Rebecca Heredia’s career in media and entertainment took years of hard work to achieve, including plenty of rejections and more than a dozen interviews before getting her first job in the industry.
Now that she’s Director of Human Resources for Comcast NBCUniversal APAC, working to support a workforce made up of other women who’ve also fought to get to where they are, she’s determined to ensure they have the best possible workplace policies available to give talent the opportunity to thrive.
Heredia made her way into the industry after initially working in tech, and having put aside her childhood dreams of being “part of the storytelling” business of movie-making and television. The daughter of working-class, immigrant parents, Heredia says her good-intentioned mother simply believed working in media and entertainment would be impossible for her daughter.
After studying commerce and working in HR across major tech companies, Heredia signed up with a recruiter and told them that she still really wanted to work in media and entertainment. Three years later, they told her about a HR role that was open at NBCUniversal.
“They were very open about the fact they were presenting other candidates, and said I didn’t have the right ‘pedigree’ for the role – but they would suggest me anyway. It took 14 interviews. And I know I was up against people who knew people and had moved between different brands in the industry. I knew no one. But I did have common sense. And I really, really loved the content they were involved in. They gave me the role.”
Needless to say, Heredia recalls her first days and weeks on the job fondly. “It was amazing. We got to go through all this content of everything we were releasing. I was burning with excitement. I remember messaging my mother to tell her about all the movie trailers I’d seen.”
Now, more than six years into her career with NBC, Heredia’s had her first child and returned from parental leave. She sees the low attrition rate of those working for the employer and knows firsthand the need to support women throughout different stages of their lives, especially for what she describes can be “silent suffering” for women at work: adjusting to parenthood, going through IVF, menstruation and menopause.
So, NBC has created safe spaces and opened opportunities for conversations, within their APAC offices. They have appointed a number of key ambassadors to support team members through different stages, including a Menopause Ambassador, an IVF Ambassador, and soon a Family and Carer Ambassador. Such ambassadors and key supporters include Natascha Rey-Barry, as NBC’s Menopause Ambassador, and Ashleigh Grier as their Women’s Network leader.
“These ambassadors are people from within the business who are passionate about the content, who have shared their lived experience previously and have done their own research. These are groups and ambassadors appointed to know that you’re not alone,” Heredia says.
As well as breastfeeding rooms, Heredia notes the spaces created to support those going through IVF, as well as a menopause safe space giving team members access to ice blocks and a place to cool down. Staff can also access period underwear, with NBCUniversal stocking Modibodi products.
Underpinning all of these initiatives to support team members at different life stages is NBCUniversal’s commitment to becoming a supportive partner of Family Friendly Workplaces (FFW) when the initiative was launched by Parents At Work and UNICEF Australia in 2021. NBC has since been recertified.
Having worked with Parents At Work since 2018, Heredia recalls looking into the FFW initiative as it was being established and saw the opportunity for NBC to test itself against best practice employers, as well as identifying their gaps and looking at how they could address them.
In line with becoming family-friendly certified, NBC has removed gender labels and eligibility limitations from paid parental leave, and now offers 12 weeks of paid parental leave (or 24 weeks at half pay) from day one on the job to both mothers and fathers. The leave is also now open to a much wider range of family circumstances, including adoption and fostering a child. They have also expanded provisions to support team members dealing with stillbirth and pregnancy loss, and offer paid domestic violence leave.
For team members who do take paid parental leave, NBC offers staying-in-touch opportunities, as well as a manager resources portal, and parental coaching sessions. Team members also have the option to return to work flexibly, and to extend their parental leave period.
Heredia also notes NBC’s SponsHER Program, which aims to specifically look at how mentors can be converted into sponsors and directly advocate for new opportunities – including promotions and transfers – from those within the business. “It’s been really well received, especially as it’s clearly demonstrating actions, with our agenda being to get more women into leadership,” she says.
Personally, Heredia also recalls how coaching through Parents At Work benefited her. Having worked so hard to get the job, and being a self-described control freak, she recalls going on parental leave with her first child and finding things difficult to adjust to on her return.
“A week away from this business can feel like months. When you’ve worked so hard to get your dream job it can be really difficult to return and see how things have changed. The coaching really helped bring me to come back into my professional life.”
First published on Women’s Agenda
Women’s Agenda works with Family Friendly Workplaces to share stories from leaders about their own leadership, and how they’re working to make their own employers and businesses more family-friendly.