As  part of Islamophobia Awareness Month, Hajra discusses her journey of self confidence and what she hopes for the future.

Date: 04.11.21

Hi, I’m Hajra.  I have worked for next for 13 years and it was my very first job.  When I first had my interview I didn’t think I would get the job, I guess partly because of my niqaab (face veil) but I’m so glad Next gave me this opportunity. 

Over the years I have become much more confident.  I happily communicate with managers including senior managers on a professional and personal level.  My own team manager has instilled a lot of confidence in me and has also believed in me and I feel without her support I wouldn’t have got this far.  I have built a great rapport with my team members and my colleagues and I am often the source of support for them.

When I applied to become a Life at Next embassador I wasn’t sure how it would be, I hadn’t planned to upload a photo of myself as I have never done that previously on any of my social media.  I was putting myself out there on a more visual level on Social Media and I wasn’t sure what reaction I would get.  My post was met with a lot of interest and respect which to be honest I wasn’t expecting. 

click here to view the post on instagram

After my post was posted on our next Linkedin page I was further shocked at the response as 99% of it was all positive.  The post has gathered over 12,000 likes and over 400 comments from people from all walks of life.  A lot of the comments were from people living in other countries and Next have been praised for its inclusion and diversity.

As expected I did receive a few negative comments and I guess that is due to maybe ignorance or not enough knowledge about why I cover my face.  I was also surprised as some of the negative comments were also from my fellow muslims which I found disheartening.

I want to inspire more women in niqaab (face veil) or even hijaab (head covering) to go and chase their dreams be it in their career or any thing else they want to pursue.  Regardless of anyones background or beliefs we just have to be confident and let ourselves grow.

Rather than people assume things, I am more than happy to answer any questions about my faith and why I wear the niqaab.

Next has allowed me to bring my whole self to work and I have been able progress in my career. I recently applied for the Management Development Programme and have been successful,  I am looking forward to what the future holds for me with Next.