Pure CEO Louise Parrott-Bates – in Six Questions!

Posted on the 8th March 2021

It is International Women’s Day so today we publish this profile of our Chief Executive Officer Louise Parrott-Bates.

How did you become CEO of Pure Innovations?

I started working for Pure in December 1991. It was a one-year temporary contract, European Social Funded. My role was to work in the day centre (then a large purpose-built building accommodating 100 people with a learning disability) and find jobs for people, to move them out of the centre and into mainstream employment.

It was one of the best jobs I have ever done. It was like watching a butterfly slowly emerge from the chrysalis. People who never believed they could get a job were working, having a laugh with co-workers, getting the bus to work like their peers and generally having a life.

The rest for me is history. Pure is such a fast-moving, innovative organisation. It was so easy to stay and continually be stimulated, challenged and to grow both professionally and personally, it felt like I woke up one day and I was CEO!

What drives you?

I have had some inspirational leaders who have encouraged, invested and believed in me and my abilities. My desire to make a positive difference in people’s lives is what brought me into care in the first instance and that desire has never changed – even though I have.

I’m driven to do the right thing for and by people and learnt to keep it simple. The big things – trendy stuff and vogue initiatives – people forget but how you treated others won’t be forgotten. Kindness and a thank you go a long way. I really don’t take myself too seriously and my deep rooted faith keeps me grounded and focused on what are the really important things in life, not sweating the small stuff!

What does your work entail?

Other than the usual meetings with teams and external partners, I try to spend as much time as I can visiting our projects and chatting to clients and staff.  I will always prioritise meeting them and seeing our new initiatives. They keep me connected and informed of what is happening at Pure and how people are doing.

I never cease to be impressed by the talents of clients and staff,  especially over the last 12 months. Creativity, resilience and agility have been key factors and will continue to be as we build back together.

Louise Parrott-Bates Pure Innovations CEO, dancing with a client.

Pure Innovations CEO enjoys connecting with clients.

How does Pure Innovations champion inclusion?

In very many ways. Many Pure clients have a disability, autism, mental health condition or disorder. Discrimination is not always conscious but subconscious bias is also harmful.

I remember securing jobs for people in the mainstream jobs market in areas such as hospitality and retail. Employers were not always intentionally discriminating against people with a disability when recruiting. They just were not aware that their recruitment practice automatically excluded certain people from applying or applying successfully.  They needed guidance on how to be a good employer, recruiting a diverse range of people with skills and abilities that reflect their customer base.

When you talk to an employer about Learning Disability or Mental Health they don’t always know what it means because they have no experience to call upon and may be influenced by inaccurate negative stereotypes. When we walk with employers through a better recruitment process, they not only become better informed but empowered. They end up with a fantastic employee and  often become our champions in the world of work, keen to recruit again with us.

Have you experienced sex discrimination in your career?

I have been really fortunate in my career in having strong female role models, maybe due the sector I work in. The only sexism I experienced was in my early days (early 90’s) when I secured jobs for people, often liasing with directors and senior managers who in the main were male and could be oppressive, undermining or dismissive. For me, not being heard, ignored or just excluded from conversations and information, was particularly challenging.

I can see a change over the years: increasing visibility of women in senior roles, on boards, in high profile roles on media platforms. These all give positive messages to many young females, informing their career aspirations. As a mum of two young women, I have tried to ensure they aim high in life. Being a women should not be a hinderance in their career choice or aspirations. I have encouraged them to follow their dreams.

Gender should be incidental. Identifying what you’re passionate about and pursuing that should be your focus.

What do you like to do outside work?

Walk-Run-Pray

I just love the outdoors and nature. I am at my most contented walking up hills and appreciating the countryside. The vastness brings a perspective to being.

Family is also a fundamental part of my life and a busy home is the norm for me. There are always arguments about food, cleaning (toilets in particular), and “who has been in my room” “where’s my…..” and “has anyone fed the dog” – along with long, lazy Sunday roasts.

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