Welcome to So You Want My Job? Each week we ask the people working in some of the industry’s coolest roles about how they got where they are. Along the way, we dig into their philosophies, inspirations, processes and experiences. Hopefully our interviewees can inspire you to pursue (or create) a job that’s just as exciting.
This week, Ridhi Radia, diversity and inclusion manager, Immediate Media, talks us through her career.
What did you want to be when you grew up? Does your job now resemble that in any way?
I know what I wanted to be when I grew up. I didn’t know anything about publishing growing up in India, and I certainly didn’t expect to find myself in a D&I role. I lived in a small town where you didn’t really see English magazines.
I only had access to the newspapers that my parents read. So, when I moved to the UK at 15, the variety of magazines available became my lifeline. They were my go-to for understanding and building my knowledge of western culture. I remember buying every magazine I could get my hands on, drowning myself in fashion and pop culture. Diving into this world of news served me well when I started a PR internship at IPC.
How did you get your job? Tell us the full long story. Did you take an unusual route there or was it pretty standard?
I originally planned on pursuing an advertising or marketing role when I left university so I applied for a marketing internship at IPC. On my first day, I sat down at my induction, and after a little while I realized that it was actually a PR internship. I didn’t tell anyone because it turned out I loved it.
Fast forward a few years and I found my way to Immediate in a PR role, which I loved, but when the Black Lives Matter marches in the summer of 2020 were happening everything changed for me.
I began reflecting on the industry, work, my personal life and my own experiences, and sent an email to our HR director, pouring my passion and concern into it. It was at that moment they recognized the passion I had, listened to me and gave me the space to make changes at Immediate. I wasn’t really sure that I wanted to do the role full-time because PR was my safety blanket, so I took it on as a secondment. However, it didn’t take me long to hit the ground running and realize that I had a new purpose at Immediate, so I swiftly took up the role of their D&I manager permanently.
OK, so what do you actually do? How would you explain your job to a taxi driver?
As Immediate’s diversity and inclusion manager, I am responsible for ensuring that Immediate invests in D&I development, not only to provide its people with the tools and understanding to view every decision, piece of work and conversation inside and outside of the company with inclusion in mind, but to also create a culture that supports, understands and champions all perspectives.
From leading a D&I audit to examining where we are and benchmarking where we need to be, to introducing our employee networks and training programs, over the last year I have been busy pushing Immediate’s D&I strategy forward. The difficulty and beauty of my role is that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution and it’s impossible for me to be ‘done.’ Nobody will ever completely crack it.
Do your parents understand what it is that you do?
Not really. They are definitely on a learning journey with me as well. But they understand my passion to make strides at Immediate and the wider industry, helping make it far more diverse and inclusive – including what we see on our pages and websites, and all our content.
What do you love most about your job?
Nowadays, it’s the feeling that I could be making a real difference and that’s incredibly rewarding. I feel very passionate about what I do because it’s about people and making their lives better at work. Helping create initiatives that I know could’ve really helped me and seeing them come to fruition and empower people is fantastic, and I’m incredibly fortunate to be leading the way in this space at Immediate.
How would someone entering the industry go about getting your job now? What would be their route?
I’d say that the key is having patience and passion. Understanding that changes in D&I won’t come overnight, but it’s just as much about the journey at the moment as the destination. Therefore, the ability to be adaptable is crucial, as is being able to respond to people and their needs practically and objectively – which can be hard sometimes when you’re dealing with emotional issues.
It’s also important to be open to learning about all the intersectionalities of D&I. There is sometimes pressure in feeling like you need to know everything but that will never be the case, so facilitating the right conversations and asking the right questions is essential. Everyone’s story is different. But it’s a fascinating time as we adapt in approaches, language and behaviors.
What advice would you offer to others entering the advertising/media industry, especially at this weird time?
Enjoy learning and never stop – professional development enables you to grow with the role and helps you stay adaptable and diplomatic. And for those finding themselves in a D&I role within the industry, measurement is your best friend. It can be overwhelming looking at the entire picture, but having tangible data to spot the holes will make it much easier to come up with a plan to plug those gaps.
What would you say is the trait that best suits you for your role?
One of my strongest attributions is my adaptability and I think that comes from having to adapt at a young age to moving to a new country, attending new schools and learning a new language quickly. My career in PR allowed me to realize the importance of making good connections and being good at communicating, so having these skills in my role as D&I manager has been incredibly helpful. My entire job now is about connecting with people’s experiences and helping them communicate them to each other and the business.
Who should those who want your job read or listen to?
Definitely Nova Reid’s book The Good Ally on learning to be comfortable with being uncomfortable and becoming a better ally to those experiencing racism. There are also many brilliant Ted talks all about the topic of D&I and how to be a more inclusive employer and colleague – it’s really vital to spend time listening and learning in order to be able to support people properly. I also want to give a shoutout to ED&I expert Dr Joanna Abeyie, who has helped us really make waves at Immediate. She has also been an exceptional mentor to me and her advice has been invaluable in helping me shape the trajectory Immediate is on.