Ah, the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. Unbelievably, it’s autumn already. Always a funny time of year – the leaves may be going brown and the nights drawing in, but it’s also a time of new starts – back to school with a shiny new pencil case and a renewed enthusiasm.
For much of this year, I’ve been recharging my mental batteries by taking some time out from the hurly burly of marketing strategy and engaging with my local community. I’m now getting back to work with my pencils fully sharpened. And this term, my range of pencils is that bit more diverse.
I founded and led a branch of the Women’s Equality Party (WEP) and became a Board Trustee for a local charity who help the long-term unemployed into work (Works for Us). I’ve been running around Milton Keynes, meeting a diverse range of key influencers including Council leaders, MPs, the CEO of a domestic abuse charity and the Chair of a group representing LGBT+ employees across major companies. I’ve been speaking at networking events, and talking to business leaders about local issues. And it’s certainly broadened my thinking.
Utilising my skills at the grass roots of the voluntary sector was always going to be rewarding, but an unexpected bonus was how my ‘two worlds’ collided. My focus on equality of opportunity has delivered both new insights and new business connections.
With my WEP ‘hat’ on, I stood up and challenged the male-centricity of an agency’s Sports Marketing event (written about here). Happily, their reaction was to quickly arrange a ‘gender issue’ follow up. At a symposium on ‘Creativity and the New Reality’, the UN Women Chief of Communications was as important a speaker as Sir Martin Sorrell and futurists from IBM, Spotify and several cutting-edge tech companies. This summer, the ASA introduced new guidelines to help eradicate gender stereotyping and Sarah Golding became President of the IPA (although only the second woman in its 100 year history). It seems our industry is slowly coming around to the importance of gender equality, both in roles and representation.
Many of us are already familiar with the term ‘unconscious bias’, and understand the importance of extending our focus away from self-interest when making key business decisions. But clearly, it’s not all about gender. At a recent Board Diversity conference, the speakers underlined the importance of including all social groups at Exec level. The stories told by the BAME, LGBT+ and disabled contributors were both shocking and incredibly motivating.
Our population continues to grow in its diversity. Currently 14% of the UK population were born abroad. By 2030, it’s estimated this will be over 30%. So our workforce, at all levels, and the decisions our business leaders make, need to better reflect that.
As an objective marketer, my most successful projects have transformed businesses by refocusing their strategy on a new audience. As many companies are now starting to realise, diversity + inclusivity = profits.
If you’d like some help in looking at the world through a different lens, give me a call.