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A Boatload of Elephants

Page 2

Darryl Emmerson

Ranjit looked puzzled, and a few others began to shift in their chairs. I could also see the fiery Maxine from PR getting a certain glint in her eye.

Just as Ranjit was set to ask Sam what people he was referring to, diplomatic Donna stepped in. “Well there’s not much need to bring politics into it, is there, everyone? Aren’t we here to consider the facilitator’s ideas, and look at new ways of doing business?”

Donna’s sanctimonious, always-correct manner did not, on this occasion, bring the desired result.

Maxine had to weigh in, and did. “I think there’s a lot more here than just team building and world’s best practice, Donna. This company says it’s on about inclusion and diversity, but there’s been little sign of that in the training so far, or of course in this tea break”.

“Haven’t we wandered a bit far from the footy?” asked the pacific Chris. A few of the guys from the workshop shrugged ruefully.

“I’m not so sure that we have”, pursued Maxine firmly. “What are we as a group, or individually, doing to look at racism in our daily lives, in how we speak to each other, or conduct our business? Five minutes ago we saw Sam here somehow link up Ranjit with people on boats! What was all that about?”

Sam began to blush and stammer.

“All I meant, Maxine” – people often seemed compelled to explain themselves to her, generally earning the label ‘defensive’ for their trouble - “was that some of Ranjit’s people might be in danger at sea, and he might be worried about them”.

“But they’re not his people!” Maxine stormed on. “The people trying to cross the Indian Ocean at present are from Myanmar, and Ranjit comes from northern India, isn’t that right? Thousands of miles away”, she ended scornfully.

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