Is activism anathema to building a business or accruing wealth? Juliet Scott-Croxford believes social justice values should be front and center for the 21st-century entrepreneur. As Chief Executive of Worth Media, Juliet runs a global media platform that embraces ‘Worth beyond Wealth’ to aid its successful and influential community to be their best selves. We had a fascinating conversation on ProQuo Provokes at the start of a new year that’s already seen a great many cultural shifts - to which Juliet is carefully attuned.
We began with Juliet’s own career, which started as a management consultant at IBM - sealing her early belief in technology which has served her well as she has taken Worth digital. After a stint at Boxwood, she worked as a consultant with Guardian News & Media on its print to digital strategy, in 2012 she was confirmed in a permanent role to lead strategy and operations for the Guardian Media Group’s commercial division based in London. All of this culminated when she joined their executive committee in 2015. As chief delivery officer, Juliet was responsible for the Guardian’s US operation - for which she relocated to New York, which she still calls home. This comprehensive media and technology background allowed her to arrive at Worth poised to take the organisation online. “We are digital-first. Juliet insists this was one of her best decisions: “It wasn't perfect by any means, but I think the quick decision about having a digital platform and making this central was critical.”
Having a primarily digital, nimble platform allowed Worth to take the Forbes and Fortune model and upend it - to show how wealth can be used in the service of, not scale or power or opulence, but for value: “There aren't many media organisations that focus on this sense of impact, purpose, social, psychological and financial capital. We’re deliberately trying to call them a niche, outside of what the traditional publishers set would be.” Additionally, Juliet’s digital success has allowed a tremendous amount of reach and reciprocity that has kept Worth on top of the volatile cultural shifts that have marked the past few years - everything from #MeToo to the Black Lives Matter movement. “We really broadened out our programming and content to speak to not only financial capital, but social and psychological capital. And to ask, what does it mean to lead a life with purpose and leave a positive impact on the world?”
I provoked Juliet on this, by asking whether she actually believed brands could espouse something other than what they are selling. Where does a Gucci wedge fit in the gender gap? Juliet pushed right back. “We recognised that it was actually higher-order questions that our audience were grappling with. Personal wellbeing, psychological and physical health are as important to our business success, wealth creation and business innovation.” Juliet stresses that this innovation is critical to maintaining a space and a platform in a challenging, more diffuse marketplace - and that diversity is not a numbers game, “It's not just a checkbox of do you have a woman on your board, or do you have a person of color or new board? It has to be much more deep rooted than that for us to move forward at pace and scale. And I think some of those quotas help, but when you meet people and leaders that have created diverse leadership teams, they really understand the benefits of it. And it's reflective of your consumer base and more representative of your consumer base.”
This digital focus has also paid dividends during Covid-19: “With the challenges of the pandemic and what it’s done to the business, and the ways the weathering media industry as a whole has been challenged… digital growth has been phenomenal, and the engagement of our community is really encouraging.” However, while going digital and diversifying within those digital platforms has engendered various revenue streams, Juliet believes technology is important, above all, because it keeps her closest to what matters most in Worth’s model: their values. She told me, “Technology has been significant and critical in finding out who our communities are and how we learn more about them - how do we deepen the relationship with them so that we can serve more relevant content and programming in the future?”