Constantly Curious

Our Thoughts and Insights

Awesome women, awesome mums - Women In The World

Consumer Trends & Insight, Culture, Entertainment, Women In The World

Finding the best way to balance your career with your home life remains one of life’s great challenges. As a working Mum it seems there are never ending pressures to try and achieve that balance whilst still having a career you love and are great at.

Finding the best way to balance your career with your home life remains one of life’s great challenges. As a working Mum it seems there are never ending pressures to try and achieve that balance whilst still having a career you love and excel in.

Having returned to Edelman from maternity leave for the first time four years ago, I like to think I have a good idea of how to make it work now. I didn’t then. A particularly poignant moment for me was asking a senior female exec how she had managed it, to be told “It is very tough. It is very, very tough and don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t!” I felt a huge sense of relief that it wasn’t just me who found this life hard. Being a parent was not going to hold my career back.

Attending the opening evening of the London Women of the World event I knew there would be some formidable women, but perhaps none as formidable as Germany’s Minister for Defense, Dr. Ursula von der Leyen. I was awe-struck. Not only is she the Minister for Defense, but a medical doctor and mother of seven. She reminded me just how much Mums can do when they find the balance that works for them.

Dr von der Leyen talked about the partnership she and her husband have; letting go a little at home and the importance of not turning her husband into a second class Mum, but allowing him to be a first class Dad. She told us how refreshing the support was that she received when working in California with a young family. We’re lucky as I believe we have this support at Edelman now.

Through the last four years I have found that balance is key. I have to be strict on what is work-time and what is family-time, but also being flexible when needed is vital to being a great parent and having a career that works for me and Edelman. Tina Brown spoke to us at Edelman today and reinforced how the support of a partner, family and friends is key to achieving an effective balance.

I left the Women of the World event buzzing.  The Dagenham Girls, Meryl Streep, Vian Dakhil, so many inspiring women and some of them Mums. Being a parent shouldn’t hold you back in the workplace, instead it offers you an extra dimension that many of your colleagues don’t have.

Written by: Victoria Bentall, Associate Director at Edelman

"We will win. We're in every home, we're half the human race" - Women In The World Round Up

Consumer Trends & Insight, Culture, Entertainment, Women In The World

Senior Advisor Anji Hunter draws on takeaways from the Women In The World London Summit, including why female leaders can still enjoy fashion.

I last went to Cadogan Hall to watch Boris and Ken and the long forgotten Brian Paddick (‘tho of course Lord Paddick now) of the Lib Dems, in the final pre-Mayoral election debate. A classic ‘Men in the World’ do, which as we know from the current political firmament, is still a rather prevalent format.

Tina Brown, who I admire and like very much, has ATD (attention to detail) to an nth degree; a pre-requisite, in my view, to success. And she certainly did not fail us this time. This extraordinary gathering genuinely could not have happened without her lazer-like focus, her verve and muscle.

So, what did I take out of it? Enjoying fashion does not mean you aren’t a feminist. Political figureheads, Val Amos, Frances Osborne and Mary Goudie, dazzled us with both their elegant attire and eloquent nominations of “the girl I’m here for”. Theresa May, on being a self-confessed fashionista said, “I like shoes. You can be clever and like clothes. You can have a career and like clothes “. Queen Rania of Jordan, reminded us there is “nothing Islamic about Isis”, whilst taking our breath away with her beauty and composure. Meryl Streep – who I have unashamedly adored and slavishly followed through Kramer v Kramer, Sophie’s Choice, Cry in the Dark, Out of Africa told us it is “actions, not words”.

But Tina won every competition. On poise and glamour. But specifically on purpose and passion.  She told us that it has been “a terrible year for women”. Public raping of girls in India as a just punishment, atrocities perpetrated on Yazidi girls as young as three by the Islamic State, political repression in Russia, the backward slide for women in Afghanistan, the 12 year old girls, wives of 60 year old men, dying in childbirth in Africa. The complete lack of any kind of rights for women in vast swathes of the world, where kidnappings, torture, rape and violence in the subjugation of women are commonplace. And whilst we have a long, long way to go, there are some extraordinary women speaking out in all of these places. It is fortuitous that Suffragette had its premiere the night before. We were treated with a clip from it, Carey Mulligan: “We will win. We’re in every home, we’re half the human race“.

I think many in the audience had a sniffle or two along the way, but mine came when Zaina Erhaim, a journalist reporting from Aleppo where schools are targeted so now function in basements. Every time Erhaim leaves for a job, her mother immediately strips and bags the sheets, so if she doesn’t return, “she would have my smells”. Her voice was one of many speaking on tragedies happening across the globe: Ebola survivors, taking up the cause of Ebola orphans. Leymah Gbowee, Nobel Peace Laureate, having to resort to stripping in Liberia, to get her way with the warlords whose culture cursed men who saw older women naked. Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe, educating and empowering the former female child slaves of Ugandan soldiers, ostracised by their communities when finally freed.

But the day was not dominated by tragedy but also focused on female achievement. The amazing Maggie Aderin-Pocock, MBE and space scientist spoke of education, and specifically science as a space for women to move towards. Actress Nicole Kidman, staying in London playing the unsung DNA scientist, Rosa Franklin, in ‘Photograph 51′, was on the same page. Business was maybe not represented as much as it should have been, but perhaps that’s because – another wonderful fact revealed last week – not only are there are only four female CEOs in the top FTSE, they are outnumbered 4/1 by people called John.

And there was a lot on social media, on self-image, on the “selfie” phenomenon and its impact, of six year olds with a “virus of body hatred”. But fighting back are role models like Chantelle Winnie, the international super-model, once dubbed “the girl with the skin condition”. Modern Scottish political role models featured too – I am three quarters Scottish myself, and a serious Unionist, so not sure how far I go on the admiration stakes for the duo of Nicola and Mahri. But they went down a storm.

So, well done, Tina and Edelman (the team mainly women, too) for pulling off such an open, honest, uplifting gig. Everyone, men included, left the summit with their tails up. There are terrible things happening in the world which we need to help raise awareness of. There are amazing women doing just that, standing up for the plight of women everywhere – social workers, refugees, doctors, women soldiers, politicians, journalists, supermodels, actresses. And we can all do our bit.

I left wondering not if but when, the Cadogan Hall will be hosting a mayoral debate with the major parties fielding an all-women slate?

Written by Anji Hunter, Senior Advisor, Edelman

Written by: Anji Hunter, Senior Advisor at Edelman

The 'In' Campaign

Corporate Reputation, Government Affairs, News

The campaign to keep Britain in the EU was officially launched this morning at a chilly Truman Gallery in Brick Lane. Former M&S Executive Chairman Stuart Rose gave a polished overview of the campaign, warning that voting to leave Europe was not patriotic and that while Britain could survive outside the EU it would not be able to thrive.

The campaign to keep Britain in the EU was officially launched this morning at a chilly Truman Gallery in Brick Lane. Former M&S Executive Chairman Stuart Rose gave a polished overview of the campaign, warning that voting to leave Europe was not patriotic and that while Britain could survive outside the EU it would not be able to thrive.

A good discussion then followed with a politician-free panel including Apprentice star Karren Brady, the BBC’s former economics editor, Stephanie Flanders and, Richard Reed, founder of smoothie giant, Innocent.

And then, unexpectedly, it ended. The predominantly metropolitan elite in the audience didn’t realise proceedings had come to a close until our host, TV personality June Sarpong, invited the board onto the stage for a photo-shoot. Most people seemed to expect some kind of a Q&A, but it wasn’t to be.

Despite the media buzz over the weekend it was a strangely muted affair. Part of the reason may be that, as the resultant coverage testified, no one message really stood out.

One of the biggest challenges faced by both the “In” and “Out” camps is in crafting a positive narrative to back their position rather than relying on scare tactics. No doubt lessons have been learnt from the Scottish independence referendum, when the Better Together campaign was branded “project fear” by opponents.

But while few would welcome positively Europhile rhetoric, in its efforts to prevent voters edging towards a Brexit, the “In” campaign needs to communicate a punchier message for staying inside a reformed EU.

Written by: Ben Lock, at Edelman

Live Reporting at Women In The World

Consumer Trends & Insight, Culture, Entertainment, Media

Edelman Account Director, Sophie Rhatigan reports back on attending Women In The World as Edelman's live reporter.

I have been at Edelman for six years and occasionally people will ask me why I’m still here after such a long time. One of the reasons is that sometimes Edelman will throw me a once-in-a-lifetime experience, a project that I’m immensely proud to work on and ultimately something that gives me a sense of achievement. This was one of them.

Last week I was asked to attend Tina Brown’s first Women in the World (WITW) summit in London. The job: takeover Edelman’s social channels and report live from the event. Edelman has been working on the event for months with Tina personally but for two days they adopted me to help spread the word through positioning me in the media pit by the red carpet and up in the rafters of Cadogan Hall with the rest of the WITW editorial team.

Women in the World is more than just a live event. It’s a news organisation. It brings globally relevant news and experiences directly to its readers and viewers. You hear about stories and news you just wouldn’t find in your newspaper or on your news app on your morning commute. You’re hearing stories direct from the survivors and campaigners mouths – there’s no media lens on it. It’s raw and real.

You may judge me for this or think I’m ignorant but before last Thursday I had no idea that ISIS is aggressively recruiting Westerners (4,500+ to date), how corrupt Russia is and that Yazidi girls as young as nine are being systematically raped and tortured by ISIS – plus that the current US air strikes are not helping them as they are “not in the area where they keep those girls.” I’m glad that Delan Dakheel Saeed said “I will not stop, I will keep telling those stories, I will let people hear us.” This is what WITW does. It creates a forum to ensure messages are being spread globally and since the event I have seen numerous news stories across national news sites covering these panels – helping us tell these stories even further.

I made a decision not to recount every single story and inspirational quote or anecdote I heard. Instead, here are some key observations and takeouts that I wanted to share.

Dove* kick-started a discussion on feelings of inadequacy and how social media is contributing to it. The idea being that people’s self-confidence is being dictated by how many likes they get on the pictures they post. A quote that has stuck with me for a while, and this actually came from a talk at Edelman UK a year ago, is that we need to “stop comparing our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” It couldn’t be truer. Every day most of us scroll through Instagram and Facebook seeing our friends and celebrities posting pictures of themselves looking happy and doing interesting things. Whilst you’re likely sat in your pyjamas make up free, and trying to figure out what to make with the two eggs, vodka and broccoli in your fridge freezer. No one shares the sh*t stuff on social media. Remember that.

We were fortunate enough to hear from Nicole Kidman who very rarely talks about herself publically. In 2002 she won an Oscar for The Hours and you’d assume that she would’ve been on top of the world after years of hard work following her divorce. She told us how she held the Oscar in her hands at The Beverly Hills Hotel and felt the “loneliest” she had ever felt. Another example of how no matter how good things look on the surface of someone’s life, whether in person or on social media, it’s likely you’re not able to see the hurt and sadness they’re feeling behind-the-scenes.

Women in the World is also about speaking up and having the courage to make a change. We heard many harrowing stories and something that the survivors have in common is that they have all decided to speak publically about their experiences and are working with organisations to prevent it happening to others.

These women and men talked about being sexually abused as children, seeing people murdered, raped and dying from disease and in Yeonmi Park’s case seeing her mother surrender herself to a rapist so that she could feed Yeonmi who weighed under four stone as a teenager. Yeonmi’s memories were so raw that it reduced her to tears on stage. This was the point I cried – something that felt very unnatural at a work event. Especially with your GM and CEO sitting behind you.

Some people find it difficult to tell their closest family and friends about experiences like this and here were these women wrenching up memories and telling hundreds of people sat in front of them and thousands more on a live stream. It’s brave full stop. I hope it encourages more people to tell their stories and help others.

The refugee crisis was another common topic. The words “no one chooses to be a refugee” stuck with me as we heard from Queen Rania of Jordan who commits 25% of Jordan’s budget to helping refugees – somewhere that isn’t as rich as other Gulf countries and the UK. Nicola Sturgeon MP encouraged the UK to support the crisis more and pledged that Scotland is committed to helping more too. We heard from survivor Mervat Alsman who recounted her journey in a lorry with no oxygen in. A lorry with a driver than wouldn’t stop to let them out when they were close to suffocation. It was so bad they had to call the police the make the driver stop. This is a situation she paid $2,500 to be in because she had no other choice to save herself and her daughter. She left her other children back in Syria to save the youngest. It’s likely they will never be reunited.

Occasionally I’ll experience, read or hear about something that will bring me back down to earth and put things in to perspective. Women in the World was one of them. I overheard a guest (in the bathroom) telling her friend “I’ve never heard so many interesting things in such a short space of time.” I may have taken my title of ‘roving Rhatigan’ a bit further than required at that point, but I felt that quote summed up WITW rather well.

As I scroll through news sites and Twitter I find that we have achieved what we set out to do last week but in the back of my mind I realise it will never be over and know there’s so much more work left to do. I’ll be following WITW in New Delhi in November and then on to New York in the spring. I hope you do too as I promise you that it will be one of the most inspirational and thought provoking discussions you have ever heard.

Thanks Women in the World and Edelman.

Written by Sophie Rhatigan, Account Director, Edelman

*Women in the World and Dove are Edelman clients.

Please update your browser.

This website requires Chrome, Firefox, Safari or Internet Explorer 9+