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Brandwatch: Matching business needs to the world’s needs with Giles Palmer

Today’s guest on The Melting Pot is Giles Palmer, founder and CEO of Brandwatch, a company devised to help organisations find and engage with online conversations that matter; a digital consumer intelligence company. 

Brandwatch exists to help brands primarily, but also agencies understand their modern consumers—who they are, how they behave, their preferences, what they’re sharing and what they’re saying—so that the company can make better decisions about what they make and how they bring that product to market.

On today’s podcast:

  • Why Brandwatch measures the impact of influencing, without being an influencer itself
  • The different interpretations of fake news
  • How big data allows companies to make better decisions
  • Coffee trends come out of San Francisco
  • Dealing with a gender pay gap
  • The issues with merging two rival companies

Growing a business and dealing with the gender pay gap

Today’s guest on The Melting Pot is Giles Palmer, founder and CEO of Brandwatch, a company devised to help organisations find and engage with online conversations that matter; a digital consumer intelligence company. 

Giles talks to us about so many different aspects of working at Brandwatch, but one that stood out head and shoulders above the rest was his experiences of having to handle the gender pay gap. 

By his own admission, Giles handled it badly—Captain Hindsight has since provided numerous examples of ways he could have gone about dealing with the situation a whole lot better than he did. 

His reflections of how he handled the gender pay gap revelation at Brandwatch is something we can all learn from. 

The gender pay gap

The gender pay gap at Brandwatch was 22%, but Giles didn’t realise it was so large when the results were published on the Government’s website. On the day the results were revealed, a conversation started in one of Brandwatch’s Slack channels about the high gender pay gap and he waded into the discussion without doing any analysis of the data, and without understanding the situation. 

Since then, he’s made a commitment to get the gap to 0% within 5 years—that is no easy task. 

Closing the gender pay gap

The challenge Giles has found is that the higher you go up in a company, the less represented women have been, and to a degree still are. And the higher-up people tend to get paid more, which means that whilst it’s not that a company may pay different amounts for people doing the same job, which is illegal, it’s that there is a large disparity in the percentage of the sexes doing the roles that is contributing to the skewed gender pay gap data. 

So it’s not just about closing the gender pay gap, it’s about encouraging and hiring more women into a company that has predominantly been a male environment, in order to balance out the sexes of the employees and even out the gender pay gap. 

The different proportions of men to women

At the lower levels, the proportion of men to women in Giles’ company is 50:50. But as you go further up, the proportion of women declines. That has become a huge focus for them. Why is it that there are fewer women at senior lead levels in a software company? Obviously, women take time out to have families, but that doesn’t explain the huge gap in numbers between men and women. 

What can companies do to support a more balanced workforce? For example, a woman will take 5 years out to have children and by the time she comes back, the men that were her contemporaries have zoomed ahead, and she is left behind. Can companies make the choice to have a more balanced parenting scenario so that women can go back to work part time? Or share jobs? Because women leak from companies the further up the hierarchy you go.

Bring women in

One of the biggest changes Brandwatch made was to bring in more women to expand the teams and balance them, and it changed the dynamic in the leadership team for the better, dramatically, instantaneously. 

Giles spoke to a woman recently about only having women on the shortlist when recruiting to even out the numbers for key roles. And the woman called him out on it, saying that was counterproductive in itself because women then weren’t competing fairly with the men. 

But Giles’ response was: “where the team isn’t balanced, I want to get it balanced… Even if we don’t have the very best candidate, even if there’s some guy out there who’s better than all of the women on the shortlist. I don’t care, I’m optimising for the team, not the individual.”

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