The use of promotion girls has been somewhat of a tradition in British sport, particularly in male dominated sports, begging the question – is the use of promotional girls sexist or harmless?

A leading voice campaigning for gender equality in sport, The Women’s Sport Trust called for the end of female models across the world of sport, which led to a landmark decision to ban ‘walk-on girls’ in darts. 

This decision has arguably applied pressure to agencies and large organisations to come forward on their stance on the use of promotion girls as a wider conversation. 

After visiting Phoenix Staffing – an agency that provides promotional staff – I was able to see what the company has done to create a culture that empowers women, rather than devalues them. 

 

Ecommpay exhibition at Excel with Event Hostesses Tamara Rezvova, Ayesha Reid, Alice porter and Vaiva Mensikova.

Nine years ago, the company started out as Pout Promotions but as they began to evolve as a company and grow past what that stood for, they went through a complete rebranding that led to them becoming Phoenix Staffing.

CEO Sarah Moxom said, “It was about adding a further layer to the business and really understanding what that looked like. We wanted to embrace an all-encompassing company culture that empowered women in the industry.”

The world Cup event at The Comedy, with VIP Hostesses/Waitresses Emily Cooney, Kalisha Johnson, Diana Liasuk and Aleah Baxter.

After the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) confirmed that women will no longer escort male players to the stage, the Women’s Sport Trust, has now called on other sports to follow suit. 

This led to Formula 1 banning grid girls from the sport – leaving many women out of work. Formula 1’s, commercial operations director Sean Bratches said the custom of using grid girls, “Does not resonate with [the] brand values [of F1] and clearly is at odds with modern day societal norms.”

“We don’t believe the practice is appropriate or relevant to Formula 1 and its fans, old and new, across the world,” he added.

The banning of promotion girls in sport has led to a wider discussion on promotion staff becoming a discussion topic on show Good Morning Britain.

BBC Food show Kensington Olypmia, Wagyu Beef Japan exhibition with Hostesses Kristine Berget, Eden Tradwell, Violeta Silva and Vaiva Mensikova.

I was able to discuss with Sarah Moxom how she works with clients and manages expectations of her staffers. I was also able to catch up with some of the long standing staff members, to ask them why they choose Phoenix.

It’s important that both narratives are brought to light and that agencies are setting themselves apart to debunk some of the myths and stigma around the use of promotion girls.

The V Show in Kensington Olympia Nutristrength exhibition with Hostesses Helena Hilgers and Rianna Ash.

When I spoke to Sarah on how she feels towards recent scandals that have come out in the industry she was able to highlight how Phoenix aim to be a positive change in the industry and really unpack what that looks like, based on the ever-growing company culture. 

She said, “Many of our initiatives were put in place before the mainstream media really highlighted the issues, but it’s really affirmed the importance of those initiatives.

“One of the biggest criticisms agencies get is treating people like a number and not caring about the one. We believe so strongly in caring about the one that we have almost jeopardised profits in order to do so.” 

Phoenix ensure that girls have complete autonomy over their shifts, the ability to feedback on clients and their experience – refusing to take on any job briefs where racism or sexism is apparent and does not allow requests that objectify women. 

If contractors have ever been mistreated or handled unfairly then the situation is escalated and taken very seriously. This has even led to the decision to not partner with people going forward. 

One of Phoenix’s longer standing staff members Vicky Spooner said, “I love that Phoenix is really community based. They really do care about how people feel and where people are headed and there’s real mentorship in the company.”

Cargo Shoreditch, Upselling Shot waitresses Victoria Spooner, Amy Caeiro and Jazmin Print.

What makes Phoenix be the change in the industry is in the way that they recruit and train their staff, as well as the way they develop their existing staff. 

Empowerment and wellbeing is at the core strategy of the business, building a platform for growth with the use of mentorship programmes and buddying system in place to ease staff into the process. They provide group training and personally screen every staffer they take on-board. 

What is apparent is that achievements are celebrated throughout the company with rewards and initiatives – including work days out for staffers of the month. 

Not only is it important to empower your staff but to also present yourself as a company that is willing to give back.  Phoenix staffing are in partnerships with iWin, a female empowerment event, as well as Cheers for Cheer, who identify small projects within communities in the UK, South America and Africa and A21, a non-profit organization with a mission to end slavery.

Staffer Vicky Spooner went on to say, “All of us are thinking, how can I make more of an impact whether we are in working hours or not? I think that is what keeps Phoenix an around the clock agency.”

A21 Walk for Freedom – CEO Sarah Moxom and the team

CEO Sarah Moxom added, “As an agency we are passionate about making an impact in the world. Some people laugh at that because they’re like well you’re shot girls or promo girls or whatever that is, but we believe that in anything that you do it’s not just about what you do, but the moment that you make for yourself. It’s about the legacy that you leave behind.

 “Beyond the finance that is created, we actually love to create a family and a culture and so for us, that is what the Phoenix family is about.”

The Vinyl Bar VIP Hostesses Alexandra Cella, Yasmin Olajide, Kamila Kostka, Ieva Butkute and Bethany Henshaw.

Phoenix Staffing will now also be enabling a donation function on their card machines with two charities that they have partnered up with, A21 and Cheers for Cheer. The potential money to be raised can make a huge impact on the charities they have chosen to partner with.

 

Author, Kelly Whybrow