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Insights about Social justice

Stepping forward as Living Wage Leaders; let’s create change

Originally published by the Living Wage Foundation This week, nearly 7000 employers are celebrating their role as accredited Living Wage Employers and we are one of them. It is right to be proud – we know we are making a life changing difference to over 250,000 people on the low wages. But is it enough? ... more

Racism – it isn’t us and them, it’s us

I don’t feel very powerful most days. But I’m cloaked in power, as are the other senior leaders at Forster. Those levels of privilege may vary, a private education here, the male chromosome there, but there is one area that is entirely consistent – we are all white. ... more

Tackling isolation through digital innovation

Last week brought to a close, a 10 month project which we have been working closely with our client Nesta Challenges and Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) on, to launch the Tech to Connect Challenge – an England-wide competition to scale tech-based solutions to reduce social isolation. Tech can be alienating or ... more

Where’s the action on International Women’s Day?

It’s International Women’s Day. Which means a lot of things are all happening at once. We’re celebrating the truly amazing achievements of women around the world. We’re also calling for equality of opportunity and recognition. Richard Herring is no doubt spending the day on Twitter reminding disgruntled users that, yes, there is an International Men’s ... more

Three Weddings and a Dress

It started with someone borrowing trousers for fancy dress, then something for a wedding, a graduation and so on. We now swap Winter coats for whole seasons and lend each other entire holiday wardrobes. At Forster, our ever-increasing understanding of the environmental and human cost of fast fashion meant that many of us no longer ... more

Fashion, fashion, fashion.

I cannot deny the joy I get from a retail fix. Unfortunately for my bank balance doesn’t feel the same. At fifteen, I self-identified as a shopaholic. I was always lining up outside East London charity shops or trotting around South London looking for the latest vintage pieces for the outfits that I had already ... more

Where we are, where we want to be

Where we are, where we want to be Forster has been living and breathing sustainability issues for our entire existence and central to that is our commitment that we always walk the talk. Even before we became a founding UK B Corp, we were committed to being transparent about our impact – good and bad ... more

Movements – the Holy Grail for social change or the voluntary sector’s magic unicorn?

I was recently asked to come and do a short talk about movements at a civil society event, partly because I’ve worked on a few recently for charities and businesses, and partly because Forster has a long history of developing and promoting movements for social change. The first thing I do before giving a talk ... more

29 July 2019
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Turning sustainability cynics into storytellers

Your business purpose is clear and you have a strong social change ambition – but now it needs to become a reality.  How can you find the tipping point where ownership shifts from a few individuals to a company-wide culture that is hardwired into decision making and behaviours? Typically, employees will be segmented according to ... more

Could the future of high streets help drive a more sustainable economy?

In high street stores only a short hop from home I can mend my own jeans, screen print a T-shirt, fix a flat tyre or even build a whole bike from scratch – all at thriving independent businesses. Last weekend, I spent a good 3 hours tinkering with my bike whilst a patient London Bike ... more

28 January 2019
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Will the new code crack it?

This week, the Wates Principles were published as new guidance for large private companies, reiterating the need for them to behave in a way that benefits society as well as the economy, building trust and confidence among all stakeholders. It is an important moment, recognising the impact of the private business sector, and sits alongside ... more

Time for charities to show their workings

Scandal – if it were a commodity that could be traded, some investors would have become seriously rich this year as we have been drowning in the stuff. It is hard to think of a sector that hasn’t been hit by scandal in 2018 and sadly that includes civil society. The Oxfam abuse scandal put ... more

12 December 2018
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Person centred social care – is it too much to ask?

You could hear a pin drop as the all too familiar stories were told. One from a council worker who is trying to provide assistance to an elderly couple in their home. His physical condition is deteriorating, but the only person whom his wife – managing some mental health issues of her own – trusts ... more

16 November 2018
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Adapting communications to changing lives

Earlier this month saw the publication of the government’s loneliness strategy and there is much to applaud in it. Firstly, it is great to even have a strategy for such a critical public health issue, and secondly, it is fantastic to see businesses such as Royal Mail playing an active role in tackling it. It’s ... more

26 October 2018
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Social media: more than just chatter

Love it or hate it, social media is an integral part of any campaign or news release. With entire teams dedicated to creating content, it can sometimes feel that your social media output is all that matters. But, when used correctly, social media is an incredibly powerful tool for insights. Recently Vice launched Recognise Me ... more

19 October 2018
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Employers need to prioritise flexibility

We have produced a diverse range of toolkits for employers recently, on behalf of Public Health England and Business in the Community, the most recent being one on domestic abuse which launched this summer. The issues we’ve covered are very different, but there is a common thread that runs through them all – the importance ... more

21 September 2018
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Five ways to tackle racial discrimination within recruitment and in the workplace

Over the past two decades, educational attainment and employment has risen across Britain, especially amongst ethnic minority groups. The proportion of black men getting a degree has increased by 24%, compared to 15% for white men. [1] So, why is it that black male graduates are earning hourly on average 17% less than their white male ... more

22 August 2018
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We need safe spaces to challenge the status quo

Every year the UN celebrates International Youth Day, and this year the theme is Safe Spaces. A ‘safe space’ is not a tangible or physical location, more a descriptor of a culture in which people can share their experiences without judgement, in an environment where they can exist free from violence, harassment, or hate speech. ... more

Delivering the Sustainable Development Goals is everyone’s business but how do you convince everyone else of that?

This week Measuring Up, the first comprehensive assessment of the UK’s performance against the SDGs, was released. It makes for tough reading. The UK is performing well on only a quarter of all the goals, and the profound problems of poverty and malnutrition are on the rise. This matters for every business in the UK ... more

You are not alone

How do you solve really big problems? The answer never changes but always bares repeating – by working together. There is of course something very romantic about a lone visionary labouring away in a lab / garage / garden shed to conjure up game-changing inventions, innovations and insights, but the reality is far more likely ... more

How are we helping get more underrepresented groups into employment?

Advances in technology and the economic case for getting more underrepresented groups into employment highlight the need to support and deliver better services and resources for learners and job seekers. This Employability Day #EmpDay18 we’re celebrating businesses actively making a difference, improving society and changing lives in this area. Working with Young Women’s Trust, we ... more

28 June 2018
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How can we ensure the PR industry is more diverse?

13% of the UK population is black, Asian, mixed or other ethnic group – we are a pretty diverse society but that isn’t reflected in the PR industry, as it is in so many other aspects of British life. Does it matter? If you believe that drawing talent from the widest pool possible and that ... more

31 May 2018
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Effing up but owning up

In light of the recent Oxfam scandal, brands and charities must take a closer look at their history – especially the areas they’d prefer to forget. Every big brand will have a skeleton or two in their closet. It’s practically unavoidable in multi-national large scale companies; especially in the case of charities. For every amount ... more

8 May 2018
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We must share our stories to challenge the status quo

International Women’s Day is the day of the year that women celebrate each other’s strengths and empower each other in the next step for gender equality. It’s the day where we herald the heroic, shout out for those that are making changes and give a hand of support to those that are in need. Being ... more

8 March 2018
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What are you waiting for?

What if all companies were forthcoming and honest about their mistakes or successes? With the deadline for gender pay gap reporting only a blink away, and a call from the government for employers to publish their ethnicity pay gap, transparency is no longer optional. And whilst some organisations are still not convinced that the new ... more

8 March 2018
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Think Global, Act Local

PR agencies spend a lot of time talking about living their values, for themselves and their clients. It is an important thing to do in an industry that gets shaken by scandals like Bell Pottinger every few years, where companies have forgotten that this mantra needs to be practised and not just preached. It was ... more

Can money really ever be good?

The fact you are more likely to divorce your spouse than change bank accounts is so well cited that it’s a cliché. There are, obviously, a thousand reasons why this is the case. But, one of them certainly seems to be apathy. Or at least a feeling that not much would change by changing the ... more

Shared parental leave: the ultimate balancing act?

When I first announced I was pregnant to friends and family, one of the first questions many asked was ‘how long are you taking off work?’ Maybe this is because I’ve consistently and vocally made a virtue of enjoying my work. Maybe it’s because I’ve worked hard to achieve a relatively well-paid and responsible role, ... more

20 December 2017
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The link between money sense and number sense is too easy to ignore

Wendy Jones, a trustee at our client, National Numeracy, outlines why numeracy is such an important issue when to comes to tackling debt and financial exclusion, and calls on financial service providers to take a lead on helping current and prospective clients improve their numeracy. The other week I rang my bank to open a ... more

20 December 2017
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Poverty …Time for a rebrand?

Are we too posh to talk about poverty? It would seem so, judging by the latest report from the venerable Joseph Rowntree Foundation. ... more

5 December 2017
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Gen Up on Gen Z

Generation Z is sometimes referred to as the iGeneration. Born in the late 90s and through the 2000s they’re a diverse group of people who’ve never known life without the internet – they are digital natives. Gen Z are a key audience to instigating mass social change; 66% of teachers think current 14-17 year olds ... more

8 November 2017
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Bringing diversity and inclusion into the heart of a business

Diversity and inclusion is increasingly recognised as being vital to business success because the benefits of inclusion and diversity are clear. A range of backgrounds, faiths, genders and ethnicities bring new ideas, innovation and practices that can vastly improve operations. There are countless reports and studies which show the impact increasing diversity can have on ... more

28 September 2017
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Should you believe everything you read?

There is a timely quote from the film, “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.” “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” The film was made in 1962 and set much further back in the American Wild West, which shows that fake news and sensationalism aren’t new concepts. However, both have probably never been as ... more

28 September 2017

When the Drugs Don’t Work

As someone who has enjoyed summer music festivals for almost ten years, being around people using something other than alcohol to keep them partying is par for the course. About one in 20 people age 16 to 24 have taken ecstasy – a common festival drug – in the last 12 months, ONS figures suggest. ... more

24 August 2017
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Communication needs to be free from assumptions and biases

The Social Market Foundation estimates that raising disability employment to the national average would boost the UK economy by at least £13 billion. On average, disabled employees are just as productive as non-disabled people, have significantly less time off, fewer workplace accidents, and stay in their jobs longer. They have inside intelligence on the “purple ... more

24 August 2017
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Aim High

Beyond compliance – this is not a phrase to stir the soul, but encapsulated in those innocuous words is the difference between a responsible business and a progressive one. We should rightly celebrate some hard won legislation that compels organisations to improve their performance, such as recent ones on Gender Pay Gap Reporting and National ... more

24 August 2017
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Bridging the Gap

The term “hard to reach” is often used to describe a number of groups within society that are seen as difficult to engage with, those regarded as disillusioned with politics and democracy. Often this term is laid at the feet of youths, the illiterate, ethnic minorities, those who barely know or participate in democratic processes. ... more

14 August 2017

Transforming Lives in Kenya

We’re delighted that, last week, our groundbreaking campaign with Astellas Pharma Europe, Action on Fistula, won Excellence in CSR at the 2017 Communiqué Awards. Launched in 2014, the Fistula Foundation’s set out to transform the lives of women in Kenya living with fistula: an injury caused by prolonged obstructed labor. Supported by a grant from ... more

12 July 2017
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Business and Society

To support the launch of “Core – How a Single Organizing Idea can Change Business for Good”, we teamed up with Neil, Be Inspired Films and the Ipsos Sustainable Development Research Centre to host an event that would bring together businesses and experts in sustainability to discuss the ideas raised by the book. Looking out ... more

SOI – an idea whose time has come

This book has had a long gestation. I’ve spent twenty five years working with organizations of every type and flavour from across the globe – multinational businesses, charities, tech start-ups, faith organizations – and there was always one quality which really marked out the good ones; they had absolute clarity in their reason for being ... more

11 July 2017
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Time for change

New Ipsos MORI research released today by Forster Communications in partnership with Neil Gaught & Associates highlights the public’s strong belief that the current way of doing business isn’t working, and their desire to see business do more to make a positive difference. Just 18% of UK consumers agree the current economic system is working ... more

Responding to terrorism – head versus heart

Our office was closed early last week as it was inside the police cordon surrounding Borough Market following the London Bridge terrorist attack. It was a real jolt to see such a familiar place sealed off with police tape, to see the rubbish dropped in panic on the Saturday night still lying in the gutter. ... more

15 June 2017
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The gig economy: the role of responsible employers in correctly classifying their workforce

What do Uber, CitySprint, Excel and Pimlico Plumbers have in common? They have all been found by employment tribunals to have wrongly classified their workers as self-employed independent contractors. By doing so, they have denied them workers’ entitlements such as paid holiday and the right to be paid the national minimum wage. There are further ... more

15 June 2017
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Progress never sleeps

Progress isn’t easy. A lot of the time it feels like you are swimming in treacle, thrashing about and making little headway. Even worse, it can feel like one step forward and two steps back. That is why it is important to take the time to reflect on and celebrate when real tangible progress is ... more

Managing mental health at work

Mental health is in the news more than ever;  whether it’s the royals launching the “Heads Together” campaign, the positioning of mental health in the major party manifestos in the run up to this year’s general election, or that mental health related sickness absence is overtaking muscular-skeletal conditions in non-manual employment, it’s clear that there ... more

Why the gender pay gap is still a problem – and how flex could fix it

There’s no question that the gender pay gap is firmly on the agenda. From today, all organisations with more than 250 employees are legally required to collect data on the gap between the average hourly pay of the men and women who work there. And they’ll need to report on their figures by 4th April ... more

5 April 2017
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If we ran the country (or at least the communications bit)

Leadership has always been important, but it is particularly so as we enter the uncharted waters of Brexit. Our current (unelected, remember) Prime Minister is a case in point – someone who needs to show the right kind of leadership while navigating a divided country through at least two years of uncertainty and disagreement. We ... more

22 March 2017
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Men and babies

Job done, we’ve got equality in our workplace, so what’s the problem? It’s tempting to think that from the comfort of a female-empowered office like ours where our CEO is a woman, we have no gender pay gap, and where I have recently returned from maternity leave into a four-day-a-week role as a senior consultant. ... more

9 March 2017
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#BeBoldForChange – our gender pay gap

Today marks International Women’s Day and with the new government legislation around gender pay gap reporting being introduced next month, debate around the causes behind and best ways to tackle the gender pay gap is louder than ever. The recently published CIPR #StateofPR report shows that women are disadvantaged at all levels in terms of ... more

8 March 2017
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Businesses unite in a bid to make the UK economy ‘fit for the future’ by backing sustainable development

Over 80 major businesses have united to call on the Government to demonstrate its commitment to delivering the UN Sustainable Development Goals in the UK and overseas Open letter to Prime Minister says sustainable development is essential for long term prosperity and the wellbeing of future generations Letter is published on the eve of the ... more

Talking – the first step to making business work for all

Our CEO Amanda Powell-Smith wonders – what would the world look like if the vast majority of businesses focused on being a force for good as well as generating profits? We might soon find out if the current appetite and interest in mission-led business blossoms into something more substantial. With the many and various body ... more

5 January 2017
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It’s all about the application

In the lead up to FutureFest last month, Nesta carried out a survey which revealed that more people would rather live now than in 20 years’ time. Geoff Mulgan, Chief Executive at Nesta, reminded us that our future is a choice; we have an opportunity to change this fear into possibility. “The concept of the ... more

Identity crisis for charities

As umbrella terms go, “charity” is a pretty good one to be lumped in with, certainly better than political party or bank. Despite the recent and worrying decline in public trust and confidence in the charity sector, there remains a huge well of public goodwill. It isn’t just the public either – 69% of MPs ... more

15 September 2016
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Forster Communications is the only UK PR agency to receive global award for good business practice

Forster Communications has won two Best for the World awards from B Lab, the non-profit organisation that serves a global movement of business seeking to be a force for good. Forster scooped wins in both ‘Best for Workers’ and ‘Most Overall Community impact’ categories, making it the only UK based PR agency to win an ... more

7 September 2016
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22 years: Proof Positive

We’ve been thinking positively and working with our clients to make real positive change for the last 22 years. Here are just a few of the things we’re most proud of which show that if businesses, governments, charities and people work together, we can make good things happen…   In 2003 we created Seeing is ... more

Now it’s cool to be kind – how to tempt in the millennials

Research by Net Impact has revealed that nearly 60% of millennials say they are willing to accept a smaller salary in order to work for an employer that shares their values. ... more

18 August 2016
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Modern slavery

Theresa May has made it clear that as Prime Minister she is determined to continue the mission against modern slavery, which became one of the hallmarks of her time as Home Secretary. Within a couple of weeks of moving in to Number 10, Mrs May set up the first ever government task force on modern ... more

9 August 2016
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Five Ways We Can All Limit Loneliness

Loneliness is a public health crisis. And one that's getting worse. It's a crisis facing individuals, so it's often invisible, yet pervasive - in organisations, at home, among the young and elderly, advantaged and disadvantaged. ... more

7 January 2016
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Bringing business to society

As the year comes to an end, you would be forgiven for believing the world has never been in worse shape. Social unrest, environmental devastation, economic uncertainty, multiple conflicts and the seemingly relentless rise of extremism – all have reared their heads repeatedly in 2015. But, you’d be wrong. The world is currently more peaceful, ... more

We’re in the business of action

Raising awareness is one thing, getting people to take action is another. We’ve spent 20 years successfully inspiring the latter and have brought all that knowhow together to create our new Activation practice. It will focus on helping clients create campaigns and movements that inspire people to challenge attitudes, support a cause, change the way ... more

B Corps because…

There was a time in the late 20th century when any new social change movement came in from left field, pushed hard, prompted and pressurised, before being replaced by a newer, more sophisticated idea. How times have changed! Today, in a mainstreaming culture, new ideas have to focus on rapid assimilation. It helps if they ... more

24 September 2015
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Forster Communications becomes one of the founding B Corps in the UK

Forster Communications has just become one of the UK’s first certified B Corporations, joining the community of UK Founding B Corps which officially launches in London on 24 September 2015. B Corps (‘Benefit Corporations’) are businesses of all sizes and types, independently certified to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. ... more

4 September 2015
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We’re not allowed to discriminate… but we do

Last week Forster had a session on becoming a dementia friends. For those not familiar with the scheme this is an hour’s interactive briefing run by Alzheimer’s Society, designed to make people more aware of what it is like to have dementia and the problems those with the disease encounter on a daily basis. As ... more

5 ways we can all limit loneliness

Loneliness is a public health crisis. And one that’s getting worse. It’s a crisis facing individuals, so it’s often invisible, yet pervasive – in organisations, at home, among the young and elderly, advantaged and disadvantaged. What can we do about loneliness? Here are some suggestions. In Paulo Coelho’s book ‘Eleven Minutes’, loneliness is the worst ... more

18 June 2013
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Work with the world

How did we arrive at the horsemeat scandal? What led to the need for Hugh’s Fish Fight? Jilly Forster, says it’s time for organisations of all kinds to work in partnership with the world. An increasingly watchful, digitally remastered global public cannot be duped for very long by policies or practices that defy the rational ... more

13 February 2013
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Plugging the kindness deficit

It used to be pretty easy to be kind. Before the banks started losing billions down the back of the sofa in 2008 many of us were living comfortable, complacent lives of plenty. So being kind to each other and those we deemed to be in more need than ourselves wasn’t difficult. Security and a ... more

27 June 2012

Girlguiding UK and the ‘TOWIE’ generation

Brace yourself; and think back to your teenage years. For most this recollection brings a bitter sweet mix, a longing for ‘good old days’, swiftly followed by a large involuntary shudder at the rollercoaster of emotions, changing friendship groups and knocks to your fragile self esteem. Being a teenager in the 90s was one thing, ... more

18 June 2012