A huge welcome to @Sasha Henry-Crawford as an Advisor to @noturningback2020.
During her Marketing career Sasha has worked for Travelex, Homeserve, Islamic Bank of Britain and Barclays. For the past six years, she has worked for Royal Mail in multiple roles and currently leads the Retail Mail portfolio looking after advertising, business and consumer mail products.
Sasha shares her thoughts on the need for more diversity in the Marketing sector and how in her words “the sector is at risk of more severe talent loss due to experienced ethnic minority marketers choosing to pursue careers in other sectors and upcoming ethnic minority talent deciding to try other sectors because they cannot see a route to leadership in Marketing and Communications”.
Being a NoTurningBack2020 Advisor will enable her ‘to play an active role in nurturing marketing talent from an ethnic minority or lower socio-economic background as well as leveraging her networks and position in her business to drive change across the sector”
Sasha will be leading one of our ‘retention of talent workstreams’ @noturningback2020 with @alexcole and @adrianwalcott Co Founder
How did you break into the Communications/marketing industry and why did you decide to follow this career path?
|I started working in marketing immediately after completing a BSc. in International Relations and Economics. From very early in my career, I was fascinated by organisational structures and how they convey value, promote and sell their products and services. I was equally curious about consumers’ perceptions of value and the factors influencing their purchase decisions. This led me on journey to research on marketing and enterprises, initially to deepen my theoretical understanding of the discipline of marketing and to advance my qualifications. However, the more I learnt about marketing the greater the pull to be a Marketer. I was keen to test my understanding of the principles of marketing and subsequently moved into marketing communications to put the theory into practice. In more recent years, I have pivoted to leading product portfolios, which enables me to consolidate the breadth of my experience to drive strategic change and have greater impact in the business and the markets we serve.|
Where have you worked?
|Most of my career has been spent working in the financial services before moving into media transport and logistics. I have worked for Travelex, Homeserve, Islamic Bank of Britain and Barclays. For the past six years, I have worked for Royal Mail, in multiple roles. I currently lead the Retail Mail portfolio looking after advertising, business and consumer mail products.|
What area of marketing/comms are you an expert in?
|I’ve worked across several marketing functions ranging from a generalist to specialist roles in campaign management and marketing research. With this varied background, about a decade ago I decided to pursue roles that would allow me to actively utilise the breadth of my knowledge and experience to influence commercial strategy and deliver greater long-term impact beyond specific campaigns. My career pivoted to focus on value creation and leading change. Since then, I have moved into leading the strategy for proposition development, product management and more recently – strategic leadership of multiple lines of business. Moving into a commercial leadership role allowed me to own the end-to-end strategy of products and services, influence change at critical points in the lifecycle to maximise impact for my target audience and in parallel, align and prioritise investment to meet corporate targets.|
Describe a Marketing campaign you have worked on that has had really meaningful long-term impact and been a catalyst for behavioural change
|A few years ago, whilst working in Product Development at Royal Mail, I was asked to develop a new ‘test and learn’ mail incentive for our Retail business. The challenge at the time was to identify the audience and parameters that would inspire trial of mail. I researched previous customers who declared their mail campaign as a test activity and evaluated their posting profile over time. I also reviewed the testing offers from other media channels as well as the positioning and key messages utilised to encourage brands to try these channels. From this research, I discovered the critical proof points to inspire testing wasn’t to evidence mail as superior to other broadcast channels, but rather to demonstrate the relevance and effectiveness of mail as a complementary media channel and to supplement with the right test environment (type of mail products, test price and duration of test period) to encourage target customers to try mail. I proposed a new structure for our test and learn framework along with a new eligibility criterion for businesses of varying sizes and experience in using mail for acquisition or retention campaigns. I developed the key messages which informed the marketing campaign and the KPIs to monitor progress. The campaign was well received by our customers and several years later, remains one of our most successful and sticky incentives to win new customers, retain their posting traffic and grow existing customers mail volume post testing. Beyond the performance of the scheme itself, the test and learn incentive laid the groundwork for the current well-established programme of product developments and multi-million-pound targeted incentives to support our customers evolving needs.|
What do you see as being the main problems for the Marketing & Communications sector re the lack of ethnic and lower socio-economic diversity?
|The main problem is that the sector has been slow to evolve with the changing demographic and socio-economic profiles of the communities it serves. There continues to be a shortfall of leadership diversity, which makes the sector unattractive to talented ethnic minorities seeking to advance their careers. The problem is bigger than the sector. In most organisations, ethnic minority representation at senior management and board level remains well below the national population average, due to an inherent lack of focus and investment in diversity and inclusion, further stifled by outdated recruitment practices which fail to attract, nurture and retain diverse talent at all levels. By the end of 2020, only 3.5% of leaders in the FTSE 100 were from ethnic minorities, a 50% reduction from 2019 (Green Park, 2021) in stark contrast to an estimated 14% of the UK population being from an ethnic minority background. Consequently, the sector is at risk of more severe talent loss due to experienced ethnic minority marketers choosing to pursue careers in other sectors and upcoming ethnic minority talent deciding to try other sectors because they cannot see a route to leadership in Marketing and Communications.
The world is changing and consumers’ buying behaviour is increasingly influenced by what is happening around them. Consumers are becoming more aware of the side-lining of ethnic minorities. They (consumers) have choices and will eventually demand more diverse leadership composition and more socially responsible choices from their brands.
Why have you joined NoTurningBack2020 as an Advisor?
|Having worked for several years in commercial environments being the only ethnic minority and or only female marketer, I have first-hand experience of how daunting this can feel. There have been times when the challenges before me led to some self-doubt and loss of confidence. Having come through these tough moments (and they are only moments) to deliver meaningful results; I am fully committed to helping others to advance their marketing competence, grow in confidence and emotional intelligence to navigate the landscape and achieve their desired personal and professional outcomes.
Being a NoTurningBack2020 Advisor enables me to play an active role in nurturing marketing talent from an ethnic minority or lower socio-economic background as well as leveraging my networks and position in my business to drive change across the sector.
What more do you think companies can do to overcome prejudice in the workplace?
|Biases take many forms, especially in the context of an organisation. There has never been a better time for organisations to be brave and transform words to actions if they really want to have a positive impact.
A critical ingredient to overcoming biases is for HR/Diversity & Inclusion professionals and business leaders to normalise diversity and inclusion, in particular – embracing differences (visual and non-visual) as part of the standard ways of working. This is by no means a simple task, especially in more traditional work environments and may require radical change by way of a complete overhaul of the culture, recruitment practices and potentially the leadership. Further, more attention should be paid to the lived experiences of those impacted by prejudice and unconscious biases. This can be achieved through listening to the stories of individuals from underrepresented groups and proactively challenging attitudes and behaviours which obstruct the talent progression of ethnic minorities. Organisations should also adopt a continuous learning approach, which facilitates the evolution of policies and procedures to support the ongoing progression of individuals from ethnic minority and lower socio-economic background.
Ultimately, we won’t achieve change until we accept where we are now, work together across industry and academia to build a more inclusive Marketing and Communications sector and commit to effectively monitoring and subsequently sharing the progress made.