shirt goes far enough to support the sisterhood. What are your thoughts?

I think it depends on the brand and their mission. When high streets stores put vacuous messages on their tops which have been made in a factory filled with underpaid workers then clearly, there is a disconnect. But our mission has always been three-fold and I think this cements our commitment to a “sisterhood”.

Brands need to be more aware that their customers are no longer passive – customers want to know more about their mission, that if they have empowering tops, that this message is aligned with how they treat women in their own company. Today’s world requires much more from the seller. And I think that is a good thing.

Proceeds from each t-shirt sale go to Worldreader. Have you seen positive impact through this?

Yes, we regularly meet with Worldreaders to see the work they are doing and the impact they have on girls in the developing world. We know how transformative books are and the fact that we are able to contribute to that makes us very proud.

It feels like the #girlpowertee is cresting the wave of female solidarity, following the swell of movements such as #metoo and #timesup. Do you think women are feeling more confident to stand up and be heard right now?

100%. When we started designing our tops, it was to make women feel more empowered – we used to get messages from customers about how they wore our tops to meetings under blazers and just wearing them, made them feel stronger. This was our intention but then 2017 was a catalyst and led to our recent launch of #ourstoriesmatter.

What more do think we can do to build action in the sisterhood community and create change?

Women need to take ownership. We talk a lot about what support we need and how our stories need to be told but we also think women need to come together more. We need to share our stories with each other more because they help and they heal. They have the power to inspire and empower and the world needs more of that.

With thousands of people around the world now wearing your t-shirts, what’s next for Fequals this year?

We’re wholly committed to our Our Stories Matter campaign to get more young children reading stories about diverse, female heroines but also to get women talking about their own stories. Our voices have been held back for so long – it’s time for us all to now speak up.

THE FEMALE FOCUS SERIES: JO HAGGER, DIGITAL TOUR DE FORCE

Jo Hagger is a force to be reckoned with in the digital industry. Clo was more than keen to talk to Jo about her experience of leading successful businesses, her passion for mentoring and thoughts on the #metoo era. Clo met Jo at an event for which she was on the panel and instantly admired her tenacity and mission for positive impact. Jo has led businesses including glue London (now Isobar, part of DentsuAegis), AAR and SapientNitro. She works in a consultant-coach capacity with a number of agency leaders and businesses and her most recent roles include Senior Industry Head at Google and MD at Possible and Wunderman. Read on to find out more about what makes this woman tick. 

royce-1637.jpg

1. You've had quite a year! Tell us what you're up to at the moment.

Currently enjoying a short sabbatical, to build up my good karma - time with the family, volunteering, and considering lot’s of interesting possibilities. 

2. You have led some of the most successful agencies out there. What's the one job you feel has given you the most personal satisfaction?

Without question, managing Glue London through some crazy successful and creative years. Finding and working out how to attract the best people, building the team, developing and growing the business and doing some brilliant work in the process.

3. You've talked about your hate for being described as 'ambitious' and a 'go-getter', just because you're at the top of the chain. Do you think there's a lot of negatively perceived ideas of what success looks like?

I think there are a lot of 'loaded' words that we use without much thought or care, for sure. I also think it's really narrow minded to consider 'success' in one dimension and assume that everyone has the same notion of what that looks like. For me, success is about happiness, life balance and always learning new things. 

4. There's a well-documented heritage of sexism in the industry. As one of the few women at C-level, is this something you've had to deal with?

I have encountered sexism in many different contexts and flavours, although never to such a degree that it’s stopped me doing what I wanted to do. In that respect I feel pretty lucky, but I also feel the weight of responsibility that we should all feel, to drive positive change and make tangible positive steps towards improving gender diversity, inclusion and mutual respect - in business and in life. 

5. 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?

No I don’t think the industry is doing enough at all. A lot of the problems exist or are set at the very top and become systemic. I’m hopeful that the brave and tenacious entrepreneurs and future business leaders (female and male) who are leading the charge towards more progressive and inclusive business practices will get more and more publicity and traction. I also think that calling out bad practice needs to be a lot more widespread and honest - and backed by action. 

Screen Shot 2018-05-22 at 10.17.07.png

6. 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?

Do your research and know why you want to do it, know that the people you’ll work for are good people and that you’ll be able to learn whilst working hard and supported to find the right career path for you over time. If you are going to work in the industry then it has to be fun as well as hard work - and to be fun you’ve got to be surrounded by the right people. 

7. You're a SheSays mentor, Creative Equals coach, Inspiring the Future volunteer, NABS mentor and Help for Heroes mentor.  What draws you to coaching? 

Seeing what amazing and beautiful things people are capable of when given the opportunity (and often when they’re not!).

8. There are a lot of young (and older) women starting their own businesses and are seeking coaching on how to take their business to the next level. What would you say is the biggest thing that women need to get right to run a business?

Being clear about your proposition - why you exist, what you’re there to do and who you want to do that for and with which customers. This isn’t complex in itself but it takes time, clarity and discipline to follow your path. And find a good supportive mentor or coach who can provide extra counsel or support when needed ;)

9. What is the one thing you find keeps coming up as the problem that needs solving for your mentees?

Fear of what happens in career terms after having a family or simply how to cope with the juggling and multiple demands. Not least of all those demands we put upon ourselves and lack of confidence.

Screen Shot 2018-05-22 at 10.16.12.png

10. Do you think women at the top get enough support in business? 

I think women at the very top often benefit from very good and extensive support systems extrinsically, but emotional support can be much harder to come by. It’s the classic ‘loneliness of the leader’, which is where clubs and networks (like WACL, for me) can be invaluable. 

11. Being at the top of a business, are you able to stay inspired?

I am always inspired, but often by things or people that are nothing at all to do with work or business!

12. Where do you get your inspiration?

New experiences, meeting great people, coaching and mentoring, and continual learning. 

13. Who do you look up to?

My mum - she’s strong, loving, fearless and a staunch feminist.

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

On a beach in Mexico, cooking up my next project?!  

THE FEMALE FOCUS SERIES: IT'S TIME TO PUSH FOR PROGRESS

Jess, Clo, Nat striking a pose...

Jess, Clo, Nat striking a pose...

Wow. What a few weeks it's been. Some serious girl power vibes have been coursing through our conversations and work, and we've loved it. As part of our initiative, The Female Focus, in partnership with Jess and Nat of Mac & Moore, we have talked to so many talented and inspiring women who intersect many different sectors and roles, to get their views on what it means to be a woman in the business world. But more than that; we probed into the change we need to see this year to support women to create a truly balanced society. So here's a round-up of what they had to say....

We can be unwelcoming to other women
— Rosh Thanki, trailer Editor and lifestyle Instagrammer

First, we asked them what the biggest issue or barrier for women in business is. What really came through was that the working environment is masculine in nature and male-dominated in power, which makes the creation of change a challenge. Emma Sexton, Founder of MYWW and Broadcaster for Badass Women's Hour, said: "(We need to) change our working culture and one dimensional view of what makes a successful leader. Work is masculine in nature and until we value feminine values and leadership qualities as a viable alternative women are going to lose out.” Sarah Welsh and Fara Kabir, co-founders of Hanx, the first luxury vegan male condom designed for women, highlighted that it's the underrepresentation of women at the top, which means that good habits can't trickle down. They told us: "The number of female CEO's is ridiculously low in comparison to our male counterparts. There is still more to be done with regards to pushing women to reach their potential in leading roles." The pattern is particularly prominent for women belonging to an ethnic minority. Sheeza Anjum, social media and digital content specialist, has worked with some of the biggest creative and digital agencies in the world, "but unfortunately every single time I step through the door I can’t help but notice there is a serious lack of role models and mentors for women like me." 

I’ve sadly seen so much lately about women pulling up the ladder behind them
— Antonia Taylor, PR specialist

And there is not enough support for women who are having children to provide flexibility for them to do so. Freelance PR consultant and founder of Little Gnashers, Victoria Dove, is one of them. She said, "Many employers are missing out on top talent because they can’t arrange their businesses to offer flexible working hours. We all have mobiles, laptops and the internet so it really shouldn’t be an issue anymore for office-based jobs."  Work Well Being founder Louise Padmore thinks that, whilst the rules around shared parental leave go some way to evening out the balance of responsibility for childcare, for many men there’s a workplace culture that still makes this feel like an unacceptable thing for them to do.

But it's not just men building barriers to equality, it's womankind too. Rosh Thanki, trailer editor and creative lifestyle Instagrammer, highlighted: "We can be unwelcoming to other women in the same industry". There is also the well documented 'imposter syndrome' - a fear of failure - which has a big effect on many women and something we,  as women, have to push to overcome ourselves in order to break the cycle. Heidi Budino, Freelance Global Sustainability & Social Purpose consultant at Shell, pointed out, "As a society we still associate authority with a man which leads to women often feeling like they need to downplay their authority, doing things like apologising". Founder and CEO of You Make It, Asma Shah, offered up some steps in the right direction, "We need to hear more from women who have experimented and failed and that this is okay, because you learn more from failure than from successes." We need to create positive role models out of failure.

We often put on a brave face when times get tough. We accept burdens and say that everything’s fine. But if we spoke up and out more often we might have to deal with less crap.
— Caitlin Evans, Poet and Senior Planner at MBA

It's not just habits we have to shift but fundamental systems that have historically inculcated the male focus.

So what's the solution?

Caitlin Evans, a Senior Planner at MBA, thinks that the status quo environment means that women just put up with it and won't speak out, "We often put on a brave face when times get tough. We accept burdens and say that everything’s fine. But if we spoke up and out more often we might have to deal with less crap. I want to open up really productive, ongoing conversations." There was a resounding response from the women we spoke to that they are all planning to delete the apologies. It's got to start somewhere and our narrative should be apology-less but we need to push harder for progress. Heidi Budino adds, "I’m going to be more aware in meetings when men are in the room, bring female colleagues into the conversation if I feel they’re hesitating to speak up or call a man out if they’re talking over me and not letting me finish."

“Bring female colleagues into the conversation”
— Heidi Budino, Freelance Global Sustainability & Social Purpose consultant at Shell

When it comes to building flexibility in the workplace for mothers, Jaxx Nelson, founder of Whisk Deliversan online delivery service for new parents, has plans for her fellow female friends who are family planning. "I’ll be encouraging (them) to speak openly with their company management about work flexibility. It's so important for women to be able to maintain our fought-for careers and have the family life we want."

Antonia Taylor, a PR specialist, believes that mentoring will help. "I’ve sadly seen so much lately about women pulling up the ladder behind them. Having a mentor earlier on in my career would have been game-changing. So I’d like to invest in that, possibly working with other women in my field to create something meaningful."

There's a long road ahead but the conversations building and building, and women are opening up and shouting louder. But they, as well as men, need to push harder to see the change we want to see. 

The Female Focus doesn't stop here. CLO PR and Mac & Moore will be teaming up for more activities with the lens angling on women in due course, as well as continuing to talk to mavericks who are trying to change up the status quo and pull the matriarchy up in their wake. Watch this space!

This illustration was expertly drawn by Louise Ormerod, a Senior Designer at ZAK agency

This illustration was expertly drawn by Louise Ormerod, a Senior Designer at ZAK agency