My D&I Journey with:
Dr Julie Humphreys,
Group Head of Diversity and Inclusion,
1. What was your journey into diversity and inclusion?
I come from a HR background, and whilst I no longer sit in HR (D&I is its own function at Reach), I remain a proud member of the HR community. D&I was rarely talked about in the early stages of my career, instead we focused on ‘equal opportunities’ and much of my time was spent on this before it became a real profession. When I remember the difficulties of the issues being taken seriously, it feels like we’ve come a long way, but we have even further to go.
2. How would you describe a typical day in your role?
Reach is the UK largest publisher – we own national titles such as the Mirror, the Express, the People, the Daily Star and OK! Plus regional titles such as Manchester Evening News and Liverpool Echo. We have a responsibility to reflect the diverse communities we serve and I love bringing that to life.
A typical day was yesterday; we started with a press release launching our Black History is Our History campaign, led by the Mirror to change the school curriculum to include Black history in all schools. Next was a meeting of the Editorial Inclusion Board, which is a new group we started to oversee and direct all inclusion work related to our content. After I put the finishing touches to our new podcast, which I co-host with Natasha Whitehurst, ‘D&I Spy, Inclusion Uncovered’. You can find it on your favourite pod platform! We’ve just finished recording season 1, with guests such as Dame Kelly Holmes talking about important issues of the day such as banter and bias. I then met with our Head of Recruitment to talk about our new campaign to hire a team of reporters to cover the Womens Super League. And finally I finalised my Board report in preparation for our next Reach plc Board meeting next week.
3. What is the best part of your job?
Because D&I is a separate function, reporting directly to the CEO, the autonomy that allows is the best part of my job. It’s also the scariest as there’s nowhere to hide! I love how we, as a company, are transforming the media landscape and that inclusion is at the heart of that. I also love the collaboration. I’ve brought together an incredibly powerful group of people across the industry, all leading D&I. We’re called Mobilise and we work together to achieve change. We share ideas and best practice and also collaborate on joint projects. We’re currently looking at developing an industry wide Disability Passport scheme.
4. What advice would you give to someone looking to move into D&I?
My advice would be to go into D&I with your eyes open. It’s hard work, there are knock backs and you’re often faced with barriers. You need resilience. Find a buddy in the D&I space, someone to listen to you and for you to bounce ideas off. D&I can be a lonely place in an organisation, so develop your own network. Finally have fun! Although its hard – when you see those small changes (and if you’re lucky, the big ones), across your organisation take the moment to really appreciate it.
5. What are the main challenges faced by D&I professionals at the moment?
Diversity fatigue is real at the moment. We’ve dedicated a whole ‘D&I Spy: Inclusion Uncovered’ podcast episode to this topic. People are feeling bombarded and coming out of lockdowns, covid and now we have the cost of living crisis. As a function we have to adapt, but remain true to our core that inclusion is for everyone.
6. Name three skills that support you to succeed in D&I
1.) Collaboration – for the day work that you do, but also for your own sanity.
2.) Managing upwards – you have to bring senior leaders on the journey with you.
3.) Appetite to learn – the world we are in changes constantly, I love making time to hear about new research, case studies and
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