By Aaron Cordy
TO be one against the crowd can be seen as a status symbol in a world of conformity, but when you are a minority in a large room filled with your peers it can be rather daunting. Neha Samar has often found herself the only person of colour in the room, but the experience has not left her jaded nor frightened her away from pursuing her career goals.
Vocational Education and Training Specialist at Indie College and founder of the Flamingo Project, Neha spoke on a panel discussion for the Victorian Multicultural Commissions Regional Advisory Forum on the topic of Racism in Professional settings last week.
“The reason I wanted to specifically talk about racism in professional settings is not to highlight racism, it’s how do we understand the difference between racism and ignorance. Often in my role, I’ve realised it’s only a discussion that needs to happen to understand why one feels the way they do. I realised that not everyone means what we think they mean, so how do we bridge the gap?” said Ms Samar.
In her professional life, Neha has often found it hard to be judged for her work experience and vast skill set, which can be unfortunately common for people of diverse backgrounds seeking a place in corporate management and board of directors.
“It’s about being able to enter mainstream Australia and not just subjected in a certain box that says if you’re a person of colour you fit into multicultural organisations or leading multicultural organisations, which people are doing that and it’s much needed, but how are we collaborating together?
“I want my talk to be about how we have conversations in a safe way for people who want to learn about cultural backgrounds or any kind of differences, rather than jumping off at everything is malicious.”
With so much turmoil in the world, it is only through coming together and understanding each other as people first that we can truly build the world we want to leave to our children. Australia has such an array of people and cultures walking the same streets, yet we don’t always do enough to openly understand the beauty all the world’s people have to offer. By listening to and getting to know amazing people like Neha Samar, we can go a long way towards positive change, not only for the corporate world but our daily lives and those of our children.
“My kids have played a big role in trying to be somebody I want them to be, it’s not taught, they look at their parents and they learn.”