RACISM & INCLUSION IN MOTHERHOOD & WORK
Jennifer Singh is a former TV reporter turned PR strategist and media coach who specializes in storytelling, public relations, and marketing. Jennifer launched She’s Newsworthy Media to help female entrepreneurs and business owners increase media attention for their brands by pitching their expertise to the media. So far, she’s helped over 35 women land media spots on all of the most popular TV shows (The Social, CP24 Breakfast, and Breakfast TV just to name a few!). She is also mom to two little boys Dominick and Marcus ages 5 and 2.
In this episode:
- Layers of challenges with racism and inclusion in motherhood and work can be invisible and aren’t a part of our conversations and discourse.
- Open dialogue about racism, anti-racism, discrimination, and inclusion in our work and with our families is needed.
- Ongoing action for inclusivity and anti-racism in all aspects of business and the workplace including marketing is essential.
- Share your expertise & story. The media is looking for fresh perspectives and voices to bring a unique angle to what’s happening in our world.
Connect with Jennifer:
- Get a FREE Media Pitch Template that you can download
- Find out more about “Media Success Coaching” – Jennifer’s most successful program that includes one-on-one time
- 20 people in that program have landed media spots so far!
On this episode of The Part-Time Jungle Podcast, I had an amazing conversation with Jennifer about racism and inclusion in motherhood and work. Jennifer shared her story with the layers of challenges in motherhood and work as a woman of colour. She discussed the need for open dialogue about racism, anti-racism, discrimination, and inclusion in our work and with our families and how ongoing action for inclusivity and anti-racism in all aspects of business and the workplace including marketing is essential. Jennifer also talked about helping her clients share their expertise and stories because the media is looking for fresh perspectives and voices to bring a unique angle to what’s happening in our world.
If you prefer to listen, check out Episode 13 of The Part-Time Jungle Podcast.
I am so appreciative to Jennifer for having this conversation with me about racism and inclusion in motherhood and work. The three values that she lives and works by are authenticity, transparency, and empowerment and these definitely came through in our dialogue.
JENNIFER’S MOTHERHOOD & WORK JOURNEY:
Starting in 2010, Jennifer had a position working in a secure job with benefits, being paid by the government, where she was providing transit updates on a TV station. Jennifer and her husband were trying to get pregnant for 3 years and shortly after becoming pregnant, she was laid off from this position. The timing ended up working out well though as Jennifer used this time as an opportunity to transition into being an entrepreneur. She built her website and got business photographs taken. Because she had suffered a recent miscarriage, she also suffered from anxiety during this pregnany so being at home prior to the birth of her first baby in 2015, was the best thing that she could have done. Ultimately, this led to Jennifer launching her business, She’s Newsworthy Media, five years ago.
LOTS TO LEARN
Jennifer had no business expertise when she got started. She was literally starting from scratch. After having her second son, three years after her first, she fully committed to entrepreneurship, hired a business coach, and didn’t look back. Giving birth to two children and starting a business in three years, was A LOT to take in in a short amount of time.
Jennifer talks about how the COVID pandemic feels like how she felt starting her business with her two kids at home with her. The challenge of that juggle was not something that she felt others could understand or relate to at that time. Most moms that she knew had childcare or kids in school. Watching the kids all day was physically and mentally draining for Jennifer. However, she is an idea generator and her mind does not stop turning when it comes to her business and how it can grow. She found that her business was a welcome escape from child rearing.
THE CHALLENGE OF GETTING WORK DONE
Jennifer found that taking advantage of times to leave the house to get work done helped her a great deal. When you are home with your kids, it can be hard to go into another room to be productive with work tasks. Jennifer shared that she has two velcro babies! You feel the mom guilt when you are doing work at home. In Jennifer’s case, this was working in her office which is located in her bedroom. During this time, she was still taking on clients and they were still landing media interviews. Jennifer’s two kids have only recently been out of the home while she was working. This was for a 6 month stretch leading up to things shutting down with the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the early days of Jennifer’s business, her business coach had suggested that she send her kids to her neighbours or that she have someone come to her home to look after her kids. Jennifer is from the West Indies and this is not culturally acceptable. She would never have a stranger come into her house to look after her kids. Additionally, it is something that someone who is White wouldn’t understand or think about. For Jennifer, this was another layer which came with extra guilt, pressure, and stress.
Currently we are in the midst of the Black Lives Matter Movement, but in general, conversation and discourse around this isn’t acceptable. There are many different layers, with regards to racism and inclusion in motherhood and work, to think about when we think of women in business. When it comes to race and privilege, these things are pretty much invisible to the rest of the world.
SUPPORTING CHANGE & ANTI-RACISM:
Racism is an issue around the world including here in Canada. As with many others, my family and I are wanting to listen, to learn, and to do better. I asked Jennifer about her thoughts on what we can do to support change and anti-racism through our conversations and actions in our families, communities, and work.
Jennifer speaks from her lived experiences and not as an anti-racism expert. She has faced discrimination in the medical system, the school system, and in the hospital when giving birth. There are so many instances that she can think of. This also transitioned into incidents of microaggressions, suggestions and comments, in the business world.
Leaders need to be listening and learning, and they need to take ownership for their actions including their mistakes. We need to approach this as we approached the explosion of sexual harassment cases we heard about in the news last year with the “Me Too” Movement. Most people watching this believed the victim. Jennifer asks when it comes to racism, why are we not believing the victim? Why do we need to have video or text message evidence? Even when it is out there, why do we still need to have discussions about whether it was racist or not? This is what Jennifer sees playing out on social media and in the media.
It’s about listening and questioning your assumptions, your thoughts and the way that you approach things with regards to racism and inclusion in motherhood and work. Yes – this sounds like a lot of work. I can say this. I can’t say this. What if I make a mistake? Jennifer points out that when you think about all these, it ends up centering the discussion around yourself and not really focusing on the bigger issue in society.
CONVERSATIONS AT HOME
Jennifer talks about the importance of having conversations about racism and anti-racism at home. One of the hardest things is that when we hear people in our families making racist comments or doing things that seem racist, we need to actually speak up. This has to happen even though we don’t want to create friction in our family homes.
We also need to speak to our children. Yes, they can learn about this at school but what are they learning from you at home? How are you going to normalize this conversation? We have to do this in every aspect of our lives, in our business circles and when we talk to our children. We must get into the habit of being uncomfortable when it comes to speaking up and saying something.
CONNECTING TO OUR CHILDREN’S LIVED EXPERIENCES
I shared with Jennifer what I have been trying to do to be more intentional with my conversations with our children about racism and anti-racism and I loved that she challenged me to do more. Jennifer shared some ideas that connect in a meaningful way to children’s lived experiences.
For example, there are small but meaningful conversations that we can have with our children everyday. Talk about the diversity in advertisements that you see and in your childrens’ classrooms. Look at the characters or people in the programs that they watch and how they are portrayed. For example, Jennifer talked about the television program Paw Patrol. The mayor in the show is a woman of colour but she is always represented as being frantic about silly things and needing to be rescued. Media is such an easy way to incorporate the way kids think about the world, themselves, and who they are.
You can also talk about the toys and dolls your children play with. You can discuss how only recently crayons are now representative of different skin colours. If your child falls down and scrapes their knee, they might need a bandaid. You can ask them if they know that BAND-AID only released bandages in different skin colours in June of this year (2020)? Previously, they only came in the colour of white skin and not anybody else’s skin colour. Ask them to think about how that makes people feel?
INCLUSIVE BUSINESS & MARKETING
Why you need to be more inclusive is not simply because of what is happening in the discourse today. Even if you are saying that you don’t feel that you have a moral obligation to make changes, it can ultimately impact a company’s bottom line. You need to think about a broader perspective and make it a business decision to incorporate this into your strategy in the long run.
If you do want to be more inclusive in marketing across the board, Jennifer talks about how you should do it in tandem with the other work that you are doing inside your business or workplace. This includes the small decisions you are making when no one is watching and the things that you question. For example, if you are asked to be a guest on a panel or on a podcast, take some time before saying yes and getting promotion for your business. Ask yourself whether it is a fit for you in terms of your values and if it is in line with your or your company’s brand? As well, you should ask and look into who else has been on that podcast and who else has been on that speaking stage?
Jennifer discusses how many people are nervous about speaking up on social media. They say that they are listening but without saying anything and staying silent, that in itself says a lot which is a message of in-action. If you are in the process of navigating and you don’t know what to do, that is ok. Jennifer suggests putting out a social media post, writing a newsletter, reaching out to your community, and letting them know about the things that you are thinking about. This is better than just doing what everyone else is doing. As well, when you do come up with a solution it doesn’t seem like you are just popping up out of nowhere, which comes across as tokenism. You have to think about your brand as a whole and not just in the bubble of Black Lives Matter.
IT IS UNCOMFORTABLE, IT IS IMPORTANT
Jennifer talks about how many people are using the ‘I’m listening’ reason to not put themselves out there because they are scared. If you think that this is scary, imagine being Black, Indigenous, or a person of colour and being worried about being shot by the police. THAT is a legitimate fear. When we are scared about marketing, what we are actually scared about is our bottom line. We don’t want to mess up. We don’t want to lose business. Jennifer has found that speaking out has put her in a really interesting position. She has cut business ties with several people since this discourse has opened up. A friend of hers noted that you assume that everybody is on the same page as you but they aren’t.
Jennifer talks about making sure that we are doing tangible things inside our businesses and workplaces from here on forward. This is really tough for some people to accept. It is uncomfortable. Don’t let that take your brain over. You CAN continue to make small changes every day and every month until the end of time. People are always going to challenge your business and your values. Jennifer decided that she was only going to work with women, for example, and people told her that she was going to fail and that she was not going to get enough business. They were wrong. If you are strong in your core beliefs and in how you want to move forward, you will stay true to your brand values and personal values. Sure people are going to make comments but is that going to bring you down?
SHARING YOUR STORY
Through her business She’s Newsworthy, Jennifer has had great success in helping female entrepreneurs and business owners increase media attention for their brands. She shared some great tips in our discussion.
MEDIA NEWS CYCLE
When you are pitching yourself to the media, whether you are in a pandemic or not, Jennifer says that you always want to connect your story ideas to the media’s news cycle. For example, a sleep consultant might talk about establishing healthy sleep habits as part of your New Year’s resolutions, spring time changes, or summer bedtime routines when school is out.
NEWS OF THE DAY
Tap into the news of the day in terms of the conversations that are happening. For example, this might be a new study, new statistics, or a new report. You really need to try to anchor yourself and position yourself. For example, sleep consultants could talk about how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected sleep.
Identify what makes your business unique. This is where Jennifer starts when working with clients. She helps them to figure out what is different in their position compared with others in the same industry. You will alway have competition. The media is looking for a fresh perspective and a fresh voice. Jennifer only works with women because they are underrepresented in the media. Her clients have been successful, in part, because the stories they are pitching have never been pitched before, their angles weren’t there, and their faces weren’t there. The more unique you can be in business the more successful you can be. It’s the same in the media.
THE IMPORTANCE OF FAMILY:
YOUR SUPPORT SYSTEM
For Jennifer having a strong partnership with her husband has been incredibly important in her motherhood/work juggle. Along with this, is keeping the lines of communication open.
Jennifer talks about the importance of carving out time for your family and not forgetting that this is why we are doing all that we do. We want to serve, we want our independence, we want to use our brains but… we need to make sure that we are carving out quality time for our children. I love that Jennifer shared that this is something that she continues to work on.
Thanks so much to Jennifer for this important conversation and thank YOU for tuning in!