Women in Business Interview – Kimberley Hornby, Managing Director, Hornby Whitefoot PR (Glee's PR team for over a decade)
What is your experience of being a women in the industry/business?
It's not unusual to see a news article on almost a daily basis regarding sexual discrimination in the workplace, or a call to arms from women looking to achieve equality. I have these women's backs until the end of time, no question. But knowing what some women have had to go through makes me realise how lucky I have been throughout my entire career, as being a woman has never caused me any challenges. Admittedly I wouldn't let it, I'll stand up for myself always but also, from day one, I have felt a sense of inclusivity and have been supported in every possible way. My gender has never been a hinderance, nor would I say it has ever been a help. In this industry, you are judged on your ability to do your job. Success is acknowledged and rewarded, and it is through this that both women and men are able to grow and develop.
Where do you find support for women in the industry?
This industry is full of some incredibly inspirational women – from heading up our leading trade associations and charities, to building internationally acclaimed brands or standard-setting retail environments – it's safe to say that there is an inspirational woman wherever you turn. I'm lucky enough to know many of these, and to even call some of them my friends. This knowledge offers peace of mind, enabling me to tap into a great resource of ideas, opinions and experience – and trust me, I make use of this as often as I can.
How have you overcome any difficulties in the industry/business?
Running a business is hard, and anyone who says otherwise is either a liar or should share the secret of their success with the rest of us! But then again, no-one ever said it would be easy. Any difficulties I've faced have never been because I am a woman, they come from other factors such as budgets, the state of the market or a basic lack of understanding of what PR is and what it can achieve. These challenges are so often out of my control, and certainly won't be going anywhere anytime soon. That doesn't however mean I can sit here and have a one-woman pity party. Far from it. We all face similar challenges, but the key is getting on with it. We are good at what we do, and achieve results for our clients, growing the success of each campaign year after year. This is the basis for our future growth, and what helps me get out of bed every day.
How can we encourage more women to get involved in the industry?
I think the biggest difficulty facing our industry isn't so much gender related, but more skills related. Our challenges come from getting knowledgeable and passionate people into garden retailing, instead of losing them to more standard 9-5 jobs.
However, to draw more women into the sector we need to focus on those women in our industry that are killing it right now – from our top buyers, to those geniuses behind the scenes who design and style all our latest product innovations, our merchandisers, sales women, MDs and Directors, editors, and our garden designers that are trailblazing across the globe. The pool to pick from is vast and varied. We need to celebrate this more.
Who is your biggest female inspiration?
It has to be Beyonce. Her music is empowering, and she's shown time and time again that females run the world! However looking back in history, I would say Elizabeth I was the original powerhouse, and I think we can learn a lot from her. She ruled in a time of men, and yet will always be remembered as being one of the most powerful women in history. That's girl power at its greatest.