16
Jul
Aga Maciejewska

The pandemic of inequalities

Posted by Aga MaciejewskaTagged , , , , , , , ,

Last week, the Health Foundation’s Unequal pandemic, fairer recovery report made headlines, revealing that throughout the pandemic, the chances of dying from Covid-19 were nearly four times higher for adults of working age in England’s poorest areas than for those in the wealthiest places.

The report is just the latest in the string of evidence that the pandemic has not been ‘a great leveller’, as some people referred to it back in the spring of 2020. The UK has struggled with deep-rooted, socioeconomic inequalities for years. Those have not only contributed to the country’s high and unequal death toll from Covid-19 but have also been exacerbated and made worse, particularly for some groups, including ethnic minorities, women and those on low pay.

Andy Ratcliffe, Executive Director for Programmes at Impact for Urban Health, has been working with families in the South London boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark to understand how various inequalities impact population’s health. As he explains:

“Health inequality is the starkest manifestation of other inequalities – unfairness tends to layer on unfairness. If you’re subject to systemic racism, you are also more likely to be poor, live in lower quality housing and then you’re more likely to get sick. All those things interact. Fundamentally, it’s the inequality that’s the issue and health inequality is just the starkest example.”

Looking at the impact of the pandemic,  Andy has no doubt that it has made the existing inequalities worse and that this might sadly be just the beginning:

“We layered Covid on top of an already very unequal situation. We haven’t really even started to feel the impacts of the economic pandemic and the long-term health effects of it. We’ve seen a lot of policy changes, such as furlough and the uplift of universal credit, designed to help people through the pandemic. When those start to fall away, we will have an economic wave that could have huge long term health consequences.”

 

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23
Jun
Natasha Machin

We like big books and we cannot lie

Posted by Natasha MachinTagged , , ,

One of the few silver linings of the multiple lockdowns across the past 15 months, was a significant and unexpected amount of free time at home. At first it was an overwhelming amount of free time – but gradually, people found their own way to fill it and help them get through a difficult time.

With no work commute and extra time spent at home, people across the country seized the opportunity to find new interests, such as baking, exercise, online virtual parties and quizzes, crafting, gaming – the list goes on.

With the recent annual profits report from Bloomsbury Publishing showing that book sales rose by 14% in the year to the end of February, it is clear that many found comfort and solace in picking up a good old book, and reading for pleasure.

The pandemic has been a challenging time for many, and the escapism of a good book enabling readers to explore someone else’s mind, experiences and story, gave us a release from the reality of the day-to-day of lockdown and rising Covid-19 cases. There’s no denying that reading has a positive effect on your mental health and can be a great way to practice mindfulness. A 2015 report from Quick Reads showed that reading helps to reduce stress levels and improve wellbeing – all the more vital against the backdrop of a global pandemic.

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25
May
Georgie Howlett

Can fashion change its ways?

Posted by Georgie HowlettTagged , , , , ,

Clothes are wrapped up in our identity. What we wear says something about us – whether we care about that or not. Over the centuries, clothes have symbolised status. Our outfit can affect our mood. We have special clothes for special occasions. Clothes can be a socio-political statement. And some people can’t afford clothes.

For quite some time, second-hand clothing has been broadly seen as second-rate. There have always been those creative individuals with a flair for unearthing vintage gems in a charity shop, but now society is reaching a tipping point. As someone who is fascinated by human behaviour and how to encourage habits that help the planet, I have been watching this gather momentum over the last few years.

Motivated by ‘voting with their wallet’ and reducing their carbon footprint, individuals have already been pushing change within other sectors e.g. single-use plastics, organic or local food, fairtrade supply chains. But we’ve been a little slower on the clothing front because it’s a hard habit to kick. As I said, clothes are deeply connected to our identity. And the fashion cycle is strong.

But the impact of the clothing industry is becoming harder to ignore: 350,000 tonnes of used but still wearable clothing goes to landfill each year in the UK, and it takes 1,800 gallons of water to grow enough cotton for one pair of jeans. Depressingly, the fashion industry is actually responsible for a huge chunk of global water pollution – it consumes more energy than shipping and aviation combined, and by 2050 is anticipated to be responsible for 25% of the world’s remaining carbon budget.

Better late than never, second-hand is experiencing a much-needed makeover. Driven by early adopters and influencers like Michaela Coel and Maquita Oliver, demand is sky-rocketing, with Gen Z at the helm of social norming pre-loved. Brands are having to adapt to put sustainability at the top of the agenda. (The significance of purpose / ESG / sustainability in the boardroom is something that we’ve seen grow steadily with clients across all sectors.)

I’d like to offer some proof points that show businesses need to go beyond organic fabrics and ethical supply chains and embrace a truly circular approach:

  • While brands like Mud Jeans have pioneered circular thinking for some time, mainstream brands are now joining the movement. Cos, owned by H&M, has launched a resale service on its website, Asos has seen vintage sales rise by 92% and Asda announced recently that it will sell second hand clothing in 50 supermarkets
  • Trend-setting teens have been trading clothes on Depop, Vinted, and Nuw, and renting through apps like Hurr and ByRotation in rising numbers – younger generations are taking their thrift hacks and tutorials to TikTok
  • Websites and apps that sell used clothing, such as Loopster and Kidclo, are growing fast, and eBay has sold over 60 million used items in the last year

We’re not there yet, though. The global apparel market is worth $1.5 trillion and is growing. A recent article on Bloomberg highlights that “while #thrifthaul and #knitting have a not-insignificant 456 million and 478 million views respectively on TikTok, #Sheinhaul — in which users showcase purchases from the ultra-cheap, ultra-fast fashion store SHEIN — has 2.3 billion”. And despite Boohoo being exposed for serious ethical failings, it’s still trading and successfully.

The other behaviour to watch out for is that, with the pre-loved market easing the conscience, people will continue to buy new, under the premise that they will re-sell rather than throw away. Charities and leading voices in this sector need to keep the focus on starting with second-hand, rather than easing the psychological burden with ‘recycling’. In the end, recycling is the last of the three pillars around addressing our problem with waste – the first two are ‘reduce’ and ‘reuse’.

But I’m optimistic. Sustainable habits are taking root, and even though this overhaul of the fashion industry will take more than one generation, it feels like a shift that is here to stay.

13
May
Sadie Fox

Taking the time to reflect, recoup, reset and reward

Posted by Sadie FoxTagged , , ,

As many will say, the pandemic which has consumed our lives over the last year, has provided us with opportunities to reflect, recoup, reset and rightly reward ourselves.

In one full cycle, we’ve gone through the ups and downs of home working, the trials and tribulations of Zoom and ongoing lockdown fears. After what has felt like a 2-year life break for many, we are now starting to see the circle of life spring back into action, once more.

It’s certainly been an emotional journey; however, despite the majority of us being eager to get back into the swing of things, it is of course important to remember those in our lives who have anxiety about returning to a ‘normal’ society and those who have consistency struggled throughout the pandemic. We are all human, with our own poignant pandemic story to tell, so taking the time to reflect recoup, reset and reward will be just as prevalent post-pandemic, as it was beforehand.

As we break out of our home offices and return to our social offices, now is the perfect time for us to reflect on the workplace champions who vow to continue investing and understanding the importance of the infamous work life balance.

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28
Apr
Lucy Chapple

A tale of two crises

Posted by Lucy ChappleTagged , , , ,

Introducing our new series, ‘Sustainnovation in a post-pandemic world’.  

In his now famous speech to London’s insurance market in 2015, Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, described catastrophic climate change as the ‘tragedy of the horizon’. Limiting global temperature increases would necessitate leaving valuable fossil fuel assets in the ground – a scenario with cascading implications for the energy sector, and investors and governments banking on future profits from those assets. Because the burden of climate change will be carried by future generations, the incentive to change felt ‘abstract’. The risks of inaction were real, he argued, but not immediate.

In the five years since Carney delivered this speech, climate change consciousness has steadily grown. 2019 was a watershed year for environmental activism. Warnings by the IPCC on the far-reaching effects of inaction, and new evidence of mass biodiversity loss, prompted the declaration of a ‘climate emergency’. Global protests led by Greta Thunberg and other young people around the world dominated the news agenda. ‘Our house is on fire’ Thunberg warned, urging international leaders to take decisive action.

In 2020, a new crisis emerged that was more urgent and more immediately catastrophic. The Covid-19 pandemic threatened to bring our healthcare system to its knees, to tank our economy, and to take the lives of society’s most vulnerable. As resources were redistributed to support international efforts to combat the deadly virus, some wondered about the impact of this new crisis on what we’d come to recognise as the moral crisis of our time – climate change. How could we sustain momentum to avoid devastating our planet, in the face of a health emergency devastating our people?

In our new series, ‘Sustainnovation in a post-pandemic world’, we hope to uncover a deeper understanding of the impact of the pandemic on the road to net-zero. Exploring the nexus between sustainability and innovation, we’ll speak to business leaders to understand the role of green innovation in economic recovery efforts as we cautiously emerge from lockdown. Deep-dives into key sectors, from transport and mobility to financial services, energy and infrastructure, will reveal shifts in business strategy, attitudes and behaviour over the past year.

We look forward to sharing what we learn with you.

If you are a business leader in our network interested in contributing your thoughts, we are inviting guest submissions for this series and would love to hear from you. For those interested in checking out ‘Sustainnovation in a post-pandemic world’, please subscribe to our newsletter for updates, at the bottom of our home page.

21
Apr
Eryl Bradley

Lessons from lambing

Posted by Eryl BradleyTagged , , ,

From the time the pandemic hit, I’ve spent even more time than usual back with my family in west Wales. Most notably, this has meant helping out on my aunt and uncles’ 350-acre farm during lambing season. While being a great conversation starter, farming also undoubtedly gives you a new perspective on office life. Here’s three key things I’ve taken away.

It’s PR, not ER

Comms – and specifically, PR – is consistently voted one of the most stressful sectors to work in. With immediate decisions needed almost every hour, and with most journalists expecting everything yesterday, agency life can be extremely high pressure.

When you’re lambing, in some ways, the stress is similar. The constant re-prioritisation of which lamb or ewe is more in need of help is exhausting, and keeping a mental map of where every animal is and who’s been fed is no easy task. This can feel similar to juggling client needs and knowing what member of the team is working on what, when. But the fact that lambing is also a very physical job – without designated office hours – means you tire physically as well as mentally, and frequently have to get up in the middle of the night to do it all again.

As well as this, what you’re doing day-to-day is often the difference between life and death. If you forget to give a vulnerable lamb a bottle, even once, that can be the end. And that’s on you. When you go from dealing with decisions that can alter the life course of an animal, it reminds you to have perspective on that sell in that didn’t go so well, or the harsh client feedback that could have once ruined your day. As a wise colleague once reminded me – it’s public relations, not the emergency room.

 

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13
Apr
Olivia Williams

Believe in Better: Insight and inspiration from industry leaders

Posted by Olivia WilliamsTagged , ,

Over the past year, events such as Brexit, the new US administration and of course Covid-19 have shaken up market order, and at times, currency markets responded with unparalleled volatility. However, with challenges also come new opportunities. New and promising markets are constantly emerging and specialists are becoming increasingly vital for facilitating international trade.

We spoke to Lee McDarby, CEO of UK International Payments at moneycorp – the international fintech and payments group – about currency volatility and the impact on UK businesses, how the financial services sector has adapted to the challenges of the past year, and what ‘better’ looks like for the industry.

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30
Mar
Aga Maciejewska

2020 – what we learnt about clients and ourselves

Posted by Aga MaciejewskaTagged , ,

At the end of last year, we reached out to our clients asking them to reflect on how the pandemic had impacted their approach to communications and the way we worked together.  We were keen to understand what we did well, could have done better, and what was important to maintain as we start to come out the other side of the pandemic.

Not surprisingly, the results showed that 2020 marked a big shift for our clients. 67% of respondents said the pandemic required them to fundamentally change how they communicate as an organisation, and/ or change the messages they delivered.  For half of them, it emphasised the importance of strategic communications.

Reflecting on the role Stand has played in supporting their comms objectives throughout the pandemic, 50% said we helped them navigate communications challenges in a proactive way and a third said we provided strategic advice and acted as a trusted partner. As a result, 33% of respondents said that their relationship with Stand is stronger than it was before the pandemic.

Stand’s ethos of backing brands that believe in better resonated strongly with 73% of clients, who said it aligned with their own work towards creating positive change. Clients value our strong understanding of their business objectives, our flexibility, responsiveness, empathy and understanding. Proactive, approachable and professional were the three words people thought best reflected Stand and our work.

When it comes to our values – staying curious, sharing our passion and enthusiasm, writing our own rules, being tenacious, giving the best advice and always keeping people at the heart of what we do – clients see them lived, and reflected in our work.

As the UK slowly emerges from the pandemic, we want to learn from the last year and continue to look for new ways to help our clients meet the challenges and seize the opportunities of the post-covid world. We believe real change is coming, and we can help them on their own journey towards ‘better’.

19
Mar
Grace French

A year of working from home

Posted by Grace FrenchTagged , , , ,

How we’ve adapted, what we’ve learnt, and what will change

Like so many others, I remember the surreal afternoon of 16th March 2020 very clearly. At Stand HQ, we were gathered around our TV watching Boris Johnson urge the nation to start working from home immediately.

At the time, it was assumed we’d be a ‘WFH nation’ for a few weeks. But fast-forward a year and our dining tables are still our desks, our lounges are our offices, and our pets make regular guest appearances on video calls.

In a year where time has (almost) lost all meaning, we’ve been reflecting on what a full year of working from home has meant to us, not only as colleagues, but also as a nation.

It’s been a year of fundamental change that’s prompted governments, industries, businesses and individuals to evolve out of necessity, but also to reflect on what really matters. It’s been a reset button that we never could have planned for, but that we have to act on.

So, as lockdown restrictions gradually lift (third time lucky) and offices begin to re-open, we’ll be enthusiastically returning to a “new different” rather than a “new normal.”

Here are our key learnings and reflections from a year like no other:

Adapt quickly, stay flexible

We work on laptops so could adapt immediately to WFH. But of course, there were teething problems to overcome, with WFH environments varying greatly. Our serviced office has remained open and Covid-compliant, but recognising that everyone has individual personal and commuting circumstances, we couldn’t rely on this as a solution for all.

A quickfire investment in screens, office chairs, keyboards and headsets ensured we could all work from home effectively. Looking forward, we’re now set up for greater flexibility, and productive working, both at the office and from home.

Quality, not quantity communication

The transition to WFH is a major one at the best of times. But during a time of significant confusion, emotion, and concern, it had to be managed sensitively. Keeping colleagues connected and avoiding isolation, without overwhelming our diaries with meetings and socials, was a delicate balance to strike. Over time we found the perfect balance: a weekly company meeting, wellness-focused session, 1-2-1 coffee catch up, and a fun activity (needle-felting, pub quizzes, jazzercize, laughter yoga – you name it, we’ve done it!).

We’ll be adapting this model as we head back into the office, and continuing to dedicate time to celebrating success, alongside prioritising wellbeing and creativity. 

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18
Mar
Tani Fatuga

Believe in Better: Insight and inspiration from industry leaders

Posted by Tani FatugaTagged , , ,

Britain is the birthplace of the industrial revolution – and despite the challenges presented by global and domestic events such as Covid-19 and Brexit, for many manufacturers, the past year has presented opportunities to diversify and grow their business.

One of the silver linings of such a difficult 2020 is that we have been forced to look at what we can produce a little closer to home. Supply chains are becoming more centralised as companies have been encouraged to innovate and create better ways of sourcing products, ethically and locally.

Recently, we sat down with John Pearce, CEO of Made in Britain, a not-for-profit organisation that supports British manufacturers under a single, registered collective mark.

John talks about the role of the manufacturing industry in reaching the country’s net-zero target, how we can encourage more people to buy British, and why becoming fairer and more ethical are key factors in the future success of British manufacturing.

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