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‘Work in diversity is never done.’

How News UK’s diversity strategy is changing the narrative and creating change

Briony Hughes

HR Director and Diversity & Inclusion Lead at News UK

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In 2020 News UK launched its first diversity strategy. The strategy was built on the foundations of a company-wide conversation on inclusion, and underpinned by a detailed diversity demographic survey undertaken across all employees in 2019, providing the data crucial to informing our work. Our work started with a question from an employee about what we were doing to attract Black, Asian and minority ethnic employees. As the answer was, “not a lot”, we knew we had work to do.

Despite Covid-19 delaying us slightly, we worked with Creative Equals, who facilitated sessions with our Diversity Board and used our company data to co-create our strategy. We recognised that we needed to focus on increasing the representation of women and ethnic minorities, so we set targets for 50:50 gender parity and 20% ethnic minority representation at all levels. We were tracking at 36% and 7% respectively, so we knew we had work to do.

Our diversity strategy has three pillars:

  1. Recruitment
  2. Leadership
  3. Inclusive products

We now have someone dedicated to each pillar, and have built a small diversity team according to business needs, who each have built successful networks across our business, creating many more advocates and ambassadors for this mission. Having worked on diversity since 2018 as part of my day job as an HR Director, I was very aware that we needed to have people who lived and breathed diversity everyday and weren’t trying to also complete the day job. We have had great success with promoting our internal talent into these new roles. Our business is quite unique and understanding it and having a passion for our content is key. We have a team with backgrounds in journalism, creative, marketing and HR.

Moving the dial and measuring progress

So, what have we achieved in the 18 months since we launched our strategy? We have increased our female representation to 40% and ethnic minorities to 10%, but there is still a lot of work to do to meet our targets. We have welcomed 100 kickstart interns and apprentices who come from diverse backgrounds. In doing so, our gender pay gap has increased slightly, but this is OK, as we are taking the steps to build our future diversity and we won’t solve everything immediately. We have also stopped using the acronym, BAME, in all our products and ahead of our competitors. We have created eight new employee networks, giving us a total of 11. We have launched a menopause policy which provides support and education and we reimburse employees for the cost of HRT. We have also created content with the business, including the award-winning Virgin Radio Pride and the Black Pound Report.

Work in diversity is never done. It adapts to the changing requirements of the business and society. In 2022, whilst we continue to work towards our targets, we will also be reviewing our policies and the accessibility of our buildings and our products. We will be developing outreach for schools and colleges, to encourage more young people to pursue a career in media and building on the number of apprentices and interns we already have in the business. Virgin Radio Pride will be relaunching as a pop up for the Pride season again as we look to diversify our products further.

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Guest Author

Briony Hughes

HR Director and Diversity & Inclusion Lead at News UK

About

Briony is HR Director and Diversity & Inclusion Lead at News UK. News UK is one of the leading media businesses in the UK and Ireland, their newsbrands include The Times, The Sunday Times, The Sun, The Sun on Sunday and The TLS. Their national broadcast brands include talkSPORT, Times Radio, talkRADIO and Virgin Radio, and they have market-leading local radio stations across Ireland. In 2022 News UK will launch TalkTV, a major new TV channel. Briony joined News UK in 2011 and leads a team of HR Business Partners and partners the Executive team. Prior to that Briony worked in various HR roles for Waterstones and HMV. In addition to her role as HR Director, Briony is also the Diversity & Inclusion lead, spearheading a major D&I strategy launch in 2020. The strategy has three pillars: a recruitment and development strategy for people from diverse backgrounds; a pathway to 50/50/20 (men, women and ethnic minorities) workforce; and a drive to cultural diversity is reflected across the brands. Briony is a mum to two primary aged children and lives in Essex.

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