The Telegraph: The Importance of Black Role Models in the Workplace


The Importance of Black Role Models in the Workplace for The Telegraph's Shopping Editor, Krissy Turner.


Krissy Turner - Shopping Editor, The Telegraph


"I think you have to know your worth and actively behave like you do. In such spaces, it’s easy to be made to feel ‘grateful’ you’re there in the first place, which is ridiculous. You worked hard, were great at your job, and earned your place."


BYP: Please describe your journey into your current role?

Krissy Turner: Anyone au fait with the fashion industry will know that unless your dad’s golfing buddy is the publisher, you’re going to have to do a lot of interning before you get a job. I interned for about 18 months after I graduated with my degree in Journalism, and I was only able to do that as my family home is in London. It’s all about who you know and the impressions you make, so once I had a few internships under my belt (I cold-emailed dozens of publications a week to get my first), I began to get
recommended for others, eventually working up to a full-time paid internship contract. My first permanent position came up at The Telegraph after someone on the team
left: I had interned with the team 8 months prior, so I applied and got the job. I’ve been there for five and a half years now and was promoted to the editor about
halfway through.

BYP: What are the three biggest challenges you faced navigating your career to date?

Krissy Turner: Oh, where do I start? The first was working for free. Being on expenses-only internships prior to The Telegraph meant I couldn’t contribute at home or save, and that wasn’t a great feeling, especially when lots of my university friends were joining well-paid industries like Banking and Tech. The second was the sheer lack of opportunity. Before joining the Telegraph, I had been told outright by a Fashion Director that I was the best assistant she’d ever known but she still couldn’t offer me a job as there just wasn’t one to offer up. It was hard to believe that was truly the case at that point, but the sad truth is that it happens quite often in the fashion industry.
Lastly, I haven’t ever worked on a fashion team with another black or mixed black person, and up until recently, with a person of colour at all. Navigating an overwhelmingly white and middle-class space when you’re anything but, is tough.


BYP: How did you overcome those challenges?

Krissy Turner: I had a part-time job in retail that I worked nearly every hour I wasn’t at my internships. As hard as that was, it meant I could survive until I had that elusive
permanent role. I’m quite stubborn, and I knew a job would have to open up at some point, so I kept making contacts and taking on extra work so that when a job came up, I’d have a good chance at being recommended for it. I’m lucky to be able to say that my parents prepared me well for this. I also know that by feeling uncomfortable every now and then, I’m sort of ensuring the next ‘me’ that enters that space won’t have to. The older and more senior I’ve got, the more confident I’ve felt in speaking up and actively making change, which has also helped.


BYP: Explain the three biggest highlights/milestones of your career

Krissy Turner: I have a fortnightly fashion column in the newspaper which has been running for nearly five years, and it’s a pinch-me moment every time I spot it in print. Column inches are valuable real estate, so I’ve been really proud to have a successful one for so long.

Secondly, I’m a founding member of the Fashion Minority Alliance and work on the Media board which is really fulfilling. I’ve never wanted to ‘make it’ alone, and want our industry to be as inclusive as possible so it’s a dream to be involved in ensuring that finally happens.

Lastly, I hosted a talk with the award-winning journalist Dr. Ateh Jewel for a live Telegraph event, and we discussed representation across fashion and beauty in
media. I’m typically quite shy, so as much as I’m proud of the important conversation we had, I was secretly so impressed that I didn’t bottle it, and it’s meant I’ve had the
confidence to take part in lots of other panels since.


BYP: What advice would you give to someone dealing with imposter syndrome?

Krissy Turner: Some form of doubt is completely normal, but if you see your responsibilities as a service you’re offering to the business that only you can do, you’ll believe your own hype a bit more. The second would be to recognise that a lot more people than you probably realise are battling this too, which should hopefully dismantle your own insecurity a little as more often than not it means it’s somewhat a level playing field.


BYP: How important is Black role model visibility within the workplace?

Krissy Turner: It’s completely underrated and hugely important. It works in exactly the same way as representation in anything from advertising to media in that ‘you can’t be what you can’t see.’ If I see that I have no line managers or department heads that look like me, it’s demotivating. It cements my internal thought that I’ll have to work twice as hard as everyone else since I’ll be the first to get to that position. The fact that it’s 2021 and I could be the first mixed black person to get there is doubly heartbreaking. For those in junior positions for whom this is the case, having role models at work gives them the confidence to speak up knowing there’s someone with power that understands their viewpoint and a position to aspire to.

I’m on the committee of the ethnic and cultural diversity employee network, BE ME, which works with The Telegraph Media Group to help make the workplace more inclusive for our ethnically diverse employees. D& I-specific initiatives like this are a good start to improving Black role model visibility in the workplace, however, it’s an ongoing process and there’s much more to do.


BYP: What advice would you give to those who are currently navigating homogenous workspaces?

Krissy Turner: I think you have to know your worth and actively behave like you do. In such spaces, it’s easy to be made to feel ‘grateful’ you’re there in the first place, which is ridiculous. You worked hard, were great at your job, and earned your place. Personally, once I stopped trying to blend in - because ultimately I was always going to stand out in this industry since just 0.2% of UK journalists are black - I’ve actually had a much better time. Encouraging enthusiastic colleagues to become ‘allies’ will help, too.


BYP: Our mission at BYP is to change the Black narrative, what does changing the Black narrative look like to you?

Krissy Turner: For an industry that represents the UK, journalism just shouldn’t be a homogenous space. For me, having a workforce that properly represents the UK is a must, both in optics and behind the scenes in the companies. Telegraph Media Group (TMG) is committed to Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging and undertakes a number of activities to improve Black role model visibility in the workplace. TMG has partnerships with a number of D&I-specific organisations such as BYP Network to attract Black talent to apply for roles, while also providing in-house D&I initiatives.


To learn more about Telegraph Media Group or to apply for their available roles please visit their BYP jobs board here.

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