The Bullog – September 2022

(Un)equal Opportunities
How far should we take the notion of equal opportunities in the workplace? Are there some jobs that are simply better suited to a woman than a man or vice versa?
More than a few eyebrows were raised when Teeside Council in Scotland appointed Jason Grant, a man in his 30s as their new Period Dignity Officer. It provoked a huge storm on social media where high-profile celebrities such as Tennis Star Martina Navratilova called it “f****** absurd”.  I must confess that when I first read the article I was inclined to think exactly the same. 
I’m absolutely delighted that my native Scotland is the first country in the world to legislate to grant free access to sanitary products in public places through the Period Products Act.  Campaigners have argued that they should be as accessible toilet roll which I think is spot on.  Grant’s role will be to drive an awareness campaign for the new law across schools and colleges and help ensure government funding is allocated effectively.
The job advert asked for a “successful track record of engaging and empowering a large range of people from a diverse range of cultural and socio-economic backgrounds, in particular young people who menstruate”.
But why pick a man for such a role?
The local authority defended its decision by saying that Grant was by far the best qualified candidate for the role and that it was mostly about program management. Critics argue that the role would be far better done by a woman who obviously has more first hand knowledge and experience of the subject. I don’t want to open any cans of worms and am a completely neutral observer in this controversial and fascinating debate.  However, it did make me think whether we should only have male doctors talking to men about testicular cancer and only women doctors talking about breast cancer. Seems absurd.
The broader question for me is whether we, in business, should be hiring based on optics or capabilities.   Here’s an interesting statistic for you: across
the entire US population 14.5% of men are 6ft or taller, yet amongst the Fortune 500 CEOs it is a staggering 58%!  I remember listening to a presentation
by financial trader turned author Michael Lewis, who quoted a similar statistic and drew the conclusion that the US Fortune 500 CEOs who are shorter than average must be extra good because they didn’t get the job simply looking the part – they must be extra good.  He invested in companies with shorter than average height CEOs and made abnormal returns versus the market.  Pretty smart. 
Lewis then went on to extend this philosophy into his bestselling book (and subsequent movie) called Moneyball which applied the same analytics to how baseball teams picked their players.  It charts the story of Oakland A’s coach Billy Beane who bought players who didn’t look the part, saved a fortune on salaries and outperformed far better funded rivals.
I wish Jason Grant the best of luck in his important new role and if nothing else, his controversial appointment may help to drive awareness for this ground breaking new law and help to remove the stigma around women’s menstrual health.
(STOP PRESS: As this edition was about to be sent, news came out that Jason Grant lost his job as Period Dignity Officer and is taking legal action against the local authority for what he terms a “public dismissal”)
Deceleration Update
During the slightly slower summer months, our Craigberoch team have taken the opportunity to take a step back and develop the next generation of the business plan for the business, something we started at our event in June on the Island, described in the July Bullog.  We’ve really been honing in on how our value proposition (to use the jargon term) and how what we offer fits into the emerging new “Future of Work” that everyone seems to be talking about. The pandemic has forced people to reflect not only on why they work and how they work [we know the crazy pass of today’s businesses is completely unsustainable], but also on where they work. Our value proposition plays well to all three of these important questions and how they all fit together. Watch the space for more information.

We are now actively recruiting for our next Decelerator Lab on Bute which will take place from the 7-11th of November.  We’ve already got many sign ups from several large corporations but also public bodies like the NHS will be sending us participants. This will make for a fascinating experience and help break down some of the artificial silos that still exist between the sectors. If you’re interested in finding out more then visit the Craigberoch website and register your interest without any obligation.

Best of the rest……

On the work front, Amelia Parisian, Craigberoch’s Head of Programs and I ran a fun workshop with a global team from a large pharmaceutical company based in Switzerland (I can’t tell you the name]

The team’s core focus is on improving access to medicines in developing countries and the Team Lead had asked us to come in and run a workshop that would help them think out of the box on new ways of doing this. There was also a view that they could improve the way they interact as a globally dispersed team and be more collaborative, creative and develop a better working culture.   

We brought in cast members from the world of Improv, nature meditation, art and a fabulous musician who provided the background music during the day. In the evening we had a fireside chat, discussing topics such as social innovation and intrapreneurship within their business.

I’m delighted to say that the feedback was incredibly positive and the team seemed to get a lot out of it.  Although Craigberoch wants to bring a lot of people to Bute, we can also bring the magic of Bute to office and virtual environments.  So, if you’re interested in doing something similar within your organisation then let’s have a chat!   

In August I also started a new engagement as an advisor to the Schwab Foundation in Geneva, the social enterprise arm of the World Economic Forum. They’re planning to launch a major new intrapreneurship program at Global Intrapreneurship Week on 10-14 October that will involve major corporate supporters such as  We’re working currently on the design but I’ll share more information on the launch event in next month’s Bullog and how aspiring intrapreneurs can submit their ideas.  It should be a cracking event.

On the personal front…….

One of the social highlights of August was attending the Bute Highland Games which takes place on the 3rd weekend of August every year. This year was rather special as it was the 75th anniversary of this event which involves everything from pipe band competitions, highland dancing and the famous tossing of the caber. It’s a great spectacle – especially the march past of the pipe bands down the main high Street at the end of the day. A family friend Iain MacLeod produced a fabulous book commemorating the 75th anniversary and there’s even a picture of yours truly in there when I competed in the team event in 1985. For those of you who read by book, you’ll recall the story in Chapter 3. For those of you haven’t, why not?

Lastly, my partner and I were able to take a few days off and jump in the car and head to the south of France for one of these completely unscripted and emergent holidays. We booked our accommodation on the same day based on where ever the mood took us and found ourselves in the beautiful little town of Cassis not far from Marseille, which boasts amazing coves and fjords. The seafood on the promenade wasn’t too bad either.

OK, that’s more than enough for now folks. If you enjoy this monthly ramble then do feel free to suggest others sign up here.  Until next month,


* The Bullog  = Bulloch + Blog