In aid of International Women’s Day 2023, we’re shining a light on the inspirational women we work with, collaborate with, or have pure admiration for as female pioneers within their fields.
As part of our Words of Wisdom blog series, we interviewed seven inspirational female founders from tech, PR, research and fundraising to discuss this year’s Embracing Equity theme.
I’m Amy Middleton, Founder and Director of BEAM Fieldwork, which is a title that brings me great pride.
In my 25 years of Market Research, I’ve been a venue host, a recruiter, a Fieldwork Manager, a Senior Fieldwork Manager, and a Fieldwork Director. I’ve even dipped my toe into moderating, being a prominent member of the BIG Committee, the ICG, and a full member of the MRS and AQR. This extensive experience is why I started my own Fieldwork Agency, BEAM Fieldwork.
The company that BEAM Fieldwork is today far from what it was like when it first started. It began with my best friend Vic, both of us working from laptops on the sofa in my home. And in six short years, we have grown to a team of 20, and we’re still growing.
I’m often asked why I chose the name BEAM, and the answer is pretty simple. Beams are symbolic of light – of big ideas – because our ideas aren’t small lightbulb moments, they’re beaming white lights.
Yet, more recently, BEAM has taken on a new meaning to me: that there is always light at the end of a tunnel. When Vic sadly passed away, the BEAMIES (as I like to call them) helped me navigate some tough times. Their ability to provide continuity and set exceptional standards in my absence is a true credit to the team.
My friend Vic was also an inspirational woman, even when facing the toughest time going through her own battle with the big C, her words to me were ‘Whatever happens, don’t let Beam go”,
Her legacy lives on in the Beamies that are here today and remembered every day in our values – BE Supportive, BE Resourceful, BE Trustworthy and BE Effective.
How can organisations be more inclusive to encompass marginalised and vulnerable groups such as youth, women, persons with disability and so forth?
There are many worthwhile causes, but only so many we can help tangibly but we try to do what we can for causes close to our hearts. Beam has recently become a patron of the MRBA, a charity that provides financial support and advice to individuals experiencing hardship who have worked in any aspect of market research. The charity also has a bursary scheme to pay for younger researchers and those new to our industry to take the MRS’ Advanced Certificate in Market and Social Research qualification.
Give Opinions is also a patron of Kidscan, a Salford-based charity that funds research into kinder cancer treatments for children. It also sponsors students to complete PhDs, again supporting the much-needed researchers of the future.
We are passionate about supporting the next generations at Beam and threading this ethic into the DNA of the business. I have a team of five employees who have fully embraced this mission and formed a Kidscan fundraising group which has pledged to host a dedicated fundraising event every quarter.
What does embracing equity mean to you?
Elevating, celebrating and amplifying the achievements of not just women in the workplace but all employees within the workplace, with no recognition of gender, race, or mental health state.
By authentically supporting individuals with their needs, both the business and the employees can truly thrive. We actively measure well-being at work via an employee engagement survey every quarter. The team can answer this anonymously, allowing them to honestly voice their opinions about the business and any potential improvements without fearing reprimand.
I’m happy to report that our general positivity score only improves, so we must be doing something right. By measuring well-being in the workplace and providing an open and encouraging environment, we can constantly improve our standards, resulting in a happy workforce that considers, recognises and listens to every single employee’s voice, and embraces their differences.
In which areas should more efforts be employed to ensure more inclusiveness?
The market research industry has historically been female-led, and in keeping with this trend, Beam began with an all-female team. Breaking this bias was important to me, so I made it a mission to attract male employees to the team.
I’m now proud to say that we have welcomed International Project Manager John Lawrence, UK Project Manager Pat Connolly and as part of our temps team, Luis Kehoe. They are brave men dealing with the daily trials and tribulations of 18 women every day, but they are excellent at being level-headed, bringing a sense of calmness to the team.
Moving forward, we will continue to engage with and attract more men to the team. More importantly, we want to attract top talent based on encompassing our Beam values, irrelevant of the gender they identify as.
Please share any good examples of practices, measures or initiatives that can be adopted, shared and/or scaled up.
At Beam, we have implemented various initiatives to ensure that embracing equity is reflected within the DNA of the business.
The Managers have all undertaken mental health awareness courses, enabling them to deal more effectively with staff members who may suffer from wide-ranging mental health issues. We try our hardest to support employees however we can, and each has a dedicated support manager to confide in and help them manage their workload effectively.
To further promote well-being at work, every employee can access Companion, a well-being app that provides daily motivational quotes and online mental health-related workshops and courses.
We also offer flexible working hours, if needed, with remote work opportunities for staff members struggling with childcare, for example.
We’ve recently become patrons for Kidscan, a children’s cancer research charity. Unfortunately, only 3.5% of cancer funding in the UK goes towards finding gentler treatments for children’s cancer. This results in children being given adult treatments which destroy their bodies resulting in debilitating life-long effects.
We’re working with Kidscan to conduct a study examining how we can educate children, schools, and employers and how they can support someone living with these symptoms.
Everyone should have an opportunity to thrive, not just survive, which is the essence of embracing equity to me.
Interested in knowing more? Drop Amy a line at email@example.com