I grew up as a third culture kid, born in India and raised in the United Arab Emirates. At a very early age, I had encounters with some racist kids often while in a school bus in the lane next to mine. This altered my perception of myself, created an inferiority complex when compared to the instigators of the racist incident, and I felt helpless and trapped.
The problem in the UAE was not a lack of diversity.
UAE is a country where more than 70% of the population are expats from all over the world, although most of the working class were from Philippines, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Despite this, there was a racist minority and a class separation resulting in minimal interactions between the minority and the expat majority. The racist minority surrounded themselves with others like them, sharing the same biases, perpetrating ignorance further.
Things got better as the minority started going abroad for higher education - they opened their horizons, studying with people from various backgrounds as they completed their course, some of whom I met in the UK while pursuing my masters, who admitted that they had racial biases prior to coming here.
This is the power of interactions with a diverse group of people! Unbeknownst to them they learned that no matter the ethnicity/skin colour/physical features - humans were pretty similar.
As a consequence, foreign universities have opened branches in the UAE and children from my background are not spat at by wealthy Arab kids sitting in a school bus next to theirs.
Where I work now, Kaluza, is a rapidly growing company full of employees from different backgrounds. Everyone has racial biases - conscious or unconscious. Without interacting with a diverse group of humans around, one deprives oneself of the opportunity to learn something new. I would like to ensure that everyone I interact with understands the importance of a diverse workforce, the value of different perspectives in making key decisions and the benefits this brings to our platform and organisation.
My pledge is that I will make time for this as I truly believe that this effort will only positively impact the organisation and help me meet new people and solve problems that are not necessarily part of my day job.
There are plenty.
We would love for our organisation to have some data targets. As part of a wider diversity equity and inclusion group, we would love for our organisation to have more Women in Leadership positions. Similarly we want to surface both gender pay gap and ethnicity pay gap. This would help us be more accountable and come up with meaningful objectives and in one way will help the organisation’s brand name.
What I would love though is to do some outreach activities. That’s like work closely with people from ethnic minority communities and inspire them and help them understand how life is in tech and encourage the next generation to apply for jobs in tech.
We have made some small strides over the last year. We signed the Race at Work Charter. So we are hoping to see some change.
I appreciate change like this happens gradually and hence it might feel like a drag when you don’t have much to shout out about so frequently. But working with a bunch of people who are intrinsically motivated to drive change, inspires me and keeps me motivated to do my best.
I hope that someday, I inspire others too.