It is with a huge amount of joy that I am sharing some exciting news with you. Diverse Minds has won the Best Diversity and Inclusion Podcast at Lynsay Anne Gould’s Podcasting for Business Awards this January. These awards celebrate indie podcasters who are at the heart and soul of the industry. It is an immense pleasure and honour and I am still very much in shock!
Why I started a Diversity and Inclusion Podcast
I remember having a conversation in Spring 2019 with two dear friends, whilst cooking in one of their kitchens, on a trip to Leeds. I was asking their advice about niching my subject expertise or widening my portfolio. In relation to this, a number of my business colleagues were focusing on video and I really didn’t want to! It’s just not the right medium for me and causes me much stress. Audio, on the other hand is a completely different ball game. I spent time as a student radio DJ host and always listen to the radio. As we were talking, my friends agreed, video wasn’t the right medium for me.
There were so many times in my life as a South Asian woman I had felt silenced and not able to speak my truth. I saw this an opportunity for me to express myself in the hope my ideas connected with others, as well as being a catalyst for change.
During this conversation it also transpired that spreading myself too thinly wasn’t a good idea either. I needed to concentrate on the areas of mental health, race equality, culture, and the point where the three come together. As a result we talked about going deep and not wide, and the ways in which podcasts build a more genuine and authentic connection with your audience. This concept resonated with me and felt right. It sowed the seeds for the next steps in my journey.
Starting a Diversity and Inclusion Podcast
Ok, so now what happens? After making the decision, where do I go from here? This is where serendipity stepped in! After the pivotal conversation in Leeds, I was with another friend in a co-working space. We were planning a joint project together and she went to borrow a white board from another area, close to where we were sitting. During our conversation I said “Oh gosh, I really must get my podcast started.” with a sigh.
On returning the white board, a fellow co-worker asked us if we had completed the work we needed to do. We laughed and said yes, sort of. He then asked us what we do and we told him. We then asked him what he does, to which he replied “I help wellbeing experts start podcasts.” Seriously, what on earth were the chances? We both burst out laughing and I explained that we were not being rude. This man was Xavi Umeh, my podcast producer, the person who has been with me from the start.
Planning your Diversity and Inclusion Podcast
There is a lot of information out there about starting podcasts. Many audio specialists say just get out there and go for it. I have to say I disagree and it’s really important to plan a year’s worth of content so it feels less overwhelming. This is what Xavi and I did, we spent a good few hours looking over my previous blog content, awareness days and considered potential guests for 52 episodes. Of course things can change later on, but this reduces podfade and anxiety about what to say. I have found it invaluable having someone to edit episodes too. I don’t feel it’s worth my time doing this myself.
If you want to hear more, you can listen to my podcast episode with Lynsay Anne Gould on her show: Ep 045: The importance of diversity and inclusion in podcasting.
A Podcast in a Pandemic
We know things in life don’t always go to plan! I started my podcast in September 2019 and six months later we were in a national lockdown. In many ways I was lucky, as I had a six month advantage on people who were considering starting a podcast during this time. It really was the content thing for 2020. Much of the content I had planned wasn’t going to work in this new climate. This is where pivoting, flexibility and adaptability are crucial. I changed the content in April and May to cover connection during a pandemic, mental health and resilience and working at home life-balance.
In June 2020 we saw the brutal murder of George Floyd. With it many people beginning to sit-up and listen to the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. I always say BLM is not new. Heartbreakingly, Black Lives Matter is c.600 years old. Race equality has comprised the lion’s share of my professional working life. If you are a listener then you will know that race equality is a topic woven into most episodes, right from day one. I am aware that my lived experience differs to that of my Black, South East Asian, Arab and South American colleagues and friends. However, it felt like now was the time to talk more about my lived experience. Which I did on Episode 41 Racism and Genuine Allyship.
This was a hugely painful and raw episode, but also a positive one as I shared tips and information about what workplaces can do to shift systems and change the status quo. School friends I hadn’t spoken to in years reached out to say sorry, they had no idea. Colleagues shared the episode far and wide. It’s also the episode I submitted for the Podcasting for Business Awards.
What this award means to me
It’s made 2020 and the work I put into the podcast all worth it. Being recognised by judges who don’t know me and were open to listening to my story and what I have to say. As a one-woman business you feel like you juggle so much and at times it’s all up in the air. For me, telling my story is not easy. I find it far easier to put on a professional face. There is always the fear of being laughed at, ridiculed or told your experiences aren’t relevant.
However, what I now know is, we never truly know the impact that our story as or will have on others. We shouldn’t be afraid to use our voice when we are ready to in order to create small ripples of change. It’s not about winning for winning’s sake. More over the fact that I put myself forward, wasn’t scared and know the value of my work.