The children need to see that as a norm – Deepa Gibson
When you think of words such as ‘wife’ or ‘mother’, you may immediately think of a woman who stays at home. Equally, if the word you are given is ‘Indian’, you may think of takeaways and corner shops.
However, there is so much more to a person than these labels. They shouldn’t dictate how you are viewed by the world. Every person is so much more than a few adjectives.
The importance of where you live
I grew up in Leicester, a city rich in diverse cultures. To me, seeing people of all walks of life was felt ‘normal’. Having also lived in London, I felt at home there, seeing several people like me living alongside those who looked entirely different. I always knew that no matter where I lived, it needed to be somewhere that had a wide range of diversity.
At the same time, I’ve also seen how people may shy away from an area just because their cultural identity is not the majority here. Like the Indian community in Leicester people tend to gravitate to where they feel safe and live near family and friends.
As a family, we celebrate religious traditions, my phrase for celebrating Diwali and Christmas. We are a family of mixed religions, and we are proud of that diversity. We don’t really follow a single religion, we educate our children about their background, with the idea that they make choices when they are old enough to. We still love the cultural background of these festivities. It can help to pass on aspects of culture to my children, as well as those around me who take an interest.
On joining Tribal, I was asked about Diwali. While it could have been simple for that person to just Google the answer, I preferred their approach. This allowed me to build a connection with that colleague, share my experiences, and allow them to develop their understanding.
One of the things that confuses people about me is my surname. When you hear the name ‘Gibson’, you may think of a white woman. However, there has been times where my name has been called out and people seem taken aback that an Indian woman answers.
My husband, however, is White British. Due to this, we have different customs, from both of our cultures, that we want to pass down to our children. Currently, I have a 7 year old daughter and 5 year old son. My daughter is of an age where she now recognises the differences between people’s features.
My children are lucky to go to a diverse school. This means that they spend a lot of time with people from all walks of life. However, while over 60% of the pupils are of an ethnicity other than white, the Governing body doesn’t reflect this. That’s why I became a parent governor to ensure that the experiences and opinions of ethnic minorities are represented.
When I joined Tribal, it came at a rather important part of my life. Having worked in photography and imagery previously, I then moved and had children, meaning my life needed to take a different turn. Social Media and Digital Marketing are now my main career focus.
The first stereotype Tribal helps to destroy is that of mothers and women. Working mums like myself, and CEO Sarah Goodall, can unlock our potential while still putting our families first. I have the freedom to take care of my family and fit my work into the day in a way that suits me. Seeing women in positions of authority within a company is also rather refreshing.
When I first started, diversity and inclusion wasn’t something that was actively discussed. We now have regular discussions as a team about our lived experiences. This allows for a wider range of ideas to be included, as well as more of an understanding about the people you work alongside.
One of the biggest thought processes is that it may seem rude to ask a person where their family originates from. While some people may take offence to that, I welcome questions, so long as they are polite and well-intended. People cannot learn about the wide array of cultures around them if these conversations don’t happen. I’m also proud of my Gujarati heritage and want to share that with others.
A year ago, I had no idea what my life would look like. Having faced a family bereavement, I wasn’t sure which path I would take. Yet now, I’m on track to gain a management position as a woman of colour and opening up the conversation on ethnic diversity that are much more.
I hope that, with these discussions taking place, my children can grow up in a world where it becomes normal to discuss all the different cultures that exist, and that taboo has been removed. I think that, given enough of a platform, we could make it a reality that coming from a different walk of life is something that is normalised, allowing for a greater level of equality.