DEI-ing to be seen: beyond the optics of inclusion

Our next guest is based in Manchester, but we won’t hold that against her. Nosheen Haque is a communications specialist with over 10 years’ experience of working with a variety of brands and organisations using PR and digital marketing to drive engagement, growth and brand value across private and public sectors.

Passionate about communications, engagement and marketing, after graduating from Sheffield Hallam University with a degree in communications studies, Nosheen entered agency land.

Nosheen spent 12 weeks on the A Leader Like Me programme, which she says gave her a sense of community. In this episode, Nosheen goes beyond the buzzwords of diversity to look at how meaningful changes can be implemented in the corporate world, so all employees feel a sense of belonging.

Nosheen Haque

Communications Manager at Westfield Health

Key topics

“My experience has been quite different in each kind of role that I’ve had. I’ve been quite fortunate that I’ve moved around quite a bit because I do love contracts. DEI unfortunately can be used as a bit of a buzzword – it becomes a bit of a tick box exercise where I feel like organisations haven’t really got it right, but then are afraid to if that makes sense.

“It becomes a way of attracting talent, almost because if you’ve got a DEI policy then that looks quite great.

“I worked for an organisation and they were really big on DEI. They had a person in the role kind of really leading it. They would take out a whole week every year where there would be lots of training opportunities for all colleagues.

“I felt like there was too much going on and they weren’t really trying to find out from colleagues, like actual employees within the organisation, what they wanted. That’s really important; you need to be asking your workforce what’s important to them. What kind of activities do they want to see, or participate in?

“In my current role it’s very different. The organisation is just starting out with the DEI journey, but it’s all about just trying to figure out and understand what employees want as well, so I think that’s really important.”

“So for me, it’s really important to be able to feel comfortable to be self patient because that’s who I am.

“That’s my identity.
That’s my culture.

“And unfortunately, sometimes organisations just don’t get it right.”

Nosheen gives the example of Ramadan. She says: “I love to educate my colleagues about what it means because a lot of people don’t know but are open to understanding and listening. So I wrote a blog, but apparently [it didn’t align with the] internal platforms so I wasn’t able to publish it.

“I felt a little disconnected. I thought you’ve got this in your policy. You’ve got this singing and dancing kind of week that you have, but then why are these little things missed out because those kind of things are what essentially make up your policy.

“It’s connecting people, right? It’s talking about different kinds of cultures and also what people do outside of work. It’s not just about what you’re doing at work.”

Nosheen shares an experience of stereotypes harming her early career. She says: “I’ve got friends who’ve gone through similar things, but unfortunately I think when you’re quite junior you don’t really want to raise anything, or rock the boat.

“You’re trying to impress, starting out your career. You’re quite fresh eyed and you know this is going to be great and you don’t actually realise what is happening.

“It actually took somebody else, a colleague – a manager, actually – who could see what was happening and they actually ended up placing me in their team and moving me away from the environment so I was really lucky in that scenario.

“But I’m pretty sure there’s people out there who haven’t had that. Haven’t had somebody pull them out and place them elsewhere, and I feel like if I didn’t have that at that point, my career would not have nourished.

“Look to your support network and try to speak to somebody about it. Don’t just keep it inside. It’s all about talking about it and helping the person to understand why you may have been offended by something that they’ve said, understanding and moving on from that scenario. Sometimes we push things under the carpet and we think we’ll be OK, but if anything I think it impacts your mental well being.

“I had an inner critic at that point in my career so it’s a learning process, isn’t it? And I think it depends at what point you are in your career as well.”

Nosheen has found the CommsHero community uplifting. She says: “I think it’s just so inspiring hearing all of the different stories from the guests that you have in the community.

“We’ve all got a story to tell, and I feel like sometimes there’s a bit of perception that people have just landed a role or it’s just happened. It hasn’t. It’s a journey that everyone’s gone through and no matter what you’re experiencing right now, there’s somebody else also experiencing it or will have done at some point in their career.”

The show notes are the creation of friend of #CommsHero Teela Clayton.


Keep an eye out for Nosheen’s new podcast BTS machine

This episode is sponsored by Blink. The world’s first enterprise app designed exclusively for frontline workers.