Last week, I finally felt that I was able to break through a glass ceiling that I had felt under for so long when I did my first TV report for STV news. It was deemed to have been the first time a hijab-wearing TV reporter anchored a news report in Scotland. I faced many challenges and barriers over the years trying to transition into broadcast as a freelance journalist.
Whilst the majority of people have been extremely supportive, I have also experienced being told by someone I networked with in the industry to compromise my identity if you want to progress and that I had all the skills and potential but didn’t really have the right ‘look’ in hijab. I refused to compromise my identity to get ahead and carried on persevering. I was at a point where I didn’t really know how best to move forward and decided the only thing I could do was to either keep trying or stay in the space of the industry that I was already in. It was then that I contacted STV News with a story and they were fantastic and took me on based purely on the story and ability to do the job.
Since sharing my experience, I have been contacted by many people in the media industry all over the UK and even globally telling me about their own challenges and experiences which they had faced.
One lady who wishes to remain anonymous said “ I can totally relate to the barriers we have to face as people of colour. I have not been able to even get a job within the media in Scotland. As a black woman its really damaging seeing zero representation here on TV. I’m so happy to see this and have given us all hope for the future”.
Preeti (name changed on request) said, “ I totally know the hidden discrimination that goes on in the workplace which stops us from getting to a higher level. We have to keep quiet or risk losing everything we have. When you express an interest in getting into a certain space you get dismissed and shutdown.”
Another woman told me, “ I have a disability and have found it difficult getting into presenting. It’s something I really would like to do but not given any chances”.
I have been inundated with messages from people in the UK and have started a campaign calling for better representation in the UK media which reflects the national portrait of this country. I want to help others and want everyone to feel that they can succeed and not be held back because of issues to do with race, faith, gender, disability or any other factor. I know there are a lot of broadcasters who are investing in diversity and inclusion initiatives and have already taken action to facilitate better representation but there is still a lot more work that needs to be done.
This campaign calls for better representation in the UK media which reflects the national portrait of this country and calls for actionable change.