Me – on TV?

Friday, 9th February 2024

By Alison Loveday, Partner – LLM Solicitors, pro-manchester Board Member & Co-Chair of the Skills Committee

As a long-standing member and director of pro-Manchester, I know how hard the team work to ensure that when collating any of the hundreds of events they put on each year, the speakers and panelists are comfortable with their presentations and are as representative as possible. Sounds easy, but definitely isn’t.

In my former life as the Chief Executive of Berg Law firm, I regularly had to present to my colleagues, in board meetings, client presentations and so on. It wasn’t the favourite part of my job but with time, I got more comfortable with that aspect of my role.

I then got a call from our PR company one day to ask if we had somebody who would appear on breakfast TV the following day to talk about a new report that was about to be issued. I said immediately yes we could help, but it wouldn’t be me. I anticipated that one of my colleagues who was more involved in that area of work at the time would want to do it. An hour later, I was calling back to say that after all it would be me. Nobody else wanted to do it.

I did it. My world didn’t fall apart and it all went fine. Following that, I have regularly been interviewed on TV and radio, and it has helped raise the profile of the cause or topic I’m talking about , as well as my personal profile.

So why didn’t my colleagues want to do it? Outside of their comfort zone? Lack of confidence?-Not something you can usually say about lawyers!

A few years later I went to an event that the BBC and they spoke about how difficult it was to get women on the TV. Despite a concerted effort to get equal representation, all too often women said no. They had genuine reasons-such as their childcare or caring responsibilities, but the end result all was ,and is, that BBC journalists have to work extremely hard to get anywhere near equal representation. They may call 10 women to come on, all of whom say no. They ring one man and he will say yes, where do you want me, even before they know what the topic is. There’s a lot to unpack in their but a lack of confidence is one issue. Another is the fear of being criticised for their personal appearance.

I can honestly say that my appearance didn’t cross my mind when asked. When I did get home after that very first interview though, my son who was about nine at the time did come running over to see what shoes I was wearing. A bit odd I thought? He then explained that one of the girls in his class had seen me on the TV that morning and liked my shoes. That situation shows that people may not understand what you are talking about (my son’s school friend definitely wouldn’t have ) but they will still take on board how you look-so appearance must definitely come into it. We are all human beings at the end of the day and it’s an innate part of our nature.

This takes me onto the idea that if we don’t see it, we don’t think we can do it. This is a huge part of the dialogue around diversity and inclusion right now. Ensuring that our panellists include people from every walk of life and are ethnically diverse is critically important. Social mobility is so important and making individuals feel that they can put themselves forward for jobs, training or promotion, will be helped if they can see someone just like them doing it.

I am the joint chair of the pro-Manchester skills committee and this has been a topic we have spoken about a lot at our recent meetings.

With a view to shining a light on this important topic we are holding a breakfast event on 5 March 2024

We have a great line-up of speakers and will be considering what is stopping people from putting themselves forward, what support and training they can take on board to overcome any barriers, personal experiences of the difference coaching and training can make and the active steps that are being taken to encourage true representation.

 Finding your Voice: being the spokesperson for your company