“Don’t be bullied and intimidated”: Jarrold boss’ rallying cry over equality in the workplace
PUBLISHED: 06:00 21 March 2020 | UPDATED: 11:02 24 March 2020
“Call it, because it’s not okay to be bullied, intimidated and have people use their power against you.”
That was the rallying cry from the boss of Norwich’s most well-known department store Jarrold today during a wide ranging interview with this newspaper.
Speaking to editor David Powles for his latest Big Interview podcast, Minnie Moll told of her own experiences of bullying managers and inequality in the workplace, including the time she worked for disgraced BHS boss Philip Green.
Ms Moll also gave her prediction for the future of the high street in Norwich, of the child sexual abuse she received as a child and why she’s pleased she chose to speak out about it.
The former East Of England Co-Op joint boss said that while inequality in the workplace had improved, there was still a long way to go.
She added: “You learn from your bad bosses and boy did I have a few bad, arrogant bosses, especially in advertising, an industry that’s renowned for it. I learned a lot from them about how not to behave. There are two particular men I learned a lot of resilience from, two very challenging men, Lord Tim Bell, who was Margaret Thatcher’s advisor, and Philip Green, as in BHS.
“I’ve got stories I could tell from both of them. With the latter it’s being in meetings and seeing people reduced to tears. I would sit in a meeting with my face prickling, thinking ‘I think I’m about to cry’.
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“We’ve still got a lot to do to sort out equality in the workplace for women, but boy has it got better. I think I was really too fearful then and my counsel to younger women today, call it. Really call it, because it’s not okay and it’s not acceptable. And thank goodness, with the Me Too movement, I think a lot more people are calling it. And they need to keep doing it because it’s not okay to be bullied, intimidated and have people use their power against you.”
Ms Moll was appointed chief executive of Jarrold Retail, which this year celebrates its 250th birthday, in 2018 and says the store continues to ‘buck the trend’, adding: “Our sales last year were up against the previous year and, in a tough retail environment, we’re really proud of that. Not complacent because there’s still a lot of challenges. What we’re already doing is making Jarrold a lot more experiential. You go in today and we’ve got six restaurants, beauty specialists who will give you one to one attention, hairdressers. We’re going to keep on building on these.”
On the future of the high street in Norwich in general she said: “Sadly I believe that there will be more casualties this year. I think that there is going to be contraction. We will have a fabulous, thriving centre but maybe the outside of that will be where some of the stores close.
“This is where the strong stores that are moving and changing and exceeding customers needs will still thrive.”
Ms Moll, who lives in Suffolk close to the border with Norfolk and was previously marketing director of Notcutts Garden Centres, is also the first Ambassador for Fresh Start – New Beginnings, the East Anglian charity supporting child victims of sexual abuse. She took up the role after deciding to open up about her own abuse.
She explained: “I was sexually abused as a child (by a man who lived with her family on their barge) from when I was eight to about 11 so I know first-hand the impact that has. The child ends up with so much shame, blame and guilt and that is so corrosive. He did all of the things, treats, sweets, ‘our little secret’ and in the end I ended up in hospital and they didn’t know what it was because of course I wouldn’t tell. I didn’t tell up to when he died and I didn’t tell after he died because I felt it would just be so hurtful for my parents.
“I didn’t tell until I was in my 20s. I was at Notcutts and Fresh Start New Beginnings approached us for support. It was in meeting them and hearing how hard they were finding it to fund-raise, because people feel uncomfortable about talking about it, I had an epiphany moment and thought ‘I will’. I thought ‘if it helps one single person’, so I did it.
“It ultimately felt quite cathartic.”
To listen to the podcast and previous interviews search ‘EDP Big Interview’ on audioboom.com