Recently, I attended Anthropy – positioned as gathering of likeminded leading with a passion for making Britain better – for people and planet.
Rather than sitting in a stuffy conference centre in London, the three-day conference was held at The Eden Project; many of the sessions running within the rainforest and Mediterranean biomes – with the sights and sounds of nature all around.
- 3 immersive days
- 230 sessions – see the full agenda
- 500+ speakers
- 1500 delegates – see full list of company in attendance
- CEOs from Ella’s Kitchen, Neal’s Yard, John Lewis, and Ampa
- TV personalities such as Jay Blades (The Repair Shop), Mariella Frostrup and Darcy Bussel
- Representatives from Government, public sector, and media
- Emerging young leaders
Why did I attend? The event was a financial investment and time intensive. It took me out of the office for a week – with travel to and from Cornwall. However, our B Corporation certification has made me and the Brevity team think more deeply about our impact on society and how we can contribute to the greater good. We don’t want to be a tick-box B Corp, we want to continue to get better, challenge the status-quo and inspire others to do the same. Immersing myself for a few days with people who have the same agenda would be highly beneficial.
Anthropy Takeaway – embracing youth in business
My biggest takeaway from the event was that society needs to embrace young people; not keeping saying “young people are the future”. They are the here and now – and they have a lot to give in the present day. To be honest this was not what I thought my key takeaway would be at all and it has forced a big (but positive) mindset shift for me.
Over the last 10 years, we have welcomed young people into the Brevity team. Our biggest successes being:
- Courtney was our first work experience person and they joined us for a few weeks when I first started Brevity. Courtney had a passion for copywriting and now works as a copywriter for the University of Southampton.
- Lilly has been with Brevity for over seven years and joined fresh out of university after completing her Master’s in Marketing. Coming from a family of entrepreneurs, Lilly wanted to start her own freelance marketing business and have accounts outside of Brevity. Brevity fully supported her decision and retained her three days per week. She now has a successful agency, still providing weekly support for Brevity.
- Kes joined our organisation seven years ago whilst he was still at secondary school. Working after school a couple of times a week, he started off supporting myself with accounts admin (he thought he wanted to be an accountant but quickly decided against) but swiftly progressed to helping Brevity develop dashboard reports using advanced Excel macros which integrated with our project management system. Achieving top grades at A-Level, Kes is now at university studying a degree in Maths and Computer Science and says that the opportunity to work on a variety of technical projects has very much advanced his learning capabilities. He still works with Brevity and has developed a new automated monthly client reports solution using Python and API integrations with a variety of different systems.
What surprised me at Anthropy was that instead of me focusing on these amazing successes of working with young people and the value they had brought to Brevity; I was fixed on the negative experiences I’d had with other young people. From turning up later (or not at all) through to lacklustre work and missing passion. So much so that I didn’t want to welcome young people into the team and certainly not get involved with work experience or apprenticeships.
What I was doing was labelling and stereotyping – and falling foul of ageism. We need to assess individuals on their own merit, not judge on what we believe their capabilities may be due to their age, education, status, gender or disability.
How attending events in creative spaces can challenge your thinking
Anthopy has therefore challenged my thinking and inspired me to embrace the value of younger people. Whilst subsequently exhibiting at ExCel, I spent more of my time engaging with young people on the stand – and enjoyed it. Many of the local colleges allowed their students to visit The Great British Business show and I spoke with them about their aspirations for their future as well as their opinions around sustainability.
We were also visited (ironically) by a young person I recognised from Anthropy, and we’ve now had a conversation since the exhibition, with more meetings planned, about how he can excel himself as an emerging leader and grow his business idea.
The value of youth boards
A big outcome from Anthropy is that I am exploring the establishment of youth boards for SMES, which is as it sounds – just a board which comprises young people only. Some larger organisations with big teams of young people have these in place already, but SMEs could struggle to develop, hence why I’d like to see how I could make this work for all shapes and sizes of businesses.
It was Mark Cuddigan, former CEO of Ella’s Kitchen, who spoke about Youth Boards; he said this was one of the big takeaways from Anthropy ’22.
It’s now evident to me that young people have more to offer than we give them credit for – so having access to a youth board businesses big and small can benefit GenZ’s ideas and strategies for growth and prosperity.