“Let me introduce you to someone like you guys”, said a colleague who met my client on his way home.
“Who? Human beings,” responded my client to his colleague. They both laughed and continued their usual banter but, my client could never let go of the inference in that conversation. He kept playing it in his head and wondered, why must I be differentiated as ‘unlike the others’? Am I not like every other human being on this planet?
At his scheduled appointment the next day, he brought this up and mentioned that he wasn’t really sure what his colleague meant? Did he want me to meet other people from my community, or introduce me to other gay men, since I am gay? He kept counting diverse colleagues he worked with, listing a few of them:
· LGBTIQ+ colleagues
· Asian colleagues
· Indian colleagues
· Middle Eastern colleagues
· European colleagues
· American colleagues
· African colleagues
He realised that he worked with a diverse population across the globe, and suddenly the World and its Continents looked like a global village to him. Each one of them being different yet working harmoniously together.
There were numerous questions that slowly made their way into his mind. He remembered meeting a few of them at a company event. Each one expecting their needs to be catered, a Jewish colleague was served a kosher meal, a Muslim colleague was served halal food, a Vegetarian colleague enjoyed his veggies, and a Vegan colleague had his specific needs looked after. The diversity was noticeable at that lunch table. We discussed this more at length and the conversation went something like this.
I said, “each person brings along with them their individual thoughts and cultural beliefs. For example, a person from Asian culture prefers eating with chopsticks or a spoon, a food item could be a soup with dumplings, veggies, and meat, all mixed together. While someone from the Middle east and Southeast Asian culture would prefer eating with their hand. The middle eastern culture promotes eating together, many times sharing from the same plate. While people from Southeast Asian culture – India to be specific – prefer eating a thali, where all the food items are served together in different bowls at once. The ones belonging to European or Western culture use cutlery to eat food, and are served 3 course meals, an entrée, main course, and dessert. Having a knife on the table while eating food may not be welcomed by the people from Asian and Southeast Asian cultures, and certain food items are prohibited for people of different faiths and beliefs. In a 3-course meal you may only add salt and pepper, and if you suggest to the chef another way to cook the recipe, they might take offense to that. While in a traditional thali you are free to mix items served to your delight, and the cook takes no offense.
A person from China may speak different languages Mandarin, Cantonese, Xiang, etc., but write in a single script Hanzi. We Australians communicate in English and use English as a script. While Indians speak multiple languages, and each language has a script of its own. Refer to the currency notes of each of these nations.”
“Could it be because I am gay, then, that he wanted to introduce me to other gay friends of his?”, my client added. “Maybe!”, I said. You can always ask him that and get more clarity on it. Probably, he was trying to be more inclusive.
Diversity can bring perspective to the corporate world. It can surely make things look chaotic at the workplace but each one of them gets a seat at the table, providing a view that comes from thousands of years of cultural beliefs, passed down through multiple generations, that shape the way important decisions are made, taking the company upwards and forwards. Look at it this way, if you are taking your customer for lunch, you can serve them with options – a 3 course Meal, An Asian Meal, A Middle Eastern Meal, or perhaps a Traditional Indian Thali.
Perhaps this is why, our National Anthem, “Advance Australia Fair” has these words inscribed in it, “for those who’ve come across the seas, we’ve boundless plains to share”.
The information and views expressed in the article are individual and inspired from the writer’s experience and study in Mental Health & Clinical Hypnotherapy.
Picture courtesy: Google images
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