Acting for Diversity: Sinead Rose on Creating a Charitable Organization for Women
For Contentsquare’s annual CX Circle magazine, we sat down with Sinead Rose, the founder of We Are We, a U.K. charity focused on empowerment of women and working towards gender equality. The charity’s main area of focus is ending period poverty in the U.K. through education, donations, and policy to ensure every woman has access to feminine products when they need them. Outside of running We Are We, Rose is also a consultant with over 10 years of experience working for leading companies like Google, Shopify, Amazon, and Salesforce. Here’s what she had to say on how she got where she is today and what it’s like starting and running a charity:
1. What were the defining moments that made you who you are today?
The first defining moment was when I decided to let go of the preconceived notion of who I should be.
Growing up, I had a vision of what I was supposed to be doing, always wanting to meet my own high expectations. But when I decided to let that go, go with the flow, and take advantage of opportunities as soon as they came, I became more confident in myself and suddenly, opportunities started coming my way.
The first was when I had the opportunity to work at Google.
But despite Google being arguably one of the largest and best companies to work for, and a company that represented a lot of different demographics and groups, I found it shocking that that diversity wasn’t reflected internally. Part of what inspired me to become who I am today was responding to that, understanding it, and wanting to make a change.
I decided to head up an Employee Resource Group called the Afro Google Network to empower the ethnic employees within the company and within the community — which was a huge success and is now one of the key resource groups at Google today.
Through my time at Google, I was able to understand the intricacies of managing and running your own business, which was something I wanted to pursue. I decided to take a gamble and traveled to China for a couple of months to see what I could sell.
One particular product stood out: Shapewear for women. So I created a website. At first, I didn’t even buy any stock, I just put pictures up to see the demand. And to my surprise, in Dublin, the demand was absolutely there. So I decided to take it seriously and leave Google.
It was a big step. When I started at Google in 2014, I was part of a very small percentage of black females at Google (just 1.2%!). So the fact that I was leaving was a big shock to everyone. It was an opportunity, as the numbers show, that not many people get from my kind of community.
But I decided to take the opportunities that came my way. And I always believed that if I could get into Google, I could get into anywhere.
With the success of my business, BodyFleek, I was able to start donating a percentage of my profits to commonwealth charities, which is when I realized that my passion was really giving back and making a difference.
By giving back, I was able to build a personal brand and a reputation for myself, which opened up some networking opportunities. I was even invited to Buckingham Palace where I was able to speak to the Queen!
2. What are some of the most important aspects of building a successful brand?
The branding aspect is really just about taking time to understand who you are and where you want to be. I also found it really important to pay attention to feedback — whether it’s from a friend or colleague, or my own performance. Those were definitely key things when building a personal brand.
Once I had an inclination of where I wanted to go and who I wanted to be, I also set some really clear goals. That was to not only keep me accountable, but I could also use them as benchmarks to work towards.
3. What do you hope to achieve with WE ARE WE?
WE ARE WE is the encompassing charity for all things to do with women. The focus for us is female empowerment by tackling unnoticed and everyday gender taboos, so every woman can be better than her yesterday. WE ARE WE have various campaigns going on to make sure we can spread our resources.
One campaign we have currently is to eradicate period poverty in the UK as we find, through our research and networks, there are lots of women who are faced with that in today’s society. We aim to donate at least 20,000 sanitary products to women who need it by the end of 2020. Our focus is also to ensure this is done at a policy level, working closely with the government and local MPs to pass legislation to ensure that sanitation and relevant period products are available to all women free of charge.
We also have an education piece as well, going into schools and ensuring that these types of topics are taught, Especially with an eco-friendly lens, and making sure that boys are in classes as well — as we found that’s not usually the case in schools.
Now we are trying to expand our network and empower as many women as possible to be who they want to be. Whether that’s through training, or access to resources, or a network they’ve never had before. It’s a really exciting time!
4. If you could go back in time and give your younger self some advice, what would you say?
One of the things I say to my little sister a lot is: FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) isn’t really real. There were certain times in my life that I really pushed myself to be in situations where I felt I wanted to be — but looking back I realize I didn’t need to be there at all. Instead, I could have focused my energy on studying, reflecting, or doing the things I really wanted to do.
I would also say, take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. In the past, I was taught to have tunnel vision with where I wanted to go. But when you’re young, it’s more important to work out where you want to be. So if you can take the opportunity to do multiple things.
Thirdly, don’t be afraid to fail. Failure is one of the most important parts of your life to help you understand where you can do better.