Edinburgh PR firm’s 80 per cent female team earns its Stripes

With an entire female board, an 80 percent female team and a trophy cabinet bursting with more than 60 awards, city communications agency Stripe is proving sisters are doing it for themselves – and succeeding.

Thursday, 7th March 2019, 8:08 am
Updated Friday, 8th March 2019, 6:27 pm
The Stripe team: Gemma Bell, Juliet Simpson, Morna McLelland and Hilary Joiner. Picture: TSPL

And to mark International Women’s Day tomorrow the Stripe Communications founder and CEO Juliet Simpson spoke to the Evening News about heading an award-winning business and the importance of taking time to celebrate achievement.

“I think this is a truly special time be a woman – the world is changing, and women need to take advantage of every opportunity they are presented with.

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“For International Women’s Day we realised that it was time for us to be proud. Hopefully our story will inspire others to fulfil their own potential whatever that may be. Like so many women, we’re so busy getting through each day that we don’t take time out to stop and recognise what we’ve achieved so I’m often surprised by people’s reaction to have we’ve done.”

Juliet and Stripe’s story began in 2006 with a clear ambition - to be the best.

But as the firm developed it also learnt the importance, and benefits of retaining senior women in the business.

Although the female bias in Stripe is quite normal as two thirds of people working in the public relations profession are women, typically only 13 percent of women make it to board level.

“It’s still disappointing and I’m pleased that’s an areas where we excel,” Juliet said.

“I think when you have a female leader in any business, it helps foster an environment where women are recruited, promoted and retained at a senior level more easily.

“Whilst we’re not perfect we have learnt a huge amount retaining senior women in our business. It’s very easy to use HR as a starting point but it’s not just about policies, it’s about culture.

“If a management team treats their staff as real people with a life outside of work, then it allows people to achieve greater balance without the guilt that often drives them to leave. All staff need to feel like they are supported to have a flexible working day, that they can be there for family when it matters, that they can have a baby and that ultimately their career won’t suffer as a result.”

And since 2006 there have been 27 “Stripe” babies – with 92 percent of parents returning to work, 100 percent of the board are working parents.

Juliet said the 2014 Commonwealth Games contract was a “standout” for Stripe, and it coincided at a time when seven staff were on maternity leave.

“We were managing sponsorships for IRN-BRU, Strathmore and John Lewis as well as working for the Games themselves,” she said. “It was 14 long days of events, photocalls, stunts but the team came together to deliver brilliant results.”

The firm has a cabinet groaning with gongs from Marketing Society Agency Employer Brand of the Year for the second time in 2018, to being labelled one of only nine PR agencies in the world to winning a coveted Cannes Lion for creativity as well as scooping a Stevie International Woman in Business Award for best female run business under 50 employees.