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My Influences: Gemma McCall, CEO and co-founder, Culture Shift


Gemma McCall is CEO and co-founder of tech for good developer Culture Shift.

Based in Manchester, McCall founded the business after experiencing maternity discrimination not once, but twice, and has made it her mission to eradicate discrimination and harassment of any kind in workplaces and educational institutions.

Culture Shift is an impact software business that exists to lead a positive change in organisational culture. Its proprietary online reporting platform gives organisations the insight they need to monitor and prevent bullying and harassment in educational institutions and workplaces.

Here, she shares her top three influences.


The person that has inspired my working career the most, and why

When I was a child, my dad started his own business and at the time I don’t remember being particularly inspired (sorry dad!). But, when I look back, I do think this has majorly impacted my working career. Seeing my dad become a successful business owner was core to my realisation that I could start my own business.

To see him decide that he wasn’t happy in his job at the time and start his entrepreneurial journey to owning his own business must have made a mark on me, as that’s exactly what happened when I set up Culture Shift. More recently, I have been inspired by British politician and solicitor, Harriet Harman. She has served as a member of parliament for Camberwell and Peckham since 1982 and has campaigned tirelessly for women’s rights throughout her career.

She also brought forward the Equality Bill, now the Equality Act 2010, which is one of the most important pieces of legislation to promote equality to date.

The place that has inspired my working career the most, and why

It has to be Manchester! The number of changemakers in and around this city is incredible – and they really do inspire me every day. Manchester is a real city of change and evolution. It’s the birthplace of the suffragette movement – the most iconic women’s rights movement in the UK, in my opinion the world, to date.

And more recently, Manchester has become one of the fastest growing tech hubs in Europe, with thousands of start-ups setting up here knowing they’re in an environment they can thrive outside the capital.

You would struggle to not be inspired by Manchester if you’re in the tech industry, with the first computer being invented at the University of Manchester, building on the incredible work by Alan Turing, otherwise known as ‘the father of modern computing.’ It’s quite literally built into Manchester’s DNA to effect change, and the energy from Manchester shouldn’t be underestimated.

The thing that has inspired my working career the most, and why

During both of my pregnancies I faced maternity discrimination at work, so this will always be a part of my journey and ultimately what led to me setting up Culture Shift.

These experiences drove me to want to make the workplace better for my kids, as I wouldn’t want either of them to have to face any sort of bullying, harassment or discrimination. I want my daughter to live in a world where she doesn’t feel like she has to be treated differently because she’s a woman. And I don’t want my son to grow up and see toxic masculinity and think that he needs to ‘live up to a certain idea’ of what makes a man.

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