In the past two years companies have been faced with unparalleled levels of disruption to cash flow, growth, innovation, profit, recruitment and staff wellbeing, and presenteeism to name just a few. According to ONS figures from January 2022, the levels of Omicron in December meant that around three per cent of all workers were off sick – the highest since June 2020.
But women in business have had it especially tough. According to The World Economic Forum, Covid is regarded as the biggest setback to gender equality in a decade. And for working mums like me, our ability to seemingly be able to juggle it all has been tested like never before. But this has come with a price for many. In a 2021 Mumsnet survey of over 1,500 women, 76% said that the pandemic has had a negative impact on their own mental health, and of those who had been in paid work in March 2020, 70% said they had struggled to balance work and childcare at home.
What I’ve observed and experienced over the past two years has merely reinforced the need to ensure that women in business fight for, and make the most of, every opportunity that they can to overcome challenges and succeed, from the graduates in their first real jobs, to the seasoned entrepreneurs.
During my time at Man Bites Dog, I’ve had the pleasure of working with such a wide range of brilliantly talented colleagues, and clients with many females in C-Suite positions. And here at Man Bites Dog the women take the lead. Claire Mason is our very own founder and CEO, Mary Maher is our MD, Fiona Buckley and Ally Sharpe are two out of our three Divisional Directors, while Sabrina, Jade, Alice, Alex and myself make up 5/6 of the Principal Consultants, with many more wonderful women across the business.
Diversity and equality are close to our hearts in our business because it really matters. In 2018, I worked with the team and Claire Mason to launch the Gender Say Gap, which is a term we coined to highlight the invisibility of women and diverse leaders as expert authorities in business and public life. Since then, it’s been part of our mission to increase the representation of women and diverse experts. We now aim to foster say equality by asking leaders in business and the public sector, the marketing communications profession and the media to measure the diversity of the expert authorities they elevate as thought leaders and set targets for change.
In 2021 we wanted to examine the other side of the representation equation – the media.
In partnership with Women in Journalism, we carried out the largest piece of research on gender inequality in UK journalism and media. Based on the opinions of 1,200 UK journalists, The Gender News Gap report provides insight into how the current gender imbalance impacts female journalists, the media and society more broadly.
While embarking on the media outreach in support of this campaign I received an email from an editor about a synopsis for a piece of content on the Gender News Gap. He said:
“I feel people may be getting ever so slightly weary of endless gender/equality pieces.”
You might have read that assumption about his readers in slight disbelief, as I did. However, he quickly followed up with:
“We now need actions and results rather than endless talking shops. Examples of real tangibles, truly meaningful best practice, and personal achievements.”
I couldn’t agree more, but until equality is achieved we need to continue to have a voice about the issues at play and carry out research to take a pulse check on attitudes and behaviours to monitor progress. And many of our clients are leading the way.
I’m proud to work on some key client projects that also bang the equality drum for women across our core industry sectors. I was part of the Man Bites Dog team working in partnership with BNY Mellon Investment Management to create a powerful thought leadership campaign which explores how increasing women’s participation in investing can change the world. The Pathway to Inclusive Investment found that if women invested at the same rate as men, it could result in an additional US$3.22 trillion of capital being invested globally, much of which would flow towards investments with a positive impact on society and the environment.
Celebrating diversity and success is something that we live by at Man Bites Dog. We have a culture of praise where praise is due in the form of “Big Ups” to team members for going above and beyond, for doing something special and generally knocking it out of the park.
So I’d like to give a huge BIG up to all the hard-working women out there right now, to the parents, to our male allies and everyone still banging the drum for female equality. In line with a key message from our campaign with BNY Mellon Investment Management - inclusivity and diversity matters, and the time to act is now.