The Corporate Responsibility Manager of TI Media, Jane Mortimore, explains exactly what her role entails, the four pillars she focuses on and how she is navigating these uncertain times.
What was it that made you want to work in the publishing industry?
I initially learnt my Corporate Responsibility skills in the financial services sector. Before that, I worked in media and when this job came up at TI Media (then Time Inc. UK) for a Corporate Responsibility Manager, I thought that was a great way to use both sets of skills.
Chart your career from the start to where you are now.
I started out on Weekend magazine as features assistant and then took on a PA role at The Mail on Sunday and from there I moved to the Daily Mail. I worked at an independent television company, firstly in their development team and secondly as a production coordinator. After I had my son, I saw a role advertised for a Corporate Responsibility assistant at a financial services firm, and thought it sounded interesting. It was essentially just me and my director, and we sort of made it up as we went along, as it was right at the beginning of corporate responsibility activity. I was there for 12 years and by the time I left, Corporate Responsibility had become integral to the firm’s strategy and the team had grown to 10 people. I moved to a heritage charity for a short time before I got the role as Corporate Responsibility Manager at TI Media in 2013.
What exactly does Corporate Responsibility mean?
A broad definition of Corporate Responsibility is how companies manage their business purpose to produce a positive impact on society. This can involve community relationships, charitable support, managing environmental impact and implementing responsible business and governance practices. As well as being the right thing to do, it’s an important tool to engage staff, investors and shareholders, and is important in building and maintaining a good business reputation.
How has Corporate Responsibility evolved overtime?
It has become more of a ‘must have’ as part of business strategy and in the last couple of years, has increasingly had to address very important environmental issues. At TI Media we focus on four different pillars: Community, Charity, Responsible Business and Sustainability. It is also important that Corporate Responsibility ties in with our overall business and HR strategy so that it has real meaning and impact to all stakeholders.
Why do you think big publishers need Corporate Responsibility teams?
The three issues that I think are big for the publishing sector now are trust in our content, sustainability around our processes and diversity in our workforces. Corporate Responsibility strategies can help address these areas. It’s essential that everything we produce in print or online is accurate, fair and socially responsible, therefore following publishing and media sector guidelines is essential. With environmental and sustainability issues, we need to mitigate our environmental impact as much as possible, and this area is just going to become more urgent as we try to address the climate emergency. Publishing and Media are lagging behind other sectors in addressing diversity and social mobility. I believe that well thought out community programmes and initiatives can be part of the solution.
What is the initiative that you are most proud of at TI Media?
Forming the sustainability group is one of the most impactful initiatives I have been involved in. The group pulls in expertise from all areas of the business to address many of the environmental challenges we face as a business. We have just been instrumental in getting all subscription copies into paper wrap. The group has allowed people who wouldn’t normally work together to collaborate, and that teamwork has really paid off. We have four core members and we pull in other people when we need them. We need to continually question what we do around environmental issues – it’s a quick moving area. Paper is the solution for now, but that may change in the future. Solving one problem can often create another.
What are you focusing on now as Corporate Responsibility Manager during this COVID-19 outbreak?
Like everyone else, I am reinventing my role in this new reality. However, I think that CR professionals can, to a certain extent, cut through some of the communication noise we are facing and find ways to support the mental health and wellbeing of our colleagues. I am re-thinking staff engagement and looking for solutions to feelings of isolation and powerlessness.
How does this outbreak affect the four pillars in Corporate Responsibility that you focus on at TI: Community, Charity, Responsible Business and Sustainability?
I have obviously had to put community initiatives and charity support events I was planning on hold. However, I am already thinking of ways to encourage local community support as everyone is now at home and many people eager to help those who are self-isolating. I am also trying to think creatively about how we can support The Brain Tumour Charity, our current charity partner, as they, along with many other charities, will be facing a tough time. We can’t forget about sustainability, but that may take a back seat for a few weeks, while we focus on everyone working out how to function remotely, and I have just read a very interesting article about how responsible businesses at this time must offer creative value that is not self-promoting, i.e. not capitalising on the emergency. However, saying that, many business just face the struggle to survive – it’s really awful for them.
What top tips do you have while working from home?
Don’t obsessively check the news – make sure you only access it at regular intervals – otherwise you can get overwhelmed by all the messaging.
If you don’t have to self-isolate, make sure you get some fresh air – go for a walk.
Stay in touch with colleagues by using all the social media and tech solutions there are. You can still feel like a team, even remotely.
Remember to brush your hair, or make sure you look OK before doing a video call – I got caught out with that when I realised my hair was standing up on end!
What magazine would you stockpile?
Any of our homes titles – I love them.