Archives for category: Inclusivity

We have thought long and hard about the challenges involved in creating a diverse and inclusive workplace. It is not an easy ‘fix’ – if it was, businesses would have succeeded by now.

These are what we see as the key challenges:

We are operating from a place of unconscious incompetence
We literally don’t know that there is another way. What we see happening around us is what we know, and it is difficult to grasp an alternative way of doing things, let alone the benefits that might bring. Despite strong research (research done by McKinsey), the business case remains largely intuitive and conceptual.

The human brain wants to fit in
The human brain is wired for survival – meaning that it likes certainty and to feel like it fits in. Growing up, we learn that compliance makes us safe and that belonging feels good. The shift to a diverse and inclusive workplace is going to require vulnerability, swimming against the tide and a comfort in being around people that are ‘not like us’. The other side of this coin is that those who don’t feel like they ‘fit in’ experience imposter syndrome and operate from a place of ‘not enough’ – meaning they often play small. We can help people recognise and move beyond their imposter syndrome, at the same time creating cultures which are less likely to give rise to this phenomenon.

Unconscious bias
The human brain is also wired to categorise and to stereotype. It is a universal human trait that helps us to make sense of the world. Unfortunately, that skill comes with a less useful by-product – that of unconscious bias. We, unconsciously, hold stereotypes about groups of people that may make it harder for those groups to succeed in the workplace. We may also internalise stereotypes about the groups to which we ourselves belong.

Fear of conflict
Most people have an aversion to conflict and certainly would prefer to be surrounded by people who agree, rather than disagree, with them.  Getting a more diverse range of opinions in the room is going to mean greater disagreement. Period. We need to show people that conflict doesn’t need to be feared, that it can be a place of personal growth and give them the tools and skills to have difficult, challenging conversations.

The ability and knowledge of how to build diverse and inclusive teams
We like to be right, and the current leadership model, whilst shifting, is still in the ‘all knowing leader’ paradigm. Often, we don’t have the resilience to align rather than agree and we are not aware of our greater role in the system. Asking for help is seen as a weakness, whereas it could in fact mean listening to other people’s valid, different and possibly more useful opinions. Diverse teams need a skilled leader to harness them otherwise homogeneity is probably preferable. Such leaders let go of ‘coerce and control’, understand our interconnectedness and know how to align teams on a common purpose. It is a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world and team leaders need support in being able to deal with that, when they have been taught to look for certainty.

We are too busy
This is a two-fold challenge. Often teams feel like the D&I agenda is going to be resource intensive within teams that are already stretched to breaking point, (we would argue that it requires shifting your ‘being’ rather than a series of time intensive initiatives and that operating from the current place is more time ineffective). Alongside this, when we are operating at full pelt, we neglect to access our intuition and we ignore our emotional needs. We need to listen to both to move forwards – as individuals and as teams. When systems ignore their pain, it is stressful and this makes us less socially intelligent, empathic and creative. We are functioning from our limbic brain, we waste human capital and stress shuts down our neural pathways.

We value certain ways of thinking
Culturally, we value the left brain over the right brain. We value reason, judgement, cause and effect… and yet what could be possible if we valued feelings, relationships, intuition and creativity? Some experience shame at being ‘differently brained’, again dampening their productivity.

We have developed a suite of products to support businesses in creating a more diverse and inclusive workplace. 
DOWNLOAD OUR D&I TOOLKIT
Love Rox

There was a certain irony in seeing the headline that ‘more than a third of teenage girls suffer depression and anxiety’ on the same front page as updated data on the gender pay gap (in short – there still is one; https://www.theguardian.com/money/2016/aug/23/gender-pay-gap-average-18-per-cent-less-uk-women).

(I wonder what it must be like to read the continual coverage about the pay gap, the casual sexism of the Olympic commentators, the constant trolling and victim blaming as an 18 year old girl?  Pretty bloody depressing, I’d say.)

I read the pay gap coverage with an eye roll. Here we are again. At first I couldn’t even be bothered to comment on it. Creating systemic change in this arena is complex, painfully slow and full of people missing the point entirely.

Rather than add to the complexity, I’m going to focus on one thing I think the advertising industry could change to make a difference in this area – flexible working. The biggest challenge, in my view, is that the advertising industry finds it hard to create an upwards career trajectory for those choosing not to work 38+ hours a week. And, typically it is mothers who are requesting to work in a different way – albeit we are seeing increasing numbers of men adopt this work pattern.

  1. Flexible working needs to stop being seen as a women’s issue. I argued in The Guardian last Autumn that as soon as flexible working is seen as a people issue and a way of recruiting and retaining the best talent, it will start to get taken more seriously.
  1. We need to take risks. Of course we don’t know if two people doing a job share is going to work – but we’re never going to know unless we give it a shot. Too often, people take the tried and tested route and miss the chance to discover something amazing.
  1. We need to make it easier for recruiting managers to take a creative approach. Added to this, sign off systems can make it harder to get approval for a more creative solution. I understand why a manager would choose a full timer over a 4 day a week account exec if those were the only options available to them because of head count restrictions! But what if they were able to choose between a full timer OR a three day account exec and a three day assistant? Companies need to make it possible for the recruiting manager to make these solutions possible.
  1. We need to stop hiding behind our clients. Our clients work more flexibly than us (largely) and I don’t buy into most of the arguments that clients won’t allow it. I think that’s hiding behind a convenient excuse.
  1. We need to stand up to our clients. If there are clients out there insisting on full time Account Directors, (and I know there are a handful), we need to stand up to them and explain that flexibility may be required if they want the best person for the job. Use it as a chance to get out of that subservient client / agency relationship whilst you’re at it.
  1. We need to stop using people working flexibly as a way of saving money. Yes, I know you do it. The Account Director that only wants to work 4 days a week gives you a 20% overhead saving. Just no.  That’s setting that AD up for failure and her team up for overload. Invest in getting the right back up resource and you might just see everyone thrive.

With the technology and cross border reality of 21st century work, it is astonishing to me that we are so wedded to 20th century work practices. It’s time that an industry that prides itself on being current, caught up with the times.

Rox

On Tuesday 28th June, we hosted our first ever conference – HeANDShe – with a diverse panel of speakers from the worlds of neuroscience, mental health campaigning, media and advertising.

Our intention was to discuss how to bring men along to the gender conversation, along with starting a debate about how men are also harmed by gender stereotypes.

The evening brought thought-provoking conversation about how and why the panel would tackle harmful gender stereotypes.

For those of you that couldn’t be there, here are some insights.

Dr Jack Lewis, neuroscientist, kicked off by stating that female and male brains are much more similar that dissimilar, and that nurture plays a huge role in shaping the brain differences between men and women. What this means is how we treat our girls and boys, which research tells us is different even before they are born if we know their gender, is what largely shapes the consequent differences in our brains. He suggested that the brain is more likely to remember narratives and stories, rather than facts. This may be why the idea that ‘men are from Mars, women are from Venus’ has gained so much traction, when in fact the similarities are much more pronounced than the differences.

Natasha Devon MBE, the Government’s former Mental Health ambassador for Schools and co-founder of the Self-Esteem Team,  explained the devastating impact that gender stereotypes can have on young men and boys, which is shown by the alarming high suicide rates and rise in mental health and self-esteem issues that young people suffer today. She suggested that having one emotion – whether that be happiness or anger – isn’t enough for any human being, and that men especially need to be able to have the space and opportunity to be able to open up and share how they’re feeling.

Harriet Minter, Women in Leadership editor for The Guardian, put forward the case that women need to do less and men need to do more, expect more and ask for more.  She shone a light on how hard it can be for men to choose a career that they are passionate about over providing for their family, how challenging it can be for men to have the space to care for their children, and how it might actually be tougher for men to ask for flexible working and extended parental leave than it is for women. Harriet argued that gender equality is still just a “nice to have” in our industry and we need to continue having this conversation if we are ever to affect real change within our organisations.

Paul Frampton, Group CEO of Havas Media Group UK & Ireland, went last and did a great job at landing these insights in the world of advertising and media.  He discussed leadership styles and how “leadership is changing… and emotions are the secret weapon of great leaders”.  This, in his view, provides a strong case for more gender diversity at a senior level and the emergence of a feminine leadership styleHe said, “We’re starting to see a world where vulnerability is valued in the workplace, especially for millennials” which is something that The Hobbs Consultancy has been championing for a long time.

Paul argued that “knock on change in the ad industry will have a knock on effect in wider culture”, and it is because of this that I think we all have a collective responsibility to affect change in our industry.

If you are interested in us bringing the HeANDShe conversation to your organization please get in touch.

Speak soon

Emily
(Marketing and Operations for The Hobbs Consultancy)

 

 

How women are portrayed, considered and represented is currently on everyone’s agenda.

In this guest post, Roxanne Hobbs and Flora Joll from Mullen Lowe London argue whether advertisers need to catch up with our changing culture.

We are in a unique position in the advertising industry. Everyone is jostling to lead the discussion around equality and conscious that the views around gender are moving faster in culture than in advertising. Yet we are also in a unique position to influence the outcome as we create part of our cultural landscape through our creative output in the advertising that we make.

As a case in point, Fairy asked the question of how fair the division of labour is in your household, to complement Ariel’s suggestion that men #ShareTheLoad in attempts to redress the balance of inequality. These campaigns perhaps have the intention to create a conversation about the distribution of household labour, whilst also selling a few more unit cases of detergent. Indeed we now know that the more fathers undertake their fair share of household labour, the more their daughters in particular express a greater interest in working outside the home and having a less stereotypical occupation.

Perhaps the sooner we question and thus subvert gender stereotypes, the less likely they are to persist. Riding on Allways’ coat tails, Barbie has changed her act and Target doesn’t stock blue and pink ‘gendered’ colours for their toys any more.

With this momentum, what is now required is a definitive statement of intent. It almost goes without saying that equality is the endgame, but now that the conversation has moved on, where should it go?

bridge

We believe that what is now required is a more progressive conversation about gender equality. Whilst we applaud the attempts to instigate a conversation in the media and through advertising, we suggest the end game is one in which gender isn’t even part of the equation.

Gender is just a small part of how people define themselves, and it would seem for the younger generations this is becoming increasingly true. Perhaps The Guardian got it right – “the next step in marketing to women is to stop marketing to women”.

We do not need to create a gender specific portrait of women, or men. We can create narratives that appeal on a fundamental level: human first. Gender stereotypes play out well on a creative mood board, but the cost of these stereotypes on a societal level are becoming clear. We predict these stereotypes will increasingly create resistance, and not attraction, to our brands.

Ultimately we envisage an advertising world in which we don’t even allude to gender stereotypes, even if the intention is to ultimately undermine them.

Change does not have to be dramatic or overnight – it can be done incrementally, as Soraya Chemaly pointed out in her TED Women talk “The Credibility Gap: How Sexism Shapes Human Knowledge”, saying that “small changes in initial conditions can yield exponential difference”. A deodorant brand that has been all about attracting scantily clad babes can show your girlfriend smiling next to you; it just so happens that it is her in the driving seat, as Axe showed in ‘Find Your Magic’.

Flora would argue that marketing should set the agenda for culture, whilst Roxanne believes, at the very least, it should reflect the culture around it. At the moment it would seem, given advertising’s obsession with the younger demographics, that in the arena of gender it is doing neither.

Author – Flora Joll, Strategist, Mullen Lowe
Contribution by Roxanne Hobbs, Founder, The Hobbs Consultancy

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This year, I’m walking my ‘daring way’ talk, stepping in to the arena and organising The Hobbs Consultancy’s first ever conference.  I do hope you will be able to join us.

The conference is going to explore our thinking about gender from a completely fresh perspective – what if we could integrate rather than separate?  This is a topic which informs how we consider our target audiences as advertisers and how we think about our employees as HR professionals and line managers.

We will listen to some diverse points of view about gender from different places – from the world of neuroscience (where we are learning that many gendered brain differences might be environmental rather than innate), from the perspective of teens and self esteem (where we are more recently seeing male teens struggle with body image issues, something previously seen predominantly in girls), from a female leadership editor (whose job depends on our differences and yet has some surprising views on the future) and from an agency network CEO (who has recently talked about the need for men to get involved in the quest for gender parity).

My hope is that we further the debate in a constructive way, whilst also being entertained, inspired and having the chance to catch up with professional colleagues.

The topic is also pertinent to me on a personal level as it reflects the change in my thinking over the past five years since leaving the corporate world to set up on my own in 2011.

Whilst on maternity leave, I was able to look back at the media and advertising industry from a more objective viewpoint and saw, literally for the first time, how being a woman had impacted upon my career.  Whilst working at MEC, then Carat and then Vizeum, as a grad through to a Managing Partner, I didn’t see how being female came in to the equation at all.  I think this was partly because I lacked the ability to look from the outside in, and also because of the fast pace of the job – reflective time didn’t really get to happen.

I set up The Hobbs Consultancy initially to support women through the key inflection stages of their career – maternity and the step in to leadership.  We don’t have a problem attracting young women in to our industry. We have an issue retaining them though their mid career stages, through the family stages and also in to leadership positions.

And let’s be clear. I am sure now that it was the organisations as much as the women within them that needed support. At the time I had self sabotaged and had brought my own challenges around perfectionism and people pleasing that often made it difficult to take the helicopter view and focus on what the right thing to do was. I was more focused on doing things right – keeping stuck in management rather than leadership mode.

Whilst working on a diversity project at a media network, I interviewed lots of men and women about gender in the workplace.  I was really surprised by what I heard.  There were three key themes from the men – either a disgruntled ‘why so much focus on women?’ which made them disengage from the project.  Or a ‘my wife / sister / daughter is struggling with some of this and I want to be part of the solution’.  Or ‘Why is it just the women that we’re talking to about extended leave and flexible working?’.

I began to realise that we very much needed men to be involved, that focusing solely on women is the antithesis of inclusivity and that our gender expectations or stereotypes can negatively impact on men as much as women.

I thought that talking about the business case for gender parity would be enough to get men involved.  I no longer believe that.  The men I speak to are actually far more interested on a personal level. How is this system not serving myself or the women in my life? How can it be different for all of us? How can I release myself from some of the expectations around masculinity? How can I get to spend more time with my family too?

So this is a conference for everyone.  It’s about how our binary ideas of what men and women should do, feel and think can get in the way for all of us.  The first wave of feminism, whilst making great strides forward (for which I’ll always be thankful) also got it wrong – they positioned themselves in opposition to men rather than with men.

I have a husband, a brother and two sons.  I look at our expectations on them to provide, to ‘man up’, to not display emotions, vulnerability and weakness and I see the other side of the same coin that has produced the so-called glass ceiling in the workplace.  Our gender stereotypes are damaging everyone.

What if we stopped thinking in opposition to one another and stopped thinking about how different we all are?

What would be possible?

Love, Rox

For more information about this conference please visit: http://thehobbsconsultancy.com/Events.php
To book tickets please go to: https://heandshe.eventbrite.co.uk

I am enough (2)

Do you sometimes doubt your abilities and worry that you are not good enough?  Do you feel inadequate even though what you have achieved suggests otherwise?

If so then you could well be suffering from Imposter Syndrome.  It’s something that has probably always been around but it was given a label in the 1970s to describe the phenomenon in which successful people cannot internalise, or ‘own’, their successes.  It is experienced as a sense of inadequacy and ‘not enough’, even when information suggests this not to be true.  And, interestingly, it is more likely to be experienced by women.

First the good news – if you feel this is something you recognise in yourself then you are not alone.  In fact over 70% of people studied report having experienced it at one time or another in their lives.

And a long list of high achievers have all talked about experiencing these feelings too.  It would seem fame, success and prestigious accolades do not make you immune.

Imposter Syndrome is more than just doubting yourself and we have to unpick it further to be able to tackle it.  I would argue that Imposter Syndrome is a function of perfectionism and shame with these being two sides of the same coin.

Putting a spotlight on perfectionism makes sense – it’s a self destructive belief system in which we think that if we just do everything perfectly we can minimise difficult feelings of unworthiness and shame.  The cycle is addictive as perfect is an impossible standard to strive for.  And, when we get things wrong, or when people judge or blame us, we decide to strive even harder rather than acknowledging the impossible standards that have been set.

But, why shame?  Brené Brown defines shame as the intensely painful feeling that we are flawed and are therefore not worthy of love and belonging.  Maybe you’re surprised to see shame being discussed here.  It isn’t something that is often discussed but it is the driving emotion behind so many of our destructive behaviours in the workplace and, so, can’t be ignored.

I believe Imposter Syndrome is rife in the workplace, particularly for women, due to the masculine workplace culture.  If the workplace rewards ‘masculine’ traits of dominance, control, linear thinking and reason over ‘feminine’ ones such as group decision making, empathy, lateral thinking and intuition, then it’s no wonder women doubt their worthiness.

The lack of senior female roles models who ‘show up’ as themselves does not help.  In the past, and still today perhaps to a lesser extent, women felt that they have to take on masculine workplace characteristics to get ahead and therein lies the issue.  If women continue to bend to that idea that they have to be more ‘male’ to get ahead then that just undermines the value that women can, and should be encouraged to, bring to the workplace.

It’s easy to get caught in a vicious cycle – you don’t show up as yourself because what you bring isn’t valued, and because you’re not showing up as yourself you doubt yourself, and so it goes on.

Look out for our next newsletter in which we show you how to work through Imposter Syndrome.

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Our two day Daring Way™ workshop is now on the 16th and 17th March and is specifically for entrepreneurs. Through the course we will examine what gets in the way of us truly going for it as entrepreneurs, where we hold back and where we hide.  We will look at creativity, innovation, trust and empathy – and what might get in the way. Finally we will work through tools and techniques to support you in truly showing up as a business leader.  This setting also provides you with a support network for living brave in your whole lives beyond the two day workshop. Click here for more information.

AIR-retreat (6)

I am at the very inspiring Emerging Women conference in San Francisco at the moment.  It’s been a huge undertaking to get me here – I was supposed to go last year to the one in New York and felt unable to go at the last minute.  This year I have travelled to California with the whole family for a month of training, work, meet ups and holiday.  It has been AMAZING.

I am feeling so overwhelmed with information, research and inspiration it remains a struggle to try and summarise a story, or a theme to share with you all.  It’s as if there are tectonic plates shifting in my brain.

For the moment, I have the feeling that we are on the edge of something big. That there is a new paradigm that is emerging and that it is reaching critical mass.

San Fransisco image

I am hearing women ask – what if we just did things differently?  We weren’t at the table for the creation of so much of our world.  But what if we could be?  What could the world look like when we catalyse feminine energy in this world? What will the revolutions be when we insist on bringing in the feminine paradigm?

Could we show that there is a place for compassion, for empathy and collaboration in every single institution?

Or, perhaps at a higher level still, what if we could escape the concept of trying to compartmentalise and separate the masculine and feminine?  What could true integration look like? What could this mean for humanity?

I don’t know the answers to these questions at the moment but one thing I am hearing loud and clear is that we need to know ourselves, our wanting and our desires in order to get to this. We need to shut down the voices in our heads that tell us we can’t, or we shouldn’t.  We need to reality check the stories that we are making up in the absence of real data.  We need to take time to get out of our heads and in to our hearts.

It is not necessarily the external world that is stopping us from progressing.  We are just as culpable.  It is our responsibility to work through this and figure out what could happen in our lives and the world if we truly showed up.

Vantage Points (1)

The IPA have recently announced that they will publish a comprehensive agency employee league table listing measures such as gender and diversity versus department and seniority. ‘This table will be part of positioning the industry as enlightened and progressive in order to attract and retain the best talent.’ This comes at a time when clients are also demanding information on diversity as part of the RFP on a pitch brief.

The Hobbs Consultancy welcomes this move on a number of levels.  It positions diversity as a key metric for business success – via the attraction and retention of the best talent. And clearly what gets measured tends to get done – without data we simply don’t know the extent of our business challenges and whether we’re moving in the right direction.

Many diversity initiatives focus on the push factors – identifying what barriers can be removed or what additional support can be provided to individuals to encourage and enable their success.  Examples of this kind of diversity intervention would be mentoring and coaching.

What the IPA are doing is creating a PULL factor.  This is something that is going to create traction and energy at the very top of organisations – creating a stimulus for change. Understanding the business case for diversity is a pull factor and recent research by EY found that ‘companies that say they are good at ensuring that teams are comprised of individuals from diverse backgrounds and experiences tend to have higher EBITDA* growth rates’. (*EBITDA : Earnings before interest, taxes and depreciation)

And the publication of positive statistics in itself brings clear business benefits. When Daren Rubins (CEO of PHD) recently said, ‘We’re 40 per cent female on our board and at Exec level there are four of us and two of those are women.  So a 50/50 split exec team..’, women all over the industry sat up and listened.  When we shared his comments on our facebook page, one industry female commented, ‘Great article Daren Rubins, when can I come and work for you again?!’

Clients may well also be sitting up and paying attention to any published statistics – in addition to the emotional appeal of the ethical case, it may be that agencies who get this right are going to be better at understanding clients target audiences.

The Hobbs Consultancy offers a data audit to support companies in the lead up to the publication of the IPA league table, helping you to understand where you are now in terms of diversity.


The Hobbs Consultancy Diversity Data Audit

What is it:- A deep dive in to your company’s data to build a picture of your key diversity metrics, key areas to focus on and position vs industry norms.  The audit will also include a confidential, short all staff survey to measure the correlation between diversity and inclusivity in your organisation.  The audit will provide a detailed report pulling out the key statistics, stories, hypotheses and recommendations that can be shared at a senior level. A powerpoint version will also be supplied that can be shared more widely within the company, suggested to be used to on board key stakeholders or as part of wider training.

Key outputs:-

  1. A summary of your company’s performance vs a number of key, pre agreed, diversity metrics
  2. An understanding of where you don’t have meaningful data and recommendations as to how you can start measurement
  3. A summary of how you perform versus industry norms and benchmarks, other sector benchmarks and UK population
  4. An understanding of the correlation between diversity and inclusivity, i.e. how engaged and included people feel in your organisation sorted by gender and ethnic background.
  5. An understanding of the story behind the numbers (for example – is a low number of senior women driven by female leavers, or females stalling in their careers?).
  6. Recommendations for next steps.

Cost: from £2500 + VAT

This includes three key milestones – a briefing meeting, a data request session and a findings meeting.  The length of the project will depend on how readily accessible your data is, but it can typically be completed in 4-6 weeks.


Testimonial

“Roxanne completed an audit of our data so that we could see how we performed on various diversity measures versus both industry norms and the wider population.  This enabled us to identify where we wanted to focus our efforts and also showed us where meaningful data was currently not available.  Most importantly it has given us a benchmark so that we can now track progress over time”. Tracy de Groose, CEO Dentsu Aegis

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Untitled design (9)

Diversity seems to be a bit of a buzzword in the industry at the moment. There is a general sense that we must be able to do better and that diversity and inclusion are organisational imperatives that we should embrace.  We look around us and see that the current make up of our agencies and our boards are not reflective of the make up of the London population around us.  Recent panel debates at Adweek, Bloom and WACL have highlighted the need to change, along with some tactical successes of a few forward thinking individuals.

Yet what do we need to do to embrace long term, systematic change in this area? How do we move from talking to doing? Sometimes when I attend these excellent panel debates, I wonder if we are preaching to the choir – as to attend such an event implies that you have some understanding of why this change is so important to our industry.  It’s the people that don’t attend that we need to convince.  Organisational change cannot be effected by a few enlightened individuals at each agency. It requires the majority of the agency population to lean in, to be convinced of the benefits of that change and to seize their responsibility in making that change happen.

My perspective is that the conversation needs to shift.  We currently believe that diversity is a ‘nice to have’ and will probably have a net cost.  We think we are going to have to invest in expensive training, policies and compliance programmes.  In short, we think we should get involved, but there are always more pressing concerns on the ‘to do’ list and for the budget.

And then, at other times, the debate becomes centred on the group that stands to directly benefit.  The business case might be articulated through the advantages that group might bring to the table – especially true in the case for women.  ‘Women seem to be better at dealing with people and are more empathic’, we muse and that becomes the business case for having more female, senior leaders.  Unfortunately this approach is the very antithesis of inclusivity.  It creates a further stereotype for which women need to conform so as to be successful (excluding those that aren’t naturally like this), it focuses on one angle of the diversity debate (excluding ethnicity, geographic and educational background, LGBTQ etc) and, frankly, is only ever going to get the empathic females aligned behind it.

My call is that we change the conversation and put diversity and inclusivity at the heart of business strategy.  We need to focus on creating the holistic business case and aligning whole organisations behind that, not just a D&I consultant.  All employees, believing in the business case, could take a role in championing inclusivity.

So what might be the true business case for Diversity and Inclusivity in today’s advertising industry?  I personally believe this is a conversation every agency in town needs to be having in its boardrooms.  To use a coaching analogy, teams will have more of a stake in its progress if they design its benefits themselves and together.   But here are a few starters for ten.

 1. We will understand our client’s audiences better.

Probably the most obvious and yet also the most powerful.  Consumer insight is critical to our industry’s success and whilst we can use tools, surveys and research there is a nuance of consumer insight that can be best gained through multiple experiences in the room.

 2. We will attract and retain the best talent

Our employees are also our customers.  To attract and retain the best possible talent, we need to ensure that we are perceived as a diverse and inclusive company.  I’m reminded about how Antonio Simoes of HSBC talks regularly about gay issues in public and at in house events and says, ‘It’s amazing the number of people who email me from HSBC around the world to say, “I thought your speech was really motivational and I feel really excited about working for a bank that truly values diversity and meritocracy”’ (as told in The Glass Closet, by John Browne).

 3. To increase productivity

Unconscious bias, implicit associations and homophobic / sexist attitudes are all deeply inefficient. Quite simply, we will increase our productivity if we seek to reduce our own (natural) bias.

 4. For attracting new clients

I’ve seen a number of RFP’s in recent times asking what an agency is doing in the area of Diversity and Inclusivity.  Having a clear point of view and strategy will increasingly be a part of pitch submissions and will help you to win business, much like the sustainability case has done in recent years.

There are many more.  Believing in the business case perhaps requires a shift from short to medium term thinking.  It requires our agencies to reflect the society we are serving.  Inertia is not enough – we need our leaders to clearly articulate the business case and align everyone in their agencies behind this change.

Roxanne Hobbs is the founder of The Hobbs Consultancy – which is on a mission to transform business via inclusivity.  They offer Inclusion 3.0 workshops which seek to build the business case and raise awareness of our own unconscious bias.   Prices from £1000 + VAT for a half day workshop in your organisation for 10 people.  Email me for more information… www.thehobbsconsultancy.comroxanne@thehobbsconsultancy.com

BB Quote

May 2015 will see us deliver a Daring Way™ intensive for female leaders. As someone who has worked at a senior level in the corporate world, and has been through this work, I thought it was worth sharing my experiences.

So what stops women from stepping in to their leadership?

Maternity really was a great opportunity for me to step back and reflect on what had been going on for me in the workplace the past 12 years. It was also a time – in 2011 – when women’s voices were gaining momentum and presence about the structures and processes that were holding them back at work. Or maybe I’d just been too busy to notice their voices until then.

What really struck me was the way in which I had unwittingly held myself back. I had self-sabotaged. I had to take responsibility for how I had shown up in the workplace.

Looking back at my career, I see a bit of a wobble getting used to being in the workplace after university followed by a rapid progression to middle management.  I worked out quickly that the key to getting ahead was to be liked and appreciated in the office.  And that meant being reliable, getting stuff done, fitting in with the culture, being easy to line manage and not making mistakes.  I moved around the country quite a bit as a child and consequently learnt how to adapt and fit in.  I worked out how to adapt and changed my behaviour accordingly in my new role.

The three years before maternity felt different. It felt like a struggle.  I was working really hard, putting in long hours, getting great feedback from my clients and, it felt to me, not really getting the internal recognition for it.  I was getting feedback from my seniors telling me that I needed to exhibit greater leadership, have a vision and be more consistent in my emotions.  What I didn’t get was any clues as to how to actually do this.

Things began to shift for me on maternity leave and then further whilst exploring The Daring Way™ (Brené Brown’s experiential curriculum).  The work helped me dig deeper in understanding where these behaviours came from and gave me tools and techniques to help overcome them.  I realised that fear was what was stopping me from stepping in to my leadership.

Fear that people wouldn’t like me
The people-pleasing gremlin inside of me (that, let’s be honest, comes from a fear of not being liked), got in the way of me sticking my neck out, speaking uncomfortable truths and expressing my own point of view.  Supporting and developing people in the workplace is a core value of mine and a great leadership trait.  And I have come to realise that this is different to the hustle for being liked, which is driven by fear.

Fear that my ideas would be ignored or rejected
I had become known as the ‘do-er’ and it was pretty hard to shift this behaviour or this brand image, partly because I hadn’t understood what was driving it.  It was fear.  Doing, completing tasks, staying in action felt safe.  People would accept and appreciate what I was offering.  I was unconsciously terrified that if I stopped doing that, and offered ideas and vision instead, my contribution (and therefore myself) would be rejected.

Fear that if I became too “powerful” I wouldn’t fit in 
This was a new learning from The Daring Way™ for me.  When I was growing up my Mother was the head teacher of the local school.  She was actually a brilliant role model for me for female independence and drive.  Ridiculously (and understandably), as a child, I felt self-conscious of her difference to the other Mums and felt we didn’t ‘belong’ in the community as a result.  It had taken me a long time to feel like I ‘belonged’ in London and the unconscious internal messaging was that I would lose that sense of belonging if I progressed to the top at work.

So it was fear that stopped me from stepping in to my leadership.  And I suspect that managing all of the above fears were what drove the ‘inconsistency of emotion’ that my managers noted.

I see women being given similar feedback to me regularly and not being given the development, tools and techniques to truly address what is holding them back.  I think part of the challenge is that the process runs deep and involves some soul searching. It isn’t something you can tick on a ‘to do’ list. I trained to deliver the Daring Way™ because I instinctively felt that it would provide the tools and techniques to support women in showing up and being seen in the workplace.

The outcomes of this Daring Way™ work for female leaders are:
– Increased confidence and self-belief in your own perspectives, beliefs and vision
– Greater resilience; being able to be with conflict and difficult situations
– Freedom from limiting beliefs about your offering and your creativity
– A process to support you in stepping in to your leadership and managing what holds you back.

Contact roxanne@roxannehobbs.com for more information and click here to sign up to the event https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-daring-waytm-for-female-leaders-tickets-16016355350