Mind The Gap- Women & The Future of Work

Where is the future of work for women headed? Read my article for Huffington Post on how women can maximise their chances in the work place and there’s so much more to it than the gender pay gap. Read full article on Huffington Post, here.

 

We’d love to know what you think and where the solutions lie. Tweet @inspirEngage/ @Melody_Hossaini

 

New IFS stats show there's still an 18% pay gap between men & women

Women earn 18% less than men on average, according to new research. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) also found that the gap balloons after women have children, raising the prospect that mothers are missing out on pay rises and promotions. That is echoed by a separate report on Tuesday suggesting that male managers are 40% more likely than female managers to be promoted.

I think we need to stop putting women’s pathway in a box and say ‘well it would be the same for men’ – it’s simply not! The stats show that. Whether it’s men or women, if they become a parent with responsibility for child care and are stepping back from a career but they wish to continue working and prospering, then it’s important that companies value the skill and experience and where possible (and some need to make effort to make it possible, if not currently) for them to work flexible hours and be eligible for the same salary rises as those working full-time. Becoming a mother gives you fresh ambition and if valued and invested in, it can provide much asset for companies. Instead it’s wasted.
Yes we are improving and we should celebrate the lower rate – however, for the current focus there is on innovative thinking, working and female empowerment, it’s actually disappointing. InspirEngage International, a social enterprise I run, delivers a programme called ‘Startup & Stilettos- The Future is Female’ (see a snapshot video here)  and in this, we train women who have lost their confidence to launch their own social enterprises and become economically independent. It has shown us that business sometimes is the only place women can create their own rules and those women should be applauded. However, a vast majority of women who work in companies who still operate with a marked gender pay gap, are affected. I support Government’s plans to publish the bigger companies’ pay gap, but the change will continue to happen slowly unless we are willing restructure the labour market to allow skilled and ambitious women (particularly mothers) to thrive.

However, the problem isn’t solely for companies and Government to solve. Another important factor in addressing the gender pay gap is women being afraid to challenge their employers in asking the tough questions & wanting to be paid their worth. Research shows that women’s ambition dips whereas men’s grows- is that due to the system of being undervalued or is it us?

We need to work on the women as well as challenging the employers. This is what we do at InspirEngage with our programmes aimed at women and the speaking tours I undertake- once you understand your worth, your skills and what you are working for, you’re more likely to be able to match it with ambition and productivity. Not only that, but we are now working with companies to increase a sense of purpose connected to the company vision for women which research has shown increases retention. This is good for the employer and for the women.

 

Upcoming events Melody will be speaking at, connected to this subject:

  • Keynote speaker, Future Fest, on the subject of future of work for young people and women, 17 September, London
  • Speaker at 18th Global Women in Leadership Economic Forum in Dubai, on the subject of career and purpose for women, October 2016
  • Speaker at CSR Lebanon Forum in Beirut, October 2016
  • Trainer at Women’s Forum, Deauville, France, November 2016
For all enquiries, email info@inspirEngage.com. Tweet: @inspirEngage / @Melody_Hossaini

Watch Melody speaking at TEDx Women in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

 

Finally telling you what I really think of the EU Referendum

On Thursday 23 June the UK will vote to remain or leave the European Union. I’ve heard people speak about ‘immigrants’ as if they’re a faceless group- well here’s what I think about the EU referendum as an immigrant’s point of view, social entrepreneur and a youth engagement expert.

 

Today also marks the first day of global refugee week which I am so proud to support as part of the #IAmARefugee campaign to help humanise the migration debate. See more information here.
Let me know what you think- Tweet/ Insta: @Melody_Hossaini

Refugee plaques including mine on iamarefugee.net website

Monday 20th June marks the start of International Refugee Week- and with it the ‘I am a Refugee’ campaign led by JCWI. I am delighted to be part of this important aim to humanise the migration debate in people’s minds as well as to celebrate the positive (and in some cases) world-changing contribution made by refugees right here in the UK. See http://www.iamarefugee.net

I’m honoured to be in the company of people like Judith Kerr (author), Michael Marks (co-founder of Marks & Spencer), and Rita Ora (singer) and who are just some of the remarkable refugees supporting the mission, with plaques being displayed at St Paul’s Cathedral all week (see pic below). My own personal plaque will also be displayed at my University, Oxford Brookes and will be unveiled on Monday 20th June.

Plaques displayed at St Paul's Cathedral London

As we mark the start of International Refugee Week, there is an alarming number of refugees with uncertain futures. The unfairness & disgust with which I hear immigrants & refugees being talked about, reminds me of dark times in history. The most vulnerable people in our world are being scapegoated and this is unjust.

As many of you know, my family and I fled from Iran during the Gulf war of the 80s when I was 2 years old. Fleeing by land with two small children, is not an easy task my parents embarked upon, but they wanted better lives for us here in Europe. Contrary to what many still believe, no one wants to flee their home, their relatives, their lives and everything they know and take such a big risk- especially with children. People do it when they feel they have no other choice. We helped create these circumstances (as a world), so we must also help bear the brunt of the result. Otherwise it’s like inviting someone for dinner and expecting them to pick up the bill.

I grew up in Sweden where I lived for 11 years before moving to the UK at the age of 13. Since the age of 13, I committed myself to helping and developing opportunities for young people in British communities- becoming co-founder of UK Youth Parliament (collecting the most petitions which were presented to 10 Downing Street) and together, managed to change policies to benefit those who most needed it. Fast forward, and 18 years later I’m still in the same sector, as a social entrepreneur and Founder of InspirEngage International, supporting people and businesses to do well by doing good. I am most proud of the victimised women we helped to become economically active, the young people who had lost hope that we helped into purposeful employment and the businesses we’ve supported to be more socially conscious.

I’m proud of being an ex-war refugee & immigrant in this country- having contributed what I have to British communities. And yet, time and time again, I hear people speaking of immigrants and refugees as if they are a faceless group- a group you can speak about, as you surely are never faced with one. A group we can blame, because they aren’t powerful enough to affect us. This campaign shows you profiles of those- the ones some feel are draining this country, who have made the UK what it is today.

As we approach the EU Referendum vote on Thursday 23 June, I catch glimpses of conversations on the news and wonder if it’s a film. Why have we gone back in time? Is it an EU Referendum or an immigration vote – it seems interchangeable. A ‘them and us’ attitude and politicise are never good for Britain and the world. In the long term, this will harm our communities. As a non-UK national, I will be locked out of the voting station on Thursday, but I urge you to use your vote.

In the meantime, let’s celebrate International Refugee Week and the people who have contributed to this country, but most importantly, continue fighting for the rights of protection of those whose futures remain uncertain.

Melody

(email: melody@inspirEngage.com. Tweet/ insta: @Melody_Hossaini)

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‘Do well by doing good’ that’s the InspirEngage message. It’s such a pleasure when we can work with young people to train them to do exactly that. This year marked the 4 year of our involvement and partnership with Mosaic and the National Enterprise Challenge. Once again, we brought all the finalists of the challenge together and delivered a tailored InspirEngage Social Enterprise Bootcamp – helping the 13-15 year-olds to develop their aspirations of future careers, deepen their life skills as well as learn how they can take their social enterprise ideas to the next level.

A quote from a teacher at the Bootcamp

Here’s the summary from the Mosaic article (see original source here)

Some of the finalists from May’s Grand Final of Mosaic’s Enterprise Challenge recently took part in an Enterprise Bootcamp run by businesswoman and trainer Melody Hossaini of InspirEngage.

Throughout the day, Melody built on the impressive skills that the young people had already demonstrated in the Enterprise Challenge competition and led workshops for them designed to hone and extend their business acumen and further raise their confidence. The feedback from the pupils at the end of the busy was very positive. Nathan Gage from Rivers Academy in Hounslow said: “I enjoyed today very much and I learnt a lot of valuable skills about communication in business.”

Kajal Parekh from Dixons Kings Academy in Yorkshire, said: “This was hugely beneficial for me, not just in terms of business but I’ve also learnt a lot of skills that will helpful in everyday life.”

Hamzah Khan, Head of Year 9 at Dixons Kings Academy, said: “Today’s Enterprise Bootcamp has been fantastic. Melody engaged the students in a really fun and interactive way whilst also helping them to understand some important business concepts and develop the skills needed to be a successful social entrepreneur. The students have had a great day and I’m sure it will give them the confidence and know-how to be able to achieve great things in business in the future.”

Jack, a student from Rivers Academy added: “Today has really helped in terms of bring able to use new skills in daily life. We have leant how to understand how people can notice how you feel based on how you act through body language.”

Abusafian from Dixons Kings added: “Today has helped with our confidence and has taught us what to do and what not to do when presenting. I have enjoyed looking at feedback and learning about evaluations.”

Mosaic’s West Midlands Regional Manager, Becky Mitchell said: “The Bootcamp was a really inspiring and interesting day where the students gain many skills that will not only aid them in the future careers but day to day lives as well. The students went on a journey throughout the day which was fascinating to watch and you could clearly see, in the space of a few hours, the confidence and learning that they had gained. An excellent day and thoroughly recommended! Thank you!”

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Further statements on how students and teachers found the Bootcamp:

“It’s been very interesting and very useful. In our lives we will be able to use what we have learnt, as well as in business.” Zulkarnain, Dixons Kings.

“Today had been a very interesting experience. We have leant new skills and will be able to develop our future careers. Introducing us to proma development will really help us in our futures.” Abdurrahim, Dixons Kings

“The InspirEngage Bootcamp was wonderful experience and opportunity for the students. A fun and exciting day that encouraged, not pushed, them out of their comfort zones with brilliant results.” – Winchester Wilmot, Business Teacher at Rivers Academy West London.

“I think that the InspirEngage workshop was very beneficial for me as I have learnt skills that I can use n everyday life as well business skills. For example communication and meeting new people and working with them.” – Kajal Parekh, Dixons Kings

“The InspirEngage  workshop was a great experience and I learnt lots of useful skills that will help me in the future” Ruqayyah, 15, Dixons Kings

“It was very ‘inspiring’ and ‘Engaging’, but there was nothing fishy but the sandwiches.” – Nathan Patel, Dixons Kings Academy

“I learned loads of communication skills that will help me in life” Jack Shircore, 14, Rivers Academy

‘I enjoyed today very much as I learnt valuable skills about communication and roles in a business’ Nathan Gage, Rivers Academy

“I have a had a great and positive experience, met new people and learnt more about business” Darren Clarke, Rivers Academy

 

When people ask us what we do, we say ‘help people to do well by doing good’. Over the past couple of years, we’ve been working with Boston College through our ‘Social Enterprise Revolution’ programme, starting with hosting their first ever social enterprise conference, to delivering several social enterprise Bootcamps and facilitating their social enterprise market day- all with the objective of increasing the number of social enterprises in the community. On 27 April 2016, we delivered a very special Bootcamp.

Back in February, a group of students and community members came together where we helped them develop their skills to and project development tools to take their social enterprise ideas to fruition. With pots of seed-funding up from grabs in partnership with Unltd, the Bootcamp had great outcome with several securing what they needed. At the end of the Bootcamp, I offered the group (mostly consisting of Plumbing students) the opportunity to do a ‘Train the Trainer’ with us in order to co-deliver the next Bootcamp. A few of them signed up.

Fast forward to 27 April, the 4 students spent the morning with Melody, learning the techniques of a trainer, breaking down the modules and practicing delivering it. We encouraged them to push through their comfort zone and to try to lead a session on their own. We rolled up our papers and ran for the afternoon Bootcamp!

The afternoon Bootcamp was for a group of A-level students. We walked in and I asked them why they were there (always important to gauge expectation). Comments like “to learn how to make a difference”, “do something new” and “to learn new skills” were offered. Perfect. We were off! Although the atmosphere was laden with anxiety over the imminent end of year exams, the students pushed through. Their chosen theme for their group social enterprise was chosen by themselves; The social inclusion of the elderly and intergeneration with young people.

Our ‘train the trainer’ Milika delivered the first segment and was professional and enthusiastic and on it went, each doing a great job and pushing through the nerves they felt. This was as much about them, as the Bootcamp participants we were training.

We looked at the community and different aspects of it as relating to their project, we helped them break the project down through an interactive module called PROMA© as well as set them an unexpected creativity social enterprise task! Here’s the interesting thing. Usually, people get participants to pitch to a panel of experts (we’ve sat on our fair share of those!), but I wanted them to pitch to a panel of their peers (the train the trainer students). This had a powerful effect and interesting dynamic on both sides.

The A-level students walked in with a desire to create change and knew their theme- but had no idea of what project they wanted to run or how to do it. Despite it being just a half a day Bootcamp, it’s important to us to support them to feel like they can go to the next stage (wherever they started from). We’re pleased that the A-level students were able to walk out with a solid concept, a name for it and a plan as to what they were going to do next. We won’t ruin the surprise, but it’s an absolutely brilliant idea and we look forward to keeping you updated on what happens next!

As for the Train the Trainer students – one of the participants who put himself forward, at his Bootcamp was extremely shy to say his own name, and yet stood up to co-deliver with us! At the end he said; “I don’t feel shy anymore”

 

For all enquiries about Bootcamps and social enterprise programmes, email: info@inspirEngage.com. Tweet us @inspirEngage / @Melody_Hossaini

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are you the person who when given half an opportunity, you take it and run with it? Or are you the person who shrugs their shoulders and says ‘I can’t be bothered?’ – that’s the difference between success and failure. Success truly starts with a willingness to put in, say yes and show up. Yesterday InspirEngage launched the #SUCCESStour in partnership with NCS giving young people an opportunity to shape their own success. Thank you Hagley Catholic School for hosting the first stop of the tour- it was a pleasure speaking with your students.

This project comes as a continuation of our work with NCS since 2011 in delivering the InspirEngage Bootcamps as part of the Summer programme, training young people to develop the skills to firstly shape a solid social action project, but also on how to turn their social action project into a social enterprise. This way continuing to make a difference whilst also earning an income.

We look forward to the coming stops on the #SUCCESStour- see live developments on twitter: @InspirEngage / @Melody_Hossaini

 

Are you a school who wishes to host the #SUCCESStour for your students? Drop us a line on: info@inspirEngage.com

Are you 15-17 and want to find out more and sign up to NCS? Check out http://www.ncsyes.co.uk

Are you a provider and interested in the InspirEngage Social Enterprise Bootcamps for phase 2 of the Summer programme? Email info@inspirEngage.com

So many people will tell you that you shouldn’t care what people think! I find that such a stupid, unrealistic & irresponsible stance! I am extremely confident in myself- but I care deeply what people think! In fact I’m always fascinated by how people view me. HOWEVER- what people think doesn’t change how I see myself. I know who I am and what I’m not.

So if you’re working towards a state where you don’t care what people think- then change your goal! And those who say they don’t care what people think- are lying!!!! It’s human and it’s ok! But don’t let everyone’s beliefs become your beliefs.

Be happy with who you are. That’s confidence.

 

Need further support to be the best you can be- be more confident and do your talents justice? Book in for a limited slot for 1-2-1 Coaching with me. See more information here or email info@inspirEngage.com with subject ‘Coaching with Melody’

 

 

Today is InspirEngage Intrenational’s 7th birthday. I found myself reflecting on the journey thus far and why we do what we do. I often tell this story as something which puts the work of @inspirengage into perspective for me… it’s about a boy called Ashley…

A few years ago, I was doing a piece of work for Barclays bank on improving financial systems to help the homeless- in partnership with Centrepoint UK. I walk into the room & the young people are shouting, being disrespectful & rowdy. They were there mostly as they were getting a voucher. But very quickly, we had an understanding. I made it clear that I can’t possibly understand what they’re going through, but that this is an opportunity to create change. A change which would help future young people in their situation. I promised to do all I could personally to take it back to Barclays. All of a sudden when we cut the bs, they felt valued. They started putting their hands up to speak & began sharing their incredible stories. I listened & typed as quickly as I could whilst also trying to hold the tears back. They were stories you could barely imagine. These young people had witnessed scenes which a young person should not even see in films- never mind call their life.

There was this one boy- Ashley, who at the start was the most badly behaved. He admitted he goes to lengths he’s ashamed of for a piece of bread. This guy literally had nothing. Desperate. Had no one. His honesty showed his vulnerability and cry for help.

At the end of the session, Ashley came up to me. He said; “you know the community work you mentioned you do- how can I get involved to give back?” That moment changed everything for me. Here’s a guy who doesn’t have bread- has nothing but wants to GIVE BACK. (it still makes me emotional after all these years.)

I put him in touch with local @UKYP (who I was working with at the time) and he got involved in creating change by volunteering. Ashley will never know how much of an impact he made on me. It’s moments like that, which make us do what we do at @inspirEngage.

Thank you to everyone who inspires us- and who shares our mission as a social enterprise, to do well by doing good.

 

Melody Hossaini

Founder, InspirEngage International

 

 

Melody Hossaini speaking to staff at University of Brighton

On Tuesday 22nd March 2016, I was invited to deliver a keynote at the ‘Make it Happen’ conference at University of Brighton. The conference which brought together some 100 staff from all levels at the University, had the aim of advancing women in the workplace and inspiring them as individuals.

This is an area that has formed a large part of the work we have undertaken at InspirEngage International, as well as my speaking tours (see blog on our work at the most influential gathering on women’s issues in the world; The Women’s Forum here). The world is waking up the importance of supporting and engaging women to prosper and to be ambitious enough to want what they deserve. Underlying issues remain around pay gap and lack of representation in certain sectors.

Within my 30 minute presentation, I covered the following components:

  • What the current landscape looks like for gender equality and pipeline for advancement of women
  • Statistical data in the difference in cognitive abilities and ambition traits of men and women
  • Studies on what women have expressed they require for fulfilment and retention in the workplace
  • The changing dynamics in the business world with growth of social enterprise
  • Practical tool on reconnecting participants with their personal purpose and career goals
  • Dialogue with colleagues, sharing insight, challenges and opportunities for change and social impact

It was a great session and I was struck by the depth in thinking on the matter and willingness to practically improve the situation. I urge other educational institutions to engage their teams on this topic. The power lies in addressing unconscious bias, challenging unjust processes that hold women back, encouraging women to become more confident and allowing each person to connect with their personal purpose and connect this to their role.

Testimonials

“Great conference and great presentation. Thank you.” Mairead Stickings, Staff, University of Brighton

“Fascinating talk by Melody” Nicola Ashton, Alumni Engagement Officer, University of Brighton

“Inspiring talk by social entrepreneur @Melody_Hossaini @InspirEngage “what we think we become” “create your own reality” – Penny Simpson, HR Member of Staff, University of Brighton

 

Email info@inspirEngage.com for all enquiries and bookings.

 

 

Panel at JWEF Bahrain

Firstly Happy International Women’s Day 2016 to all the fabulous ladies out there and the men who appreciate them! Every IWD I write a blog about a story or message relating to my work on the advancement of women and this one is a special one about a moment that happened very recently that really shocked me and to those who ask ‘but why do we even need IWD still?’ – this is why!

Last month, I was invited to deliver a range of programmes with InspirEngage International in Bahrain. I’m no stranger to the region and had even previously delivered our Bootcamp in Bahrain. This time I was at the Junior World Entrepreneurship Forum- a gathering franchised across the world with the aim of supporting young people to launch their own businesses. Let me paint the scene. It’s day 2 of the conference, 200 people in the room, mostly young people (university students) but on the left side of the auditorium were 50 or so young boys aged 15/16. I’m on stage on a judging panel of an enterprise competition alongside a director of Intel and a gentlemen from one of the UN agencies. He’s talking about the general enterprise community of Bahrain and at one point he asks almost as a rhetorical question aimed at the young boys; “Would you guys ever work under a woman”. Before he’s finished his sentence, a few of the boys shout determinedly; “NO!”

The gentleman pauses but continues his talk generally. Once he’s finished, it’s time to announce the winner of the enterprise competition – but I can’t let it go. I take the mic and say “it’s my moral obligation to challenge you on what you said, in fact it’s all of our social responsibility” – my aim wasn’t to attack but to understand, so I asked if we could speak about it and why they said they would never work under a woman. One of the braver boys who had been most adamant answers “because men are more responsible” This interested me – so I said, “ok so what about if the woman had earned her way justifiably to the senior position – she was great at it, responsible and deserved it – would you work under her then?” – he still said “NO!”

By this point, the gentleman at my side was whispering in my ear to let it go and that they’re just young. The gentleman from the UN was back on the mic by this point saying that in Islam, prophet Mohammad worked for a woman and that it’s important to remember that, but then said something which deeply troubles me; “it’s women who raise children” so basically, if boys think like that then the mother is to blame. They were keen to move things on – and I didn’t even have a mic – so without a mic I persevered (not shown in video clip): I appreciate that every culture is different, religion is different and yes, places like the UK aren’t perfect in equality of gender either (in fact, we also have a long way to go) and this wasn’t about those specific boys, but about us questioning long-held beliefs that we automatically hold and thinking about the consequences of what our beliefs mean. I made the point that raising children and shaping society is more than just women’s responsibility – we all have a power to influence outcomes, and what point would there be to support the girls in the room to launch a business if half the population wouldn’t work for them- especially when Bahrain has no end of talent and potential, which was evident in our Bootcamps. More importantly – our societies are shaped by what we think, say and do; it wasn’t immediately about those boys but about the message it would give out to accept those views.

As I spoke passionately – I looked around at the faces of the women, wondering if they would step in or had a view on it. But the room was silent.

After the panel - the reaction of girls and boys

Interestingly, afterwards, a notable number of the women came up to me thanking me for speaking up, saying they were horrified too. We had an interesting conversation but I made it clear- “next time you hear something which you think should change and is wrong; in your own respectful way, speak up or you’re part of the problem”. I look up and 2 of the young boys from that group were there too – one said “we just wanted to come up to you and apologise on our friend’s behalf- hope it didn’t offend you.” I replied; “Thank you so much – that’s very mature of you. This isn’t about me and it’s not personal. This is about us provoking thought to create change. Here’s an idea – why don’t you go back to school and suggest to a teacher to have a discussion with the boys about this issue”. That was my bottom line aim in speaking out- not for people to adopt my thinking but to provoke thought and let people question opinions they’d previously held without considering an alternative. That’s how change starts.

We are all part of the solution.

For all enquiries: melody@inspirEngage.com
Tweet/ Ig: @Melody_Hossaini
Web: MelodyHossaini.com
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

InspirEngage Bootcamp on Social Enterprise at JWEF by Melody Hossaini

During the week of 15th February, The InspirEngage team carried out a tour of activities in Bahrain, including Skills Bootcamps at Junior World Entrepreneurship Forum (JWEF), our Business Masterclass for SMEs as well as a stop on the international speaking tour ‘How to Change The World’. It was our second time in Bahrain, having previously delivered the InspirEngage Bootcamp training young professionals from across the MENA region to launch their own social enterprises relating to the environment, in partnership with the British Council. Here’s a breakdown of what we got up to and what we learned.

InspirEngage Skills Bootcamp

InspirEngage Bootcamp Day2

The JWEF brought together hundreds of young aspiring entrepreneurs. On the programme were a range of panels and speakers. But our stance was – magic happens when you take inspiration and turn it into action in that moment when a window of opportunity opens in your mind. This is what the Bootcamp was for. Covering the practical aspects of building an actionable plan from an idea. We delivered the Bootcamp in 2 parts- the first focusing on setting the foundation by training the participants to use our tool called ‘Career Map’ to define their goal, their identity and strengths as well as setting the right mindset for impact. The second part was hands-on and high energy including helping participants to understand social enterprise as well as putting it all in practice with our social enterprise task. They amazed us with their concepts and proved that although at the start, none of them really knew what social enterprise was- by the end of it, so many were aspiring social entrepreneurs- helping people to turn passion into profit.

‘How to Change the World’ – Speaking to Students

As Melody Hossaini’s signature speaking tour – we made a stop at Al Rajaa School in Bahrain to speak to hundreds of excited students! The presentation focuses on provoking thought in students about success and impact as well as share actionable tools and methods for ensuring their individual potential being fulfilled. The students and teachers were blown away by Melody’s interactive style – including having students up to take part in a shock-exercise. The students were eager, energised and stayed around for a long time to ask lots of questions sparked by ideas they had!

Business Masterclass for SMEs

InspirEngage Business Masterclass for SMEs

As part of supporting the growth of the eco-system as a whole in Bahrain, it’s vital to engage SMEs. For this reason, we designed an interactive ‘Business Masterclass’ hosted by Bahrain SMEs Society and the British Council. Participants were taken through a range of exercises to consider their place in the market, their social impact models and how to adopt a mindset shift leading to organisational transformation. What struck us was the fear that exists amongst people to share their ideas for risk of someone stealing their concept and replicating it. We had a fascinating dialogue on this, with us sharing the network models and changing face of business to be much more transparent.

 

Facilitating Panel on Success Stories of Local Entrepreneurs

Success Stories of Local Young Social Entrepreneurs

On day 1 of the Junior World Entrepreneurship Forum, Melody was invited to chair a panel of 4 young entrepreneurs from the region- Wafa Obaidat, Faisal Sherraif, Aysha Al Oraifi and Abdulrazag Al-Mutawa. We started with each panelist giving an overview of who they are and what they do. Melody then prompted them to tell tales of how they went from having an idea all the way to making it a success. Topics of discussion included whether starting when you’re young is a barrier or strength (most of the panelists felt that there young age worked in their favour although a couple of them did mention that sometimes they had to work hard to be taken seriously), the exact step-by-step of how they got started and got their first clients as well as their top tips for success for the aspiring entrepreneurs. Melody fielded questions from young people including from a 13-year-old who wanted to know if he was too young to get started. The panel’s advice – you’re not too young – go for it! Melody had some added words as someone who began in her sector aged 13 also. “Of course you can begin when you’re 13- but like anyone else starting a venture; do your research, speak to people who know that industry and be committed.”

It was a pleasure for us to be back in Bahrain and working to shape a strong eco-system of entrepreneurship – but one which is also socially responsible and allows young people to thrive. We wish all the young people and SMEs the best and look forward to their continued impact!

For all enquiries, email: info@inspirEngage.com

 

The Transition - Essential for Businesses Who Wish to Survive.

 

In a world that is changing in every way – businesses and the way we work, must too. Here are some of the mindset shifts that are essential for organisational transformation and survival.

From Profit to Purpose: Businesses with a strong purpose at the heart of it will benefit far greater than those who simply exist to profit. This is evident in the rise of social enterprises who are now outperforming regular businesses. According to a survey, 38% of social enterprises surveyed saw an increase in their turnover in the last twelve months with 29% of SMEs surveyed by the Department for Business. More than half of social enterprises (56%) developed a new product or service, compared with 43% of SMEs. Two-thirds (63%) of social enterprises expect their turnover to increase in the next two to three years, almost double the number of SMEs (37%). Not only this, but new statistics from the World Economic Forum also show that millennials will only stay in their job and be fulfilled if they feel connected to the purpose of that company. And finally, another reason for a justified move to focus on purpose is, that is what your consumers want! More than ever, we’re voting with our money to buy something with a narrative and caring about where our products come from.

From Hierarchies to Networks: This is where we have probably seen the greatest successes being manifested in companies who can master the model of a shared network over hierarchies. This is seen in Uber, Airbnb and Alibaba who have become some of the most successful startups due to a shared network model.

From Controlling to Empowering: They say that successful people are successful because they work with the best people. How you motivate and build your team defines your level of outcome. Leaders who can empower their network and team succeed over those who control. But it doesn’t stop at the team, but also your position in the market and your customers. Empower them. This connects to the network structure above.

From Planning to Experimentation: There was a time when launching a new product or service took a lot of time, but due to technological advancements, everything we do takes less time and we’re able to experiment more. But not only this, social media allows us to get instant feedback, replacing old extended planning time with getting things out there and improving based on instant but strategic feedback- that way ensuring we’re building products and services based on actual needs rather than presumed needs. And finally, allowing experimentation and ‘failures’ to occur in business is something which is becoming more accepted.

From Privacy to Transparency: We were in Bahrain recently delivering our Business Masterclasses for SMEs, where we saw such a fear of sharing ideas due to risk of someone stealing them. This is a great barrier holding many back from fulfilling the potential of their ideas. We are moving away from a ‘private’ world in so many ways – this is of course evident most greatly in social media and how we ‘share’ so much of our lives, ourselves and our work instantly across so many platforms. We literally ‘share’ things we see and things we are thinking about. The culture is shifting and opening possibilities for people to hear or see something and want to connect relevant people to it- whether through a ‘@mention’ on social media or saying in person ‘Oh sounds great – you should speak to this person or that person’. If we continue to keep things to ourselves out of fear, the only thing we will be left with, will be untapped potential.

 

All of the above and more covered in our Business Masterclass aimed at SMEs and Corporates. The Business Masterclass is tailored to suit each company and includes thought-provoking insight, practical activities and actionable tools to maximise purpose, impact and outcome of teams. Email: info@inspirEngage.com for all enquiries or melody@inspirEngage.com directly. Happy to chat!

 

@melody_hossaini / @inspirEngage.com

Family is good. Yes, we can all agree on that- but is it good to operate with a spirit of family in business? My views on why the Kids Company – a sizeable youth charity in the UK – fell apart.

Camila Batmanghelidjh - Kids Company Founder

Having watched the BBC documentary ‘Camila’s Kids Company- The Inside Story’ the answer is clear in my mind. The spirit of family is good – especially as a long-time youth sector supporter and social entrepreneur, I admire the ethos Camila Batmanghelidjh had, which was to see others as her own. However, in practice, the spirit of ‘family’ needs to be differentiated from the running of a business.

But what do you do when you’re so deep in the sentiment and feeling of giving and too emotionally involved? Well, this is where the big flaw was. The demise of the Kids Company underlined the importance of co-leadership (in whatever role and however structured) of someone who is emotionally tied to the mission and drives it with passion, and someone whose role it is to oversee the running of the business, the figures and finances and importantly accountable governance.

Watching the documentary, Camila reminded me of a bitter ex-wife. The ex-wife who doesn’t feel the new wife as fit enough to run her home and look after her kids. She was simply too emotionally involved to run the business side of things the way it needed to. In a way, I truly admire her strength and drive. She really was a woman on a mission- she had skills and assets which the charity almost couldn’t do without, but she was perhaps in the wrong role, and had she allowed someone in to run the business and instead focused on liaising with the community and ensuring that delivery on the ground was sufficient – the charity would have probably survived.

The thing which made me very uncomfortable was how dependent the service users were. There’s no doubt that Kids Company made a substantial difference to people’s lives. That was clear. However, I don’t think it a mark of success that people cry out your name in need- because that means you haven’t empowered them or helped them develop their skills to survive- you’ve simply empowered yourself to help- a help, they’ll always depend on. A help which without they’d drown. That’s dangerous. At InspirEngage International, we always instil a sense of social and personal responsibility in the individuals we train and work with. Otherwise, we’d be doing a disservice to them.

As a former Chair of The Board of Trustees at UK Youth Parliament, I was always conscious of the legal and financial responsibility I held. Something must also be said for their role in this.

When all is said & done- the demand & need in community is what should be highlighted. There’s work to be done.

Tweet me your thoughts @Melody_Hossaini.

Melody

 

The difference between success & failure is the student who wants to put in & the student who shrugs their shoulders and says ‘I don’t know’. It doesn’t make the second student any less talented who lack potential. They just don’t know why they should bother- and it’s something, sadly, we see too often when we first walk into delivering an InspirEngage Bootcamp.

The moment when they realise WHY they should try- that’s the moment you get to witness what they’re truly capable of. This picture was one of those moments. Delivering an InspirEngage Bootcamp at Harrow College as part of Social Enterprise Revolution- helping the students develop their skills to ensure they’re happy, successful & giving back.

See this in action in this short video capturing some of their journey



Social Enterprise Revolution in the press:
‘UK’s first hands-on social enterprise programme embedded into the curriculum’, What a Mission, Jan 2016 here.

‘Education Secretary Michael Gove visits Harrow College’ and praises Social Enterprise Revolution, This is Local London, Oct 2013 here.

‘Apprentice star Melody Hossaini to coach Solihull business classes’ Birmingham Mail, 4 July 2013 here.

‘Gove on Social Enterprise’ by Melody Hossaini for The Guardian, 28 June 2013 here.

‘Why social enterprise should be at the heart of the BBC’s The Apprentice’, by Melody Hossaini for The Guardian, 5 June 2013 here.

‘Solihull College Become National Pioneers Of Social Enterprise’ September 2013, Business Report here.

‘Solihull College puts social enterprise into curriculum’ – FE News here.

‘Barnet and Southgate College joins the Social Enterprise Revolution’, March 2014 here.

For all Bootcamp enquiries, email info@InspirEngage.com

Muslim women who can’t speak English – that’s been one of the main stories in the press today. The point about people learning to speak English – it’s something I’ve been talking about for a long time. It’s absolutely VITAL that people who settle in a certain country, learn to speak the language of that country. As a former resident and national of Sweden, I know that no one was able to get a Swedish passport unless they passed Swedish language tests.

It’s unacceptable that some have lived here 40 years and can’t put a sentence together- or that some children start primary school at 4 years old, having been born in this country yet don’t speak a word of English! How can you appreciate the culture, contribute meaningfully or integrate? (yes you can pay taxes but that isn’t the only contribution that matters!)

However, having said all that, I don’t like how the news is speaking about the English language barrier, solely as being relevant to MUSLIM WOMEN! It’s not! That has nothing to do with it! It applies to everyone. If we really want to solve the root of this problem – we have to look at the cultural traits of the communities where this issue is prevalent, and understand that in order to solve it.

What are your views of the news bulletins on this issue? Tweet me: @Melody_Hossaini – Facebook here.

My son, Kian

Here’s a snippet of a home video with my son Kian (16 months) having dinner earlier today, that I just had to share with you guys! It’s moments like this that make motherhood truly the very best job in the world!!!


 

 

 
(photo by Everything Between Photography)

On BBC The Apprentice as the first social entrepreneur

Everyone likes their comfort zone! Course they do! It’s where we feel safe, unthreatened and confident! It’s also the place that doesn’t need us to push, to grow or prove anything to anyone. In other words- the place which stays the same. Here’s why staying in your comfort zone for too long, will make it the most uncomfortable place you’ve ever been.

People ask me how I began the work I do in the community and youth sector. When I was 13 years old, I went along to a meeting held in the Birmingham Town Hall about an idea to launch a UK Youth Parliament. That kickstarted my journey. I stayed involved, became one of the co-founding team members and made a big difference to my community on a national and international level. However, it wasn’t as easy as that on a personal level. I had recently moved to the UK – English was my third language, and whilst sitting in those early meetings with MPs in the Houses of Parliament and discussing frameworks, strategies and petitions (none of which I even knew the meaning of entirely), including presenting petitions to Tony Blair in his office at No10, I was so out of my comfort zone. The only thing which kept me returning to those boardrooms in London, was the sheer passion and acute awareness that what we were doing to benefit communities was far more important than my fear.

The other example of course is deciding to go on BBC’s The Apprentice in 2011 as the first ever social entrepreneur. Frightened to death – but there I was, putting myself forward to be Project Manager in week 1. That’s who I am. All in – wanting to grow, to face it head on and yes, sometimes you win, sometimes you get to week 10 out of 12! But I see life as chapters of experience- that have to be lived.

Those years of ‘discomfort’ taught me lessons, far more valuable than anything could have. I grew as a person. I pushed myself and learned to control and face situations which may not be my ideal scenarios – because trust me, regardless of how comfortable you try to keep yourself, those moments creep up in life.

Now here’s the thing. What happens if we never grow- what if we don’t even want to go outside of our comfort zone – we’re cool staying where we are. Well, life is kind of funny that way. It will evolve without you. Reminders here and there showing you what you could have been and could have achieved or experienced, but didn’t. Or, a glimpse into opportunities missed, or simply feeling fed up and unfulfilled after years of standing still. Believe me- that will feel the most uncomfortable place you’ve ever been.

So what can you do? Start with moments. Next time you feel a bit uncomfortable & nervous about something, could be someone asking you to go somewhere new perhaps- say yes. Try it. Reflect on what you learned. See, it wasn’t so bad! From there, go to bigger things. Maybe a career change- something you never thought you could do- try it out by volunteering for a couple of weekends (if appropriate), think about it and make a plan whatever it is!

Make a change! Grow. Don’t live the same year 80 times and call it life. Live it and make the most of the vast potential you hold.
Love to hear your thoughts- tweet/instagram me: @Melody_Hossaini

For all speaking enquiries, email: info@inspirEngage.com

 

Last week, as all the world leaders of the Commonwealth nations gathered in Malta- so did young people. InspirEngage International Young Ambassador, Pras Boolaky was one of them. Here’s the fascinating blog about what happened.

Delegates of the Commonwealth Youth Gathering- CHOGM Malta 2015

Hello everyone! This is Pras Boolaky- one of the InspirEngage Young Ambassadors. Last week, I was invited to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Malta as a young delegate from the UK and on behalf of InspirEngage. It was InspirEngage’s second time at CHOGM, our Founder Melody has previously spoken and delivered a Bootcamp at CHOGM 2009 training young people to mobilise change in their respective communities.

HRH Queen of England speaking at CHOGM 2015

This forum brings together ministers, dignitaries, and this year, Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II. It aims to tackle some of the biggest issues facing the Commonwealth today. The Commonwealth Youth Forum (CYF) ran just before the Heads of Government meeting and gave young people a platform to discuss issues relevant to them, feeding directly into the CHOGM agenda.

60% of the Commonwealth is made up of young people, and the 2015 Commonwealth theme was fittingly “A Young Commonwealth”. Young people of the Commonwealth make up 1.2 billion people, and as we heard from opening speeches from the Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma, and Prime Minister of Malta, Joseph Muscat: This brings with it big opportunities as well as big challenges. So how do young people from 53 countries, with different levels of economic growth, political stability and social cohesion, deliver a united voice at CHOGM 2015?

Networks & Changemakers

Well the answer to that I found was building networks and meeting changemakers. I met inspirational people like Victor Ochen from Uganda, founder of the African Youth Initiative Network and Pakistani human rights activist Gulalai Ismail (she even has her own Wikipedia page!). I could name countless other brilliant minds I met, all fighting for causes they care deeply about, but this blog would probably never end if I did! However, what I realised was even though we’re from very different backgrounds, we share the same mission and values. At InspirEngage, Melody always encourages us with the motto #DoingWellByDoingGood and this statement couldn’t be more epitomised at CYF. Whether it’s disaster-risk reduction, access to quality education, or gender based violence, youth across the Commonwealth are more committed than ever before speak out and be involved in policy making.

Young people drawing up recommendations to leaders

Our role, our mission

It was refreshing to see the issues InspirEngage are passionate about high on CYF the agenda. Social enterprise, albeit not fully developed in some emerging market countries, is something young people realise is a tool to empower their generation and generations after them. There was a willingness shown by many who want to introduce social enterprise into formal and non-formal education, which backs our belief that social enterprise IS the business model of the future. Caribbean countries especially spoke about the need for skills based Bootcamps to create socially responsible citizens. It’s promising to see these young commonwealth leaders already building their future careers and lifestyles on this model.

InspirEngage Young Ambassador presenting policy recommendations on how to provide young people with sustainable employment

It was evident that women and girls’ issues were a few steps ahead, with the launch of the inaugural Womens Forum at CHOGM 2015. The Commonwealth Youth Gender and Equality Network (CYGEN) took place 6 months before CHOGM, and brought together young professionals and experts in a learning environment through workshops and training sessions.

With four streams running alongside each other, I sat in on discussions including “Re-examining Pathways to Sustainable Employment” and “Investing in Youth Entrepreneurship for Sustainable Growth”. I was honoured to take part in a debate with delegates from Australia and Guyana, chaired by the UK charity Elevation Networks. Here I pushed for more of the correct type of funding and mentorship for young people with business ideas, to create responsible business leaders, a theme InspirEngage promotes through social enterprise Bootcamps.

Lessons learned

The Commonwealth Youth Council (CYC) elections ran alongside the CYF, and for some (notably the candidates nominated) this was very exciting time. An opportunity to serve on a council for 2 years where you would be the voice of 1.2 billion youths, created an intense air of suspense leading up to the election announcement. I was happy to see an almost equal 50/50 gender split for elected members, and proud the Commonwealth had recognised the importance of having a special groups representative also. We wish all the elected members the best of luck with their term in office.

The biggest lessons learnt was from all the conversations, debates, ideas, and exchanges I had with my fellow youth peers. It’s easy for people to think the worst of young people, especially in the UK where the media has on occasion been quick to attack us as perpetrators of crime and unlawful activity. But on the rare occasion where your sat in a conference room in Malta, surrounded by 200 young activists, policy makers, and entrepreneurs, you realise just how bright the future of our Commonwealth is.

Pras Boolaky – InspirEngage Youth Ambassador

Tweet: @inspirEngage

 

This must be the top issue raised by young people. Sorry, but if you graduate or even finish school and have zero experience, then what were you doing in your most time-rich period? You can get involved in so many fun things, meet amazing people as well as clock up years of experience.

A lot of employers are now telling us that they are rating experience on par with qualifications, if not higher. I started in the youth and community sector at the age of 13. Now at the age of 31, I have 18 years experience in my sector. Aside from the experience, volunteering allows you to also make a difference in your community. And what you do out of pure choice- for free, says a lot about you. #DoingWellByDoingGood

 

Watch Melody’s Top 10 First Job Vlog (in partnership with the Department for Work & Pensions).

 

For all speaking enquiries, email: info@inspirEngage.com