My story: diversity in the work space

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The Independent Online

Are you the only diverse person in the village? Read two successful workers' story on how to over come any diversity issues in the work space.

‘This sector welcomes people from any background’

  • Gabre Minkah is a senior account executive for multicultural communications at the global PR agency Weber Shandwick, based in their London headquarters

“After doing a Masters degree in communities, organisations and social change, I became really interested in the issues of communities, culture and identity. Working in the culture sector was an obvious career route and I got a job in the Mayor of London’s Office in their cultural strategy department. It was a good way to develop my understanding of the cultural world.

“The only problem was that I was an administrator and I knew I was capable of more. I came across the Cultural Leadership Programme, which is a Government-funded project that has a particular emphasis on developing people from minority ethnic backgrounds as future leaders in the cultural and creative sector. I applied, was successful and landed a placement at the London 2012 Olympics, where I got some invaluable mentoring and work shadowing opportunities. I got to spend valuable time with women whom I aspire to be like. It was very inspirational.

“Now I’m a senior account executive for multicultural communications at Weber Shandwick, where I am a lead advocate in advising clients on how best to market to multicultural groups. I am an African- Caribbean woman and the Cultural Leadership Programme is a great way for nurturing the professional development of aspirational people like me to become the leaders of the future. But as long as you’re enthusiastic, proactive and have the ability to persevere, then this sector welcomes people from any background.”





‘I like being a role model’

  • Nigel Smith is a Blue Cross vet at Victoria Animal Hospital in London

“You may ask, does it matter who treats animals as long as they help make them better? But ethnic minority vets are important. It helps in the charity sector where I work. Sometimes, for example, I find I can communicate with – and even extract information from – another ethnic minority client in a manner that someone else may not be able to.

“I was the only British black person in my year in vet school when I graduated in 1996, but things aren’t so bad now. I see far more ethnic minorities at vet school and at professional meetings. I think it’s partly the efforts of the schools in targeting these people. There are also special schemes, such as Gateway, which the Royal Veterinary College set up to encourage more people from ethnic minorities to enter the profession.

“In my case, I always wanted to be a vet. It boils down to a passion for science – particularly of investigating and fixing things – and a love of animals. Initially, I worked in a practice where I cared for large and small animals. In 1998, I joined Blue Cross, a large charity.

I love it because I’m able to pursue my interest of surgery and I also get to help educate people about responsible ownership of animals. I like being a role model too – helping encourage minority children in a positive way. Unlike in a practice, costs are not a priority – animal welfare is. I think some ethnic minorities still perceive that they can’t be vets. It’s simply not true.”

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