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Nirupa Netram provides today’s guest Blog that asks, ‘Are You JEDI Ready?’ Netram is the CEO of Lotus Solutions, LLC. Netram states, “Most employers still struggle with having tough conversations about diversity and inclusion. We offer custom solutions to help them overcome these challenges.”
Nirupa’s story below is highly compelling and gives reason for us to seriously consider being JEDI Ready. As we take in her experiences, we can apply the lessons to all business endeavors and society in general.
Creativity and humor aside, the JEDI acronym stands for Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. It’s almost ironic that a substantial portion of the population feels excluded. When we strive to understand the history of one another, more ideas come forth for making improvement. May you consider becoming JEDI Ready!
Are You JEDI Ready?
Nirupa Netram’ Story
I am Indian. An Indian does not need to be born in India. I will explain more below.
I was born in Guyana, a small country in South America, where I lived for the first few years of my life. Indians are one of Guyana’s five main ethnic groups, and my entire ancestry is Indian- my great-great-grandparents were born in India.
In Guyana, it was customary for people around me to speak the broken form of English. My Indian Hindu English-speaking parents and I moved from Guyana to the neighboring country of Suriname, a Dutch-speaking country. It was there that I started kindergarten and self-taught myself this new language.
My family immigrated to Florida when I was age nine. I finished schooling, including college and law school, there. I was the first in my family to go to college.
Growing up, whenever someone asked what I wanted to be, I would reply, “I am going to be an attorney.” I think that was based on my love for reading, analysis, and debate.
On my 25th birthday, I learned I passed The Florida Bar exam on my first attempt. A week later, The Florida Bar admitted me to practice law. I have spent two decades plus as an attorney and executive working in government (in the area of justice), corporate, and nonprofit sectors. I have served in non-attorney executive roles as director and chief.
I have always been passionate about justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion (JEDI) and embedded them in each of my roles well before the recent global increased interest in JEDI. My passion for JEDI and the negative experiences of being a female immigrant of color is why I started my consulting company, Lotus Solutions LLC, to help companies of all sizes and industries build JEDI to ensure a fair and just workplace.
Checking the “Asian” Box
When I complete any form asking about my race and-or ethnicity, I place a checkmark next to the box marked “Asian.” While I am not from Asia, I check the “Asian” box because there is no category for Indians like me born in Guyana. I am now accustomed to automatically checking this box. However, I do so with much trepidation for the reasons below.
Those Who Question Whether I Am Indian
I am very proud of and celebrate my rich Indian heritage and culture. I enjoy meeting and learning from all types of people of different cultures and backgrounds. I consider myself very inclusionary.
I will never get used to people who attempt to make me feel like I am not an “authentic” Indian. While I have met amazing people in life, including Indians from India, I have had a few encounters with many who are not so pleasant.
When I meet an Indian person from India, which has always been in a professional setting, they initially are very enthusiastic upon meeting me. The first question I then get is, “Where are you from?” When I reply, “Guyana,” I am almost immediately met with an “oh I see” or similar response and a frown. Sometimes, that person says, “Yes, I can tell you are from Guyana.” When I inevitably ask how they know this, their response is, “You still have an accent.” Their reply bewilders me because I do not have a Guyanese accent.
After such preliminary introductions, the person’s tone changes drastically from enthusiasm to indifference. In short, this makes me feel as if I am somehow a lesser Indian because I was born in Guyana. When this happens, I feel very uncomfortable, and the person speaking to me becomes disinterested. Similar occurrences happen to me repeatedly.
I have spoken to other Indians from Guyana who have shared similar negative experiences. One even told me that clients frequently say things such as “you people.”
I do not understand why people behave this way. Do not get me wrong- not all Indians from India have treated me and others like me in this hurtful manner. I have met several Indians from India who are very friendly and respectful of my heritage. And I hope to meet many more like them. In my work, I strive to support diverse populations- regardless of where they were born.
It is tough to experience such treatment from the Indian community. As a woman of color, I have experienced discrimination from non-Indians, and it just stings a little more when it comes from my fellow Indians.
I view all my life experiences as teaching moments about myself and others. The three main lessons I have learned from these experiences are:
- Do not make assumptions about people. Assuming includes, but is not limited to, where they were born. When you meet someone for the first time, approach them with a clear mind and think about what you can learn from this person.
- Be aware of your words, tone, demeanor, and body language when speaking with someone. Take the time to reflect upon your interaction with this individual. Ask yourself, did I treat this person equitably? Is there anything I could have done differently to be more inclusive? Take note of your answers and put the more welcoming approaches into practice whenever you talk with another person.
- Treat people better than they treat you. Because someone has not treated you with kindness or respect does not mean you have to treat them that same way. Be respectful, true to yourself, and adhere to the highest ethics and principles in all circumstances.
I hope my story serves as a reminder that the boxes we check do not define who we are as individuals. Additionally, we must stop judging people, even within our own cultures. Life is a short journey, so let’s uplift and support one another and celebrate and learn from all our differences. May we all become JEDI Ready!
For More Insights: Visit Elinor’s Amazon Author Page
“Communicate to Attract Interest”
As the CEO of Smooth Sale, after her near-death experience, Stutz adapted the motto, “Believe, Become, Empower.”Nice Girls DO Get the Sale is an International Best-Selling and Evergreen book – among the classics; HIRED! Helped many to secure the job they desired.
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Sales Tips: Are You JEDI Ready? (Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion)
- For learning purposes, reflect on the unwelcoming commentary you typically receive.
- Consider where education and improvement are in need (including corporate environments) and how you may assist.
- Find the community that appeals to your desire to be of service and help change the status quo.
- Research organizations online in the JEDI space to compare and find the one that speaks to your interests.
- Seek out a committee where you may provide your unique insights.
- Share stories with committee and organization members to gain additional knowledge.
- On social media, connect with those who may have similar interests and introduce your group when appropriate.
- Become an activist for justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion so that no one will ever again ask, are you JEDI Ready?
- Demonstrate you are committed to being a JEDI warrior and ready to make a difference!
- Celebrate Success!
Today’s insights are provided to help you achieve the Smooth Sale!
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Greg Jenkins Consulting LLC – Helping organizations realize the value of diversity to build inclusive, evolving high-performing cultures.
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