HeForShe: Anthony Tattum | Managing Director, Big Cat

Anthony Tattum, Managing Director, Big Cat Agency

Anthony Tattum is the managing director at creative communications agency Big Cat, which he co-founded in 2000.

He began his career as a music and event promoter in 1993 whilst studying at University of Birmingham.

During the mid-90s Anthony launched and promoted many of his own music events and expanded into recording, venue and artist management and tours before setting up his first consultancy business in 1998. His first clients were vFestival, Brixton Academy and Coventry University.

Anthony launched Big Cat as an integrated communications agency focused in the travel and entertainment industry working with MyTravel youth brands. Through the early 2000s Anthony focused on youth and entertainment brands and large, outdoor events before expanding into charity, local government and business services sectors.

Big Cat now works with clients in a variety of sectors such as tourism, health charities, local government, private healthcare, advanced manufacturing, education, mass participation public events, food & drink and retail.

Anthony is fascinated by complex, innovative and educational briefs. He loves new challenges and testing pioneering new technologies. He speaks at a wide range of events on subjects including eCommerce, creative communications, big idea marketing, engaging Generation C, talent development, agency management and social media.

Anthony lives in Birmingham with his wife and two children.

Why do you support the HeForShe campaign?

I do have a daughter and I am a very big advocate of “you can be or achieve anything”. I want to make my daughter feel ambitious and confident but also realistic about what is achievable and let her know that it’s only achievable if you are prepared to work your hard for it.

My Nan was also a true inspiration to me, she worked in research which is a professional marketing service and before that she was a retail entrepreneur, so I think that has set me up always knowing that women definitely as capable as men. My wife is also very successful, having worked at the BBC and now running her own creative agency.

I’ve been surrounded by positive female role models of all generations all my life so it seems really obvious to me that diversity is hugely important in the workplace.

Why do you think it’s important for men to support gender equality in the workplace?

At my company Big Cat, just over 50% of staff are women; my most senior staff member is a women and two out of three senior management team are women, so we’ve got a great balance. Diversity of genders is important but also diversity of people generally of all ages, sexes and backgrounds. Each person brings something different to the table and especially in an agency like Big Cat we need ideas and experience to benefit everyone.

I think for many women there is definitely a glass ceiling in the industry they work in, however positive action is now being taken and I would tell anyone who feels that glass ceiling to keep going until you break though it or at least invest your worth in a company where they sky’s the limit.

How welcome are men in the gender equality conversation currently?

I think sadly nowadays some men can be a bit fearful about what they can and can’t say. What may offend one women may not offend another. What is sexist and what is just women and men being different? What is an acceptable euphemism or colloquialism? Are we allowed to say girls or is it women or ladies? There are simple things like this that can make men who are very supportive of gender equality worry that they appear the opposite and I think that can deter them from joining in the conversation. However, I do think we need to be humble, ask if we don’t understand and be open to correction.

Do you think groups/networks that include the words “women in…” or “females in…” make men feel like gender equality isn’t really their problem or something they need to help with?

No, I don’t think it makes men feel it isn’t their problem. I think we can appreciate that women need a space to be able to discuss issues that affect them directly and we should respect that. I support those events where I can and where there is a place for a man to attend and to learn from them. However, I quite often see women’s networking events where they host a nail bar and a stand to have hair done which just enforces the stereotype that women only care about their nails and hair – which seems detrimental to the cause.

What can businesses do to encourage more men to feel welcome enough to get involved in the gender debate?

I think that respected organisations and authorities could hold sessions on the gender debate for all levels of staff where we would learn how to discuss the issue. However, targeting leaders can be difficult when everyone is so busy so like all events, it would need to be compelling enough to make us stop what we’re doing and go. It would need to consist of a strong line-up and they’d have to give me plenty of reminders and make it so that for those of us who feel we’re doing our bit already actually feel there’s something more we can do.

Do you currently mentor any women or have you in the past?

I mentored my wife when she set up her own business. She came from the BBC where she was an assistant producer and involved in the nuts and bolts of putting on a TV programme, budgeting and the timing, but running your own business and having to deal with HR, financial forecasting and creating a brand is a whole new thing.

I like to employ people who are brilliant at what they do but then try to develop their commerciality so that they understand how we run this business and learn how other business people think. What we do at Big Cat is not about PR or websites or social media, it’s about getting our clients more customers, more donations or making more profit. I try to mentor everybody in that – male or female.

Have you noticed any difference in mentoring women – for example, are women less likely to put themselves forward for jobs that are out of their comfort zones or are women less likely to identify senior roles that they would be suited for?

I haven’t noticed anything that I can say is gender specific. I work with some super confident women who just say it as it is and tell me what they want but equally, I have worked with men at both junior and senior levels who don’t do this. In my experience, this isn’t a gender issue, it’s down to personality.

I have always had more senior women in my business than men and in my experience, and they’ve always been outstanding in these leadership roles.

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