Every great story takes a village. Joining ours this week is Jane Evans.
Jane is THE embodiment of radical empathy. She created the first ad ever to show a divorced couple. And the first ad to show men doing housework effectively. She also created Australia’s first craft beer. We could go on (and on, and on… she’s that good).
These days, she’s running The Uninvisibility Project, a part-comms agency, part-activist organisation, part-think tank, to communicate and represent the world’s most powerful consumer group: women over 50. And the really cool thing about Jane is that she’s lived a brilliant life underpinned by empathy, wayyyyy before it was a buzzword.
1. So, Jane, you’re in a (socially distanced) bar and a founder asks you for practical tips around implementing empathy. What do you tell them?
Employ your mum. Seriously. There should be a mum role in every organisation. If you were a product, how well were you brought to market? Who has had your back all the way along? And how many times was she right?
That doesn’t mean to say that there has to be an actual mum, but in any startup somebody has to take the role of mum. And, frankly, mid-life women have EQ and soft skills in spades.
“Employ your mum. Seriously. There should be a mum role in every organisation.”
If you really want to succeed, hire a woman over 55 — they’ve been proven to be the best bosses. They’re also the only land-based animal that goes through menopause. Every other land-based animal breeds themselves to death. When whales go through menopause, they become leaders of the pods because they’ve got everybody’s best interests at heart.
We should be more like whales.
2. We often work with founders who perhaps feel empathy can be a little wishy washy or woo-woo for their comms. I mean, it makes sense. For so long, business has been fixated on the bottom line at the cost of much else. What’s your counter-argument?
Be fucking honest. Empathy isn’t sympathy. Empathy is getting down and dirty with people. Empathy is saying: “I know you’re scared, I know you’re frightened, I know you’ve got money problems… what can we do together to help this?” It’s not a case of being a saviour, either.
We need to get down in the trenches with people that are suffering and look at ways of getting them out there. And if you can’t, as a company, recognise that your consumer, whether that be an investment firm with a commercial property or the cleaner that cleans that property, you’ve got to be able to feel their pain. Even if it’s just a slight bit of relief for them. What piece of relief can you give?
This is not the time to be sitting in an ivory tower pontificating. This is the time to be getting down, getting dirty and doing everything you damn well can to help. You do that and the bottom line will take care of itself.
Money is energy.
3. Why do you think now, more than ever, empathy is a non-negotiable for any brand?
There are going to be winners and losers. If we continue with this ‘winner takes all’ attitude, we’re doomed as a society. We have to be sensible about how we spend, what we invest in… we all have to look at ways of being in this together. This is humanity.
We’ve got to show our humanity and our empathy.