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Diversity is not Inclusion



Ashleigh Rennie - copywriter and owner of the Story Team

If you’ve been following my contributions to Euronewsweek, you’ll know me as a copywriter. What you might not know is that I’m also a feminist. While I acknowledge that women are in more spaces than ever before, it doesn’t mean that they’re equal. It doesn’t mean that there is equity. As long as we continue to do things the ways we’ve always done, diversity is not inclusion.

Here are three important things to understand before you continue reading:

  1. I adore men
  2. I believe language is the most important thing we have – it’s our superpower
  3. I’m okay with being vulnerable

The 8th March was International Women’s Day, and March is also Women’s History Month. I’ve delivered three speaking engagements about how diversity isn’t inclusion, and how women still have a long way to go in the world, generally, as well as in the workplace when it comes to closing the gender gap. All the gaps. Not just the financial one.

What follows isn’t a remarkable story. It’s just my story. But it speaks to the greater problems that we’re still seeing in the world – even though it’s 2022, and wow, we should have learned a thing or two by now.

It also holds as incredibly precious and vital, our use of language.


Diversity is not Inclusion – The beginning

I grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa. We weren’t wealthy, but we were very comfortable. Educated. We didn’t want for anything.

As a child, one is supposed to feel safe in the obvious places: home and school. That should be a given. And yet…


The horror of home

I grew up knowing that something was very, very wrong. I couldn’t put my finger on it, exactly. It wasn’t an overt danger I was facing. No one hit me. Or punched me. But there was a sense that one step in the wrong direction would lead to catastrophe.

My father wasn’t a fan of women. He’d married one and had three daughters with her, and yet his tolerance of females was wanting, to say the least.

I was routinely told that I was the smart one, and my sister was the pretty one.

He once told me, at the age of eight or nine, that the line from my pubic bone to my belly button was sexy.

He would find his way into my bedroom or the bathroom while I was navigating puberty. He’d simply be there. Observing.

He also regularly told me to smile. “Put a smile on your face. Wipe that look off your face. Give us a smile.”

The deeper, and much more pressing crisis, was that he held all the power. So, while we were a family of predominantly females, and we certainly didn’t lack representation, he ruled the house with an iron fist.

He controlled the money.

He itemised the shopping bills.

If my mother deviated from what was expected he would punish all of us by screaming, withholding affection, not speaking to us, or just not coming home from work.

At night, he’d come home and run his finger over the window ledges and the tables and countertops to make sure my mother had cleaned his house properly.


The other inescapable horror

At the same time as this was happening, I was in a fresh kind of hell – high school.

I didn’t look like the other girls. I didn’t have long legs and long hair. I wasn’t good at sport. My features were too big for my face. I enjoyed the cultural side of things. And because I was so desperate for adult attention, I tended to spend more time with my teachers – so I was known as a suck-up.

This lack of popularity lead to a range of bullying that happened over years. It was mostly meted out by the boys – ridicule. Jibes. Laughing at me. Calling me names – slut. Whore. Not a girl. Cute (which, in my school meant, ugly but f@!kable). I’d never kissed a boy in my life.

These boys were a particular kind of male – physically large. They played rugby. They dated the pretty girls, who were enlisted to do more of the physical bullying. I was slammed into walls and kicked in the back in class.

A very structured social hierarchy was established. If you weren’t part of that, you were in trouble. Boys who didn’t fall into this category of maleness were beaten up. Tipped upside down in dustbins. Hung over the school balcony with knives to their throat. A reminder: this was an affluent school in Johannesburg with a diversity of gender. Equity? Not a chance. Inclusion? Ha.


The Presence and Absence of Language

The effects of my home life and my school life manifested in various ways. My hair fell out. I was underweight. I had no confidence. I had no self-esteem. I was terrified of men and relationships with them until late into my 20s. I had suicidal ideation by the time I was 19. And I had fantasies of killing my father.

I didn’t understand what was going on. For years, I thought I was the problem. I was ugly. I wasn’t good enough. Smart enough. Thin enough. Athletic enough.

Then, after years of therapy, medication, and long conversations with my mother and my girlfriends – I realised that I had experienced a toxic combination of two things: the everyday sexist language that was consistently being used around me; and the absence of language around things that were formative and incredibly important.


What are we saying?

The language that we use when we’re talking to girls?


Your bra straps are showing.

Your skirt is too short.

Cross your legs.

Don’t be a know it all.

Don’t answer all the questions in class.

Don’t be a showoff.

Stop being bossy.

You have a nipple stand.

Cover up.

Don’t distract the boys.

Don’t make the male teachers uncomfortable.

Don’t be too loud.

We teach children that girls are powerful and dangerous, and we sexualise their bodies. While there may be diversity in schools, that diversity is not inclusion.

And we teach boys that girls are there to be objectified. We prioritise his education over girls. This is bad news for boys too. Because any boy that is slightly effeminate, or shows emotions, or wears their hair long, or cries, or wears pink is targeted. Why? Because they’re too feminine. And society isn’t a fan of the feminine, unless it’s in a bikini. You run like a girl. You scream like a girl. You hit like a girl. Don’t be such a girl.

We’re not fans of girls.


What are we not saying?

The absence of language is just as devastating to diversity and inclusion.

Growing up, there were things we didn’t talk about. When I was around 13 or 14 we went out for lunch in a restaurant. I started having the worst abdominal cramps I’d ever experienced. It felt like knives were slicing up my insides. I had sharp, shooting pains down my legs. It was only 24-36 hours later that I realised I was having my first period. No one had prepared me for this. No one had told me what would happen to my body.

As I was being bullied at school, there was the implied threat that if I spoke out about it, I would suffer. I knew that these kids carried knives. There was no way I could take a stand and talk about what was happening.

This restriction around language and the policing of women when they try to say no, or they try to speak out, takes many forms as we get older. The threats range from being laughed at, ostracised and jeered at, to not getting the raise or promotion we’re after, to being physically attacked in the street, on public transport, and in other public spaces. Soraya Chemaly explores this in detail in her book Rage Becomes Her.


My theory – you’re not going to like it

If your organisation and your people engage in everyday sexist language, or there’s an unspoken rule that certain things don’t get discussed, then your organisation is my father and the boys at school when I was growing up, and your women are me.

We balk at this idea. It’s worth remembering that we are taught this gendered way of being before we can even speak. It’s possible that you don’t even see it happening around you, because it is so normalised.


What do we do?

All around me, I see women who lack confidence. Who are pushing all the time to move beyond that. Who are fighting the structures in place that support the idea that diversity is not inclusion.

I can only tell you what I’ve done.

  1. I work with women. They are my clients. They are my network. I love men and I find them smart and brilliant, but I feel most comfortable with other women. I want to uplift other women, and I want to be uplifted by them.
  2. I talk about it. I speak about feminism and the need we still have for it in society as often as I can.
  3. I tell little girls that they are clever. I ask them what books they’re reading. I ask them what they like to do at school. I NEVER tell them they’re pretty. And if I like her outfit, I’ll tell her she looks totally fierce and, dressed like that, one day she’ll take on the world.
  4. I make money. As much of it as I can. Because, as Rachel Rogers says in We Should All be Millionaires – we need to make bank. That’s what gives us our autonomy.

If you’re a woman reading this, you can leave. It will be rough. But if you draw on the resilience you have inside you, it will be okay.

To men, the next time you are in a conversation about women being barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen, or you hear the term female author, or female doctor, or you see a man making a woman feel uncomfortable, say something. We need allies. More than anything, we need you to be our allies. As long as everyday sexist language exists, and as long as we aren’t talking about it, diversity is not inclusion.

Ashleigh is a Copyhackers-trained conversion copywriter who helps ambitious business owners attract their ideal clients and generate wealth with words. She's also a speaker, a feminist, and dog mom. She lives in London and works with incredible businesses all over the world.


What is credit invisibility and how can it affect your finances?



A woman paying groceries with cash
Only paying in cash will make it difficult to build a credit history and may make you may be credit invisible

If you’ve never taken out a loan or owned a credit card, you may be credit invisible. This means that financial institutions have no records to show that you’ve borrowed money responsibly in the past, which lenders largely rely on to approve you for financial products.

Everybody starts off with invisible credit. However, it can affect you in more ways than one, so it’s important to seek ways to build your credit history as early as you can. Here, we look at some of the effects of credit invisibility on your finances, and offer a few tips to start becoming credit visible.

Access to financial products

Before being approved for any kind of financial product in which you borrow an amount of money, a lender will run a credit check to ensure you have a good credit history. Usually, they’ll be looking to see that you have a high credit score – this would prove that you’ve borrowed money responsibly in the past, and have been able to continuously keep up with repayment obligations.

When you have no credit history for lenders to look at, it can make it harder to qualify for financial products. Your lender will know that you have no prior experience managing borrowed money, and therefore can’t for certain know that you’ll pay any amount back that you borrow. This can be true of all kinds of borrowing options, such as credit cards and loans.

Low limits, high fees

Ultimately, everyone starts off with limited or invisible credit history. So, there will always be a restricted number of financial products available to those looking to borrow for the first time.

However, you may not be offered the best deal if you’re credit invisible. For example, you might be offered a lower limit on a credit card you apply for, or a smaller sum of money on a loan. Plus, you’re likely to face higher interest fees than those who have a visible credit history.

Stagnated progression

Most people will need to borrow money from a lender at some point or another. Usually this will be to pay for a big life expense – you may be buying a house with a mortgage, or purchasing a car on finance. Having limited access to credit options can make goals like these much harder to work towards and obtain. Unfortunately, this could have a knock on effect on your overall quality of life.

Limited access to financial products means that you’ll largely have to rely on your own savings to make any big purchases – this could set you back years when it comes to owning a property.

How can you become credit visible?

Luckily, credit invisibility impacting your quality of life in the long-term is a worst-case scenario. As long as you take a proactive approach towards your finances, you can easily remedy your credit invisibility.

There are plenty of simple steps you can take to become credit visible – you can get on the electoral roll, link your current account to a credit reference agency, or take out a monthly mobile phone contract. These tasks won’t necessarily prove that you can borrow money responsibly, but they’re a good place to start.

Next, you’ll want to look into credit options. Taking out a credit card or loan with a low limit and a high interest rate can seem like an unappealing option, but as long as you can cope with the financial responsibility, it’ll be worth it in the long run. By sticking to your limit and repayment commitments, you’ll prove to your lender that you are a responsible borrower. In turn, this will be reflected on your credit report, and your credit history will begin to take shape. Using such a product responsibly is likely to boost your credit score rather swiftly, which can qualify you for further credit options. You may even find that after a set period of time, your lender is willing to increase your limit and offer a lower rate of interest on your product.

Getting started

Keen to start building your credit history? Do plenty of research on the products available to you before making any long-term commitment. To ensure that you can keep up with the financial responsibility, create a detailed financial plan for the best results.

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Extreme tourism market to reach $91 Billion



Extreme Tourism Market to Reach $91.0 Billion
Mountain climbing held the highest extreme tourism market share in 2022 | Photo: Connor Moynihan

A recent report published by Allied Market Research forecasts that the global extreme tourism market, valued at $24.2 billion in 2022, could reach $91.0 billion by 2032.

The growing influence of social media is a powerful force surging demand in the extreme tourism market, which attracts travellers those leaving their comfort zones to engage in activities that are considered high-risk, adventurous, or unconventional, such as skydiving, bungee jumping, and rock climbing. Thanks to platforms such as Instagram and YouTube, serving visuals and tutorials breathtaking adventures,

Travelers, inspired by visually appealing content on platforms such as Instagram and YouTube, are actively seeking out thrilling experiences to share on their own social networks, driving a sense of Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) among younger demographics, compelling them to actively participate in adrenaline-pumping activities to create their shareable moments.

By adventure type, the mountain climbing segment held the highest market share in 2022, accounting for more the two-fifths of the global extreme tourism market revenue and is estimated to maintain its leadership status throughout the forecast period. However, the skydiving segment is projected to manifest the highest CAGR of 15.2% from 2023 to 2032.

25 to 45 years is the age group holding the highest market share since 2022, according to the report, accounting for more than two-fifths of the global extreme tourism market revenue. The segment is estimated to maintain its leadership status throughout the forecast period. However, by 2032 it will be below 25 years segment that is projected to have the highest CAGR: 15.3%.

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Petrol up 6p a litre so far this year in the UK



Increase in the cost of wholesale petrol has squeezed the average retailer margin which has now reduced to 8p a litre | Photo: Engin Akyurt

Petrol went up nearly 2p (1.86p) a litre in March from 144.62p to 146.48p meaning the average price at the pumps has increased almost 6p since the start of the year, data from RAC Fuel Watch reveals.

Diesel rose by more than a penny from 154.68p to 155.99p (1.31p), making for three consecutive months of rises. A full 55-litre tank of petrol now costs £80.56 – up by £1 – and diesel £85.79, up 72p.

While the increase in forecourt prices was driven by a 5% rise in the cost of a barrel of oil (from $83.55 to $87.48) in March, a surge in demand for petrol in the United States ahead of the summer has caused the wholesale price of unleaded to rise to match that of diesel. This meant that by the end of March, a litre of unleaded cost 113.3p on the wholesale market, only a penny or so less than diesel at 114.69p. If this remains the case, the gap between the two fuels at the pumps should close from its current 7p in the next few weeks.

RAC Fuel Watch data shows the increase in the cost of wholesale petrol has squeezed the average retailer margin which has now reduced to 8p a litre, in contrast to 10.5p at the beginning of the month. The average margin on diesel is 11p, up by a penny over the same period.

Looking at the big four supermarkets which dominate UK fuel retailing, Tesco had the cheapest unleaded on 31 March at an average of 142.7p across its 511 forecourts, while Asda had the most expensive at 145p. Asda, which for many years prided itself on selling the lowest-priced supermarket fuel, also had a whopping 33p price difference between its cheapest and most expensive petrol. The grocer charged 139.7p at nine forecourts, four of which are in Northern Ireland, and 172.9p at junction 29A of the M1 near Sheffield – a Shell-branded site operated by Asda. Comparatively, Tesco had the smallest difference between its lowest and highest prices at just 6p (138.9p v 144.9p).

At the end of March Sainsbury’s sold the cheapest unleaded at 136.9p at two sites – one in Wolverhampton and one at Dungannon in Northern Ireland. Tesco, however, was charging its lowest price – 138.9p – at 30 separate forecourts. Asda, on the other hand, was only charging its lowest petrol price of 139.7p at nine of its 658 forecourts.

Sainsbury’s and Tesco were tied for the lowest average diesel price across their portfolios at 151.7p and 151.8p. Asda’s gap between its cheapest and most expensive diesel was 35.2p (147.7p at Torquay and two in Northern Ireland v 182.9p at the Shell-branded site it runs near junction 29 of the M1).

Tesco had the smallest gap of just 6p between diesel at its forecourts (148.9p v 154.9p) while Morrisons was also under 10p (145.7p v 154.9p) Sainsbury’s had the cheapest diesel at 142.9p, but this was only available at Andersonstown, near Belfast, in Northern Ireland. Tesco’s lowest price of 148.9p was, however, on offer at 45 of its forecourts.

BP and Shell-operated forecourts also have very large differences between their cheapest and highest fuel prices. For unleaded BP has a gap of 27p (142.9p v 169.9p) and Shell 26p (143.9p v 169.9p) across their 287 and 536 forecourts. For diesel, it is 30p for BP (149.9p v 179.9p) and 26p for Shell (153.9p v 179.9p).

“The rising cost of oil, combined with the pound still only being worth a meagre $1.3, has led to another month of misery at the pumps with the price of petrol going up 2p a litre. Sadly, this means the average price of petrol has gone up nearly 6p so far this year,” says RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams.

“The data also reveals that Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons only offer their cheapest prices at one or two stores whereas Tesco offers it at around 30 forecourts, albeit at a slightly higher cost. Its customers also have the comfort of knowing that there’s only 6p difference between its lowest and highest prices.

“Sadly, Asda appears not to be the force it once was in fuel retailing. Gone are the days when it used to announce big headline-grabbing pump price cuts when wholesale prices fell, along with a promise at the time that drivers would never pay more than a certain low price at any of its forecourts.

“On a more positive note, it’s good to see the average retailer margin on petrol come down from 10.5p a litre at the start of March to under 8p. While the cause is most likely to be the increase in the wholesale price of petrol, it could also be due to the CMA again raising concerns about higher retailer margins very publicly just last week.”

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