Steph is Champion of Change Winner in the Management Today Inspiring Women in Business Awards

On 4 June, Steph was one of 21 inspiring women recognised at the Management Today Inspiring Women in Business Awards.

The Awards celebrate talented, visionary and ground-breaking businesswomen of all ages, at every level and across all sectors. Steph was recognised in the Championing Change category, honouring those making dynamic and brave changes within their workplace or industry.

The award is the fourth win for SoLo in 2020. Earlier this year Steph was recognised at the Timewise 2020 Power 50 Awards and in Campaign Magazine’s Female Frontier list; while SoLo was shortlisted in two categories in the 6th Annual Better Society Awards.

The judges applauded SoLo for disrupting the traditional and often harsh ‘bleed-to-succeed’ advertising agency model. They also praised us for being one of the only Community Interest Companies in the business (investing 50% of profit in social value projects) and our inclusive, remote working model which offers flexibility and work-life balance to mums, carers and OAPs. 

Steph says:

“It’s wonderful to be recognised by so many organisations for our unique business model and hope that I have inspired others to understand that business should be a balance of reward and rewarding. Applause goes particularly to my team and the clients who have come on this journey with me.”

Read more about Steph’s brave vision for Social & Local and where it all began.

See who joined Steph on the Management Today Inspiring Women in Business Winners List

Is India leading the world in Social Purpose?

Two years ago, the Indian Government passed legislation mandating Indian companies to set aside 2% of post-tax profits to deliver social advancement. The ruling applies to companies with profits of circa £50,000 or more. This is a significant shift given that a number of companies tell us that they are currently sharing 1% through CSR programmes. The Indian Government has determined the key qualifying themes for funding as: Healthcare, Employment, Bio-Diversity and Gender Equality. There has been a three year lead in to allow companies to get their policies and approaches sorted. So companies will in theory be publishing their actions and focus within the next 12 months. However, whilst window watching is useful, there’s no substitute for talking to those responsible about their progress and the challenges and how work in India is correlating with social purpose advancement in Europe. Thus in February this year, we travelled to India to meet with business leaders and learn more about how the new legislation is influencing their work and whether there were learnings for us, our clients and our own social focus. We were fortunate to be able to speak with a range of experts – the majority, face to face in Mumbai, Pune and Chennai. We are deeply grateful to the likes of Tata & Sons, HSBC, Dow and Sandvik. We also caught up with ad industry peers Bates CHI and a number of social purpose champions. We learned that the market is grappling with its responsibilities, not least due to a lack of understanding about the detail of compliancy. There are numerous CSR consultants on the sub-continent working to support industry, but as yet clarity is not determined. Moreover, whilst models in the West are shifting towards an integrated perspective of social purpose – their inherent customer offers and operational re-alignments, described best as ‘profit from purpose’ – India appears wedded to a focus on profit funding philanthropy. The largest of the Indian conglomerates appear to be addressing the operational frameworks across their business interests, often setting up internal consultancy units to advise their family companies on how to proceed. Meanwhile, the Indian Oligarchy remain rooted in family control of philanthropic work as a response. Those companies that are regional divisions of global corporations are to a great extent at the mercy of the pace of their parentage and global policy, which as yet has not necessarily recognised that India’s trading environment is going to be different. For those immersed in purposeful work, a challenge they recognise is that social change cannot be one dimensional. Whilst they fully embrace their ability and responsibility for funding big infrastructure based initiatives, there is no co-ordinated approach to changing behaviours as yet. So, from our perspective we learned that there are opportunities to talk about our experience and skills in behaviour change campaigning and in delivering public/private sector partnerships to leverage the best results. From a social funding perspective, we see potential to use our own social fund to finance and train up micro-local communications champions who can support and lead campaigns within their communities. From our own corporate clients’ perspective, we see opportunities for them to bring together their peers in South East Asia and share their approaches to social purpose integration, to encourage knowledge share and capacity building. This might be amplified if mirrored Government to Government by our Public Sector faithful. For the Not for Profits for whom we work, there are new opportunities to co-create new and innovative support services and to engage with Indian companies as their activities expand.