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Happy International Women’s Day

Happy International Women’s Day! The day that always seems to creep up on me and then I kick myself that I’ve not been proactive around a subject that is so very important to me, the importance of promoting and insisting on an equal and fair world. IWD is about celebrating how far the world has come in making life more fair and equal for women, but crucially it’s also about putting a spotlight on how far we still have to go. So here are a few words inspired by IWD, written on IWD and dedicated to the celebration and continued improvement of women’s lives and rights.

Women, brilliant women all around me from my amazing mum and sister, such strong women with great capacity to love and to laugh in all situations, to friends like Caz, who I bumped into this morning, with 9 week old Zander, embracing the very early days of motherhood and her role as a mum, to the brilliant and impressive women I work with day in and day out at Livity.  We are 70% made up of women at Livity, a company of about 50 people and growing. I’m extremely proud that the 70% women representation continues to be reflected in our Leadership Team. Kate, Alex, Lyeloon and Caroline are all inspiring and effective leaders, coaches and do’ers and examples of how ambitious career progression and pathways can and should play out. If you also take a look to their their right hand women: Lianre, Anna, Melissa, Rachel, Mira, Erica and Naomi all of whom are achieving similar levels of short and long term effectiveness and leadership and ditto all the other amazing Livity women beyond them, including our newest and youngest recruits, Livity Interns, Cherokee and Frances, I hope it begins to paint a reassuring picture that businesses like ours, that are achieving 30% year on year growth, are flying, in part (and I think a 70% part is pretty significant don’t you?) due to the brilliant women driving them forwards (Livity guys, you of course make up the other 30% and equally brilliant part, but today is and should be in celebration of the gals.)

What I observe in the women that I have the privilege of working with is an openness and willingness for self-development, both professional and personal, and this means that they are constantly raising the bar. Ours is a far more difficult Leadership Team to get on these days compared to the one we created a few years ago, because the same women who were a part of forming that team have played their part in raising the bar. What is truly exciting is that the women coming up and through in our business are now aiming for that new bar, and be assured they are going to reach it. The impact of all of this is that our business becomes better and stronger.  The glass ceiling has no place to even be considered a challenge in our business, however, across the marketing industry there is still some work to be done. I’m Chair for Youth and Diversity for the MAA and in our recent MAA Census, some figures were almost converse to ours at Livity, in that 67% of executive leadership are male, with the make up of the industry being 49% male/ 51% female – so there clearly is still more work to be done on encouraging pathways for women to achieve leadership and executive roles. Beyond our MAA member agency world the figures are even worse than our 33% of women in executive positions, with an IPA 2012 report revealing the average proportion of women accounting for roles in executive management or higher had reach 25%, and this was a good increase on previous years. The music industry is hard to get figures for, but the one woeful figure I managed to pick up was that 15% of membership of the Music Managers Forum is women and a quick play with the Creative and Cultural Skills really useful data generator revealed that overall the number of female ‘Managers and Senior Officials’ in the industry is only 13%.

So yes, on IWD we must celebrate the improvements, the great stories and stats that demonstrate progress, but let’s face it, you only have to sit and look at a few stats to realise that we still have so much to do and achieve and I believe that to gain any meaningful traction it must start at a leadership and executive level. In business, any major challenge or change that is big and important needs leadership. At Livity we have no specific programmes for women or indeed diversity, equal opps policies yes, programmes no. Yet we have great numbers of women and a really diverse team (58% white / 42% non-white) why? Well, one half of our co-founding team is female (me!) and the other half of the partnership, my inspiring biz partner Sam Conniff, is a human being and leader who has a phenomenal sense of fairness and open-mindedness, he is also someone who grew up in a family of impressively strong women, I’m certain they have contributed to his inherent sense of equality for all. We need to set examples, challenge traditional thinking and behaviours and create business environments in which everyone can thrive, be ambitious and have a clear, compelling and equal pathway. One of the most important things I’ve learnt on this topic is that once you have momentum, once you are experiencing first hand the numerous benefits of a diverse and equal business, you’ve now set a precedent and you’ve created the environment for success, you then begin to naturally attract those brilliant people who also ‘get it’. That’s extremely exciting, because then you can all just get on with enjoying, creating and delivering brilliant work, in our case, for our clients and for the benefit of the young people, the very reason Livity exists.

Change for women in business needs to come from the leadership of the business and it might indeed need a programme or specific push to support it, but the leadership is essential, because without leadership it’s an uphill struggle whereas with the support of the leaders it is simply a natural evolution, that might take time, but that will have momentum and promise and above all benefits for both businesses and the clients, customers or communities they serve.

So there we are, International Women’s Day, yes you have crept up on me once again, but this year I’ve responded to you and I promise to continue to do my bit and hopefully even a whole lot more by the time you come around again next year.

Written for my daughter, Liliana aged 10.

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#100daychallenge 31 days till the games

Today’s blog is courtesy of my daughter, Liliana Rose Morgan, aged 8…

Today has not been a great day or a bad day ,just a regular day.I went to my school and did some lovely handwriting then had a important assembly about Tanni Grey.We did our topic,world war two and went to break so I brought my lyrics of ROLLING IN THE DEEP (because there is A year three talent show so I am doing a solo song.) when I got inside, I started to not feel very good and I started to feel weak and have a headache.I had my lunch,which was BBQ chicken and rice.Then I went outside and then the bell rang,this means that we are going inside.That is all for today.But I can not believe that there is only 31 days until the olympics!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!have a nice 2012 london people!!!!!!!!!!WHOA!!!!!!!!

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#100daychallenge 40 days till the games

last day in SA, a rush to make a note of the actions from all of our amazing meetings and then heading home. Pining for my fam, but aware that straight into meetings at Livity UK before I get those hugs. Watch out for a big SA reflection blog post coming soon - just no energy left today zzzzzzzz.  

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#100daychallenge 41 days till the games

no day off for Gav and I as we sit coming up with ideas and solutions for banks, insurance companies, drinks brands, TV channels and more that will both give them business and brand benefit as well as a big dollop of social benefit to the young people of South Africa.

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#100daychallenge 42 days till the games

wonderful day hanging out in the office. Catching up with the team – Claire, Nick, Nkuli, Veshy and of course Gav at the helm. Gav and I gave a debrief of everything we had been up to during the week and I shared some reflections and observations. The team need to be ready to enter the next phase and they are so ready to do that – exciting times.

Night off and dinner with Gavin’s friends Joy and Phillip. Joy runs Ikamva Youth and Phillip is one of Gavin’s fellow Fellows of the Shuttleworth Foundation. Pizza, wine and laughs – just what we needed after such a big week.

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100daychallenge 43 days till the games

Kick started the day with a meeting with impressive and passionate woman from Pearson Education. We shared with her how one of our most proud projects works in the UK www.spinebreakers.co.uk and we talked and talked and got more and more excited about the various things we could and should be doing together in SA. Watch this space.

Debrief on last nights event and a face to get the content edited and up on YouTube.

Sushi at The Codfather. yum.

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#100daychallenge 44 days till the games

Morning meeting with ABSA Bank in J/burg and then whizzed to the airport and back to Cape Town and the OFFICIAL LAUNCH OF LIVE MAGAZINE SA!

 I’ll post a movie of the evening soon!

The best moment for me was when two of the young people from the magazine made speeches about their story and the role Live mag has played in their lives – you can’t make young people say this stuff, and it struck me how similar the stories were to those stories from young people I have heard time and time again over the decade we have been Livity. It was at the moment that I knew we were doing it right here – IT’S WORKING! WHOOP! 

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#100daychallenge 45 days till the games

Bonkers full day of meetings, but we kicked off the day with a visit to Alexander, one of the oldest Townships in J/Burg. We visited a youth Centre there xxx and also met SK a guy whose organisation is about to start distributing Live for us in J/burg. What a brilliant way to start the day of business meetings, with a reality check and reminder about WHY we are doing this. Tiger Brands Foundation – Amazing and sustainable model for giving children breakfast before school – whilst training and equipping schools to hopefully exit and leave clear legacy and continuation -  and move on to feed more children in more schools. Currently feeding 30K children every morning. Meetings with Ernst and Young and Google followed. 

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#100daychallenge 46 days till the games

Land at 6.30 am and pretty much straight to work. It’s only the second time I’ve been to the Livity Africa office, but it feels familiar this time and full of friendly faces to quickly catch up with. Then we’re straight back to the airport late afternoon to fly to J/burg for 48 hours of meetings with brands based there. 

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#100daychallenge 47 days till the games

Lovely lunch with Professor Alison Young, a friend of my fella Remi. Alison is studying the effects of street art and regeneration at the University of Melbourne and then quick goodbyes to the fam and off to Heathrow – heading to South Africa for a week with Gavin Weale and the Livity Africa crew. Very exited. What will the week bring us?