Stop. In the name of love diversity before you promote unconscious bias and normalise negative behaviours.
OK, it’s not as catchy as The Supremes’ track, but it’s our anthem.
We’re talking to senior management, middle management, graduates or millennials – we create ongoing programmes for each group to follow.
No programme is ever the same; we apply our knowledge and experience to each individual company or individual. What makes you different? How do your culture and processes affect the readiness for change?
Our Consultancy projects are wide-ranging, like broad-scope programmes looking at the what needs a good shaking up within the company. Are your behaviours gendered and non-inclusive? Are there activities in your company make-up that can be remodelled to ensure all employees have the same opportunity and recognition?
At the other end, we can put more targeted issues under the microscope. A well-resourced and managed mentoring scheme, women’s leadership programme or maternity coaching scheme can provide incredible focus and really move the agenda forwards.
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It was in the early days of digital advertising that us birdsoup birds first met, and worked together as part of an all-female management team. Pretty radical, huh? Not only was this very unusual at the time, but for us, it proved to be a life-changing experience.
We experienced the power of collaboration like never before; it was strong, empowering and effective – we were an unstoppable force. We made a promise to ourselves then to create something together again in the future.
The years rolled on, and with them came new milestones; the arrival of children put a new spin on burning the candle at both ends, and the work / life ratio became not so much a balancing act, but a full-blown ruddy trapeze.
We also experienced the inevitable highs and lows of working in new roles for various organisations, which represented fresh challenges.
We felt our stock was low after having our children, something we believe many women still face, and were concerned that our careers were stagnating.
There seemed to be little room for growth and development – something we could never have imagined in those AOL days. We spent many hours trying to figure out what was going on, and putting the world to rights over a bottle of wine or three.
Our time wasn’t up; there was still fire in our bellies and we were confident we had more to give.
So what changed? Over the past 6 years, we both gravitated towards new careers where essentially, we help others. We became people-focused and determined to do something positive. With a whole sackful of new skills and smarts, we knew instantly that the time was right for us to get the band back together again.
As Mums we ask ourselves the question: what will the world of work be like for our kids? Because of them, we have a vested interest in how to help to change it for the better.
I enjoy (in no particular order): time with my husband and daughter, laughing, my hound, good wine, the sea, dog walks (by the sea), shoes, travel, singing and eating delicious food.
We’ve all been there; after many years working in marketing and new business – despite satisfying chapters with organisations like ITV, AOL, Dentsu Aegis and PHD – I felt the need to change my focus.
I enrolled on the MSc Organisational Behaviour and Coaching at Birkbeck in 2009 and after 2 gruelling years, fuelled almost entirely by coffee and Ritz crackers, I completed the course in 2011.
Since then I have been working with organisations to develop their employees into prize people, providing coaching, 360 feedback andconsultancy.
Maternity coaching is my speciality; it’s a natural crossroads for both the expectant – or returning – mothers and their organisations, but I have seen tangible benefits for both parties in terms of retention and performance.
I love working with women at all stages of their career to help them develop deeper self-awareness, find their strengths, and challenge their negative beliefs (we’re all guilty of it), in order to really grab hold of that career they deserve.
I enjoy many forms of exercise, dancing, margaritas, talking, people, Nordic Noir, Coronation Street and being cooked for. I am a lifelong, long-suffering Norwich City supporter.
We’re talking about careers – yours, your employees’ – but let me take a moment to tell you about my own. My career started out on the media owner side before moving over to the agency world. After a few years, I returned to the (relative) safety of TV.
In 2000, when a lot of the world was dipping their technical toe into the water, I took a chance on the ‘digital’ thing being more than just a fad. I became a native and expanded my brain and adaptability during seven years at Google.
I did my coaching training with the NeuroLeadership Institute. I’m interested in how our brains affect how we feel, how we think and how we behave at work. I focus on developing new ways to deal with obstacles, setbacks and difficult decisions or people. I also train people in all aspects of communication, presenting, influencing and personal impact.
I love to help women maintain the enthusiasm and passion that they entered the workplace with.
birdsoup is the product of our own experiences. More than that, it’s a reaction to those of our friends and colleagues too. It’s that fire-in-your-belly, get-you-out-of-bed-in-the-morning, just-hold-on-a-minute drive to make a difference.
Launching birdsoup has been exciting; a new brand, a shiny website – it’s like stepping out head to toe in new clothes. After the fanfare comes an important question though, that we must start to answer: how are we going to fulfil our womanifesto?
It’s fantastic news that diversity – and gender diversity in particular – is the topic on everyone’s lips at the moment. The wider marketing industry is not unlike many others – pay gaps exist, fewer women make it to the top, many women leave when they become mothers – you know the score. These issues are well documented and researched. Where information is thinner on the ground, however, is evidence of ways to redress these imbalances. Lip service is the phrase we hear all the time – this usually means the organisation knows it has to do something about it, but isn’t really devoting enough time and resource to programmes that will change things. In fact, more recent articles are bemoaning the failure of attempts thus far, saying they have the potential to create a bigger divide.
At birdsoup, we are determined to change things. We need to find the right partners to do this; those who want to shake things up and aren’t scared of tipping the applecart all over the street. No one has cracked this yet, but that doesn’t mean a solution isn’t out there.
When we talk about gender diversity, we walk a fine line. In an ideal world, we would like to work with any employee in an organisation regardless of gender. Being realists however, we see that women are the group that need the most help right now. In our view, organisations find it difficult to sustain a focus on inclusion. They dip their toe in with one-off programmes, which by their very nature won’t be sustainable; they don’t walk the talk with their male heavy senior leadership team. If real change is going to happen, it needs effort over time and a high degree of self-consciousness from every employee.
The changing nature of work shows us that we all now need to manage our own careers. We must develop our own ideas of career success and mark out our pathway to achieving that. The evidence shows that women and men do this equally well throughout formal education and into the early part of their careers. At this point the workforce is broadly a 50/50 split. So what happens 10-15 years on? The picture becomes very different, where the imbalance doesn’t just tip the scale, but shifts to a point where only 20-25% of employees at board level are women.
There’s an obvious reason for this, we hear you cry – women have babies. This is undeniable, but do over half of them really want to stop working to stay at home? We think that the motherhood transition is a key one which needs some serious attention, but we know other things are at play.
Below you’ll be presented with six areas that we believe organisations in the media, advertising and marketing industries could focus on to improve their womanagement, and finally shift the gender dial.