Mark Fletcher, CEO of Manchester Pride is one of AMAGAZINE’s 10 Most Influential Mancunians. Here he talks about his career journey and the future of our city.
“The working world is now much more focussed on the support and wellbeing of employees…organisations are now, thankfully, taking the necessary steps toward promoting inclusion, equality and diversity in the workplace.”
What makes Manchester a great place to live and work in 2018?
The people of Manchester make it a great place to live and work. There is something truly unique about the sense of place created by the people of Greater Manchester. Whether born and bred or adopted by the city, the passion, warmth and spirit of our people makes Manchester a stand out city in my eyes.
Why do you think so many businesses have chosen Manchester as their central hub?
Manchester has excellent transport links to all major cities in the UK and also acts as a gateway to the rest of the world. Add to this the rich heritage, culture, diversity and creative boiling pot of the city centre and it becomes clear why Manchester is a great location for a central hub.
What do you think Manchester needs to raise its profile on the international scene?
I think Manchester has an ever-growing profile on the international scene. The city is famed for music, sport, fashion and equality. We need to strive to continue to showcase our exports, homegrown talents and world firsts. From a tourism perspective, I feel that we need to be clear about our identity and support the organisations and businesses within the region that help to shape and define the clear offerings of the city. I’m keen to support this focus.
What does Manchester need in terms of new talent coming through?
Whilst I believe there is plenty of talent in Manchester, I feel that we as a community have a great responsibility to increase the skills level for our workforces. It’s brilliant that the city attracts individuals with desired skills from throughout the UK and internationally. However, there should always be a clear commitment to offer skills training to Mancunians wishing to enter skilled employment.
What are the essential qualities that people must have to be a part of your business?
To join our charity, you need to display passion, commitment, positive energy and a great sense of team spirit. A sense of humour also helps…we’re quite a small team and when the pressure is on I find it’s important to be able to have a laugh, even if it’s only at yourself!
How has the working world changed from when you started your career compared to now and how have these changes affected your industry?
The working world is now much more focussed on the support and wellbeing of employees. When I started my career employee wellbeing barely existed as a concept. Due to the nature of the work of Manchester Pride I guess I should focus on how organisations are now, thankfully, taking the necessary steps toward promoting inclusion, equality and diversity in the workplace. This is greatly affecting our industry, we are seeing the promotion of equality being understood and implemented by organisations that previously seemed to think that simply having a policy document meant that they were “doing their bit”. Organisations are now actively promoting inclusion and diversity. Since we announced the imminent introduction of the Inclusion & Equality charter that we’re developing at Manchester Pride, it’s been brilliant to see how many organisations both large and small have expressed an interest in signing up. When I started my career I never expected that I would be championing the first large-scale LGBT+ inclusion & equality charter, I certainly didn’t expect that the working world would be so passionately engaged in supporting such an initiative. Change is good.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve overcome in your career?
I’ve always been an ambitious, focused and driven individual. My youth, ambition and appearance has worked against me in the past. My youth has long since faded! However, I have experienced many different prejudices, some that you just wouldn’t expect. I’ve learned, sometimes others simply feel that your face just doesn’t fit. One of the greatest challenges I have had to overcome in my current role is to gain the trust and support of our stakeholders. When I stepped into my role the charity was not in a good place. Many people were disengaged, disheartened and disappointed with the diminishing funds and impacts of the charity. I had to work hard to gain the trust and support of stakeholders. I’m pleased and proud that the implementation of my strategy has seen us step out as one of the largest and most important LGBT+ charities in the UK which now achieves incredible impacts and is making real, positive changes to the lives of LGBT+ people and our allies in Greater Manchester and beyond. I’ve always enjoyed facing a challenge, even those which have beaten me.
What would you say to people who feel they haven’t ‘made it’ yet?
I’d ask them what their idea of “making it” is. Today, my idea of “making it” means something altogether different to me than it did 10, or even 5 years ago. I now believe that success is subjective. I think it should be measured only by ourselves as individuals set against personal goals. It should not be measured against the perceived success of others. For anybody who feels that they’re not yet where they would like to be, I guess it would be useful to remind yourself that it pays to be tenacious. The rewards of hard work seldom fail to materialise, although they may not always be immediately recognisable.
In what ways would you like to see Manchester businesses giving back to their city and community?
I’d love to see all businesses tuned in to the issues that still plague the city. I believe that collectively, businesses can force social change where it’s needed. Issues close to my heart that I’d like to see businesses supporting are hate crimes and discrimination, and homelessness. Beyond this, we all need to ensure that we look closely into the areas that need to be addressed and then act to support them: reinvestment, training, nurturing talent and inspiring the next generation to further innovate and support the region as one of the most important in Europe.
What industries do you think will be booming in Manchester over the next 5 years?
Leisure, fashion and tech would be the obvious choices. However, I feel that many people often overlook the presence of service providers such as financial, legal, and consumer. I predict the continued growth of organisations choosing Manchester as their central hub.
‘10 Most Influential Mancunians’ sees some of Manchester’s most inspiring professionals talk about the future of our city and share their career journeys. If you’d like to get involved with 2019’s ‘10 Most Influential Mancunians’, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.