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TGt Meets...Joanne Oatts, Founder & Editor of Faster Ideas - IWD Special

By Joanne Oatts who is the founder & editor of Faster Ideas which is a creativity platform, based in London, to inspire people and organisations to better integrate creativity and creative thinking into their world. Later in the year, the platform will be launching talks and workshops to help businesses of all kinds become more creative.

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is #choosetochallenge – what would you choose to challenge when it comes to gender equality or inequality?

I would challenge the idea of a certain 'old style’ of leadership being able to return as the world starts to emerge from Covid-19. The one thing the pandemic has taught us is that listening, empathy and understanding each other's lives (both our home and work lives) is vitally important. Not only to maintain morale, but also to work more effectively together, protect everyone’s mental health and create a better working environment for everyone.

Thinking of your own experience in the world of business – which inequalities, if any, have you experienced personally or witnessed around gender? 

I’ve been working in the creative industries for over 20 years - variously as a journalist, broadcaster, filmmaker, advertising creative director and artist. In all these fields, it’s constantly surprising how many men manage to move easily into leadership positions without necessarily having as much talent as their female peers. 

Nor do some of them appreciate the basics of how to inspire their workforce or communicate with others in a normal human way. Not only do women have to be super talented, amazing leaders, legendary communicators and ultra-inspiring 24/7, but we also have to be twice as good at all these things to even be considered for leadership positions. 

And that’s before we can expect to be paid the same as a man for doing the same job. In 2021, that’s just ludicrous. That said, I have worked with some brilliant and inspiring male leaders who are amazing champions for women in the workplace. But we need more like them! 

What do you think women offer in particular to the world of business? 

So many things! A completely fresh way of thinking about what has gone before. That goes for all under-represented groups. The greater diversity of minds you have on a project, the more likely you are to come up with new ideas or creative ways of solving a problem. Women, on the whole, offer a greater level of empathy and ability to listen - something that is undervalued in business and in the creative process. 

What do you think men offer in particular to the world of business?

Men can be great champions for others in the room who normally don’t get to speak. But it's also really important to have a balance on any project. I’ve worked on projects, or been in teams, where it’s nearly all-female, or all-male - and frankly, they both have their downsides. 

A mixture of gender, experiences and backgrounds provide greater opportunity for new thinking. They can be men or women, but having people who don’t all look, talk and think the same is the most important thing.

Can you name any women in business you admire? 

Bozoma Saint John, Chief Marketing Officer, Netflix  - I first encountered Bozoma on Tim Ferriss’ podcast. She has a fascinating story and is a real force of nature. She also has amazing nails.

She had a background in fashion, worked with Spike Lee at his agency - and has since gone on to hold CMO and board-level marketing positions at Pepsi, Apple, Uber, and now Netflix. 

I would love to work with her one day.

Stefanie Sword-Williams, Founder, F*ck Being Humble - A former account handler in advertising and marketing agencies, Stephanie has set up an amazing business (and written a book) that helps people, especially women, not shy away from self-promotion.

She’s not afraid of telling it like it is and has built a brand - F*ck Being Humble  - that makes people really sit up and take notice. I’m in awe.

Can you name any men in business you admire? 

Pete Markey, Chief Marketing Officer, Boots - I’ve worked with Pete several times in the different roles he's held (he’s worked at the Post Office, British Gas and TSB in the past) and I interviewed him for a podcast last year. He’s a stand out decent person, an amazing marketing brain and he places huge value on empathy in leadership - and makes sure his teams do too.

Dan Parry, Co-Founder, Tectonic - Dan and I used to work together, and like me he's worn lots of different hats during his career. He recently founded a very exciting business with his brother Nana which helps early-stage start-ups gain vital research insights on their potential customers. Dan is a great human being and I’ve always admired his dynamism. It was great to chat with him as part of my interview series on Faster Ideas - and finally put him in the hot seat to ask some questions I’d never had the chance to before!

Do you think women who start their own business experience more challenges than men? 

Whatever we say and do, there are always people out there who want to tell women what they can and cannot be, or how they should or should not behave. I even have female friends who started businesses and have been subjected to abuse online, mainly by men. That kind of thing stops a lot of very talented women from putting themselves out there. 

What do you think about the gender pay gap? 

It's real for sure. The sooner companies are more transparent with what they pay their male and female staff the better. We can only move forward if we’re completely honest about the situation. 

Also, women need to learn to ask for more. And ask for what they’re worth - not what they think someone else will think they’re worth. I don’t consider myself shy, but even I have had to battle with this sometimes. 

What do you think about the International Women’s Day movement? 

Any day that celebrates women and diversity is important. It promotes conversation around the subject. You just hope that one or two decision-makers with real power hear or see something that makes them change their mind, or make different decisions in the future - things that support and help women, not hold them back.

For more information visit

Fiona Scott Media Consultancy Swindon

Scott Media

Scott Media is run by a UK-based journalist with more than 20 years' experience in the media - print, radio and television.

6 Gold View, Swindon, Wiltshire, SN5 8GZ

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