This is in relation to the software industry in Australia.

I am noticing a repeated and consistent attitude stemming from Indians towards those of non-Indian background in the industry.


  • Favoritism in hiring
  • Not helping non Indian background developers from Indian senior engineers

It is simply so obvious and I can't believe this is happening and how they are getting away with it. I work in a large firm and the team managers are showing favoritism in hiring practices. I've never seen an Indian manager hire a non-Indian developer and their teams are pretty much 99% Indian. Other managers have mixed teams.

When I ask an Indian business analyst or more experienced developer for help I am given a usual answer of "figure it out yourself, I'm busy" (in a professional manner of course) but if an Indian developer asks the same thing they drop everything and happily spend upwards of 20-30 minutes explaining things to them. I see this happen literally every day.

I have seen this happen in a few businesses I've worked in.

My question is really how do I navigate such a workplace?

Specifically, are there tips on how to still remain productive despite now being adversely affected? Is it worth complaining to management about?

Disclaimer: Leaving this workplace is very difficult as most industries have been taken over by them and they only hire each other. This is a European company so it is still very mixed but still plagued with this issue.

  • 16
    As a software developer in Australia, I can assure this is not an industry-wide nor nationwide occurrence. Software development here is still very much dominated by white males.
    – HorusKol
    Jan 18, 2019 at 5:22
  • 3
    Does this happen to other people at your workplace or just you?
    – jcmack
    Jan 18, 2019 at 5:26
  • 9
    My issue with this question, is the disclaimer. "plagued" is an uncomfortable judgement call and I'm beginning to wonder if this is actually an issue or if this is a perceived issue. I can't put my finger on it, but the language in the disclaimer hints at perception issue. In other words, this is a slyly posted opinion built as a question. Jan 18, 2019 at 13:15
  • 3
    Wondering if that group is staffed entirely by outsourced people and not company staff? A place I worked had a policy of only staffing to 70% of their needed engineering people and outsourcing the remaining 30%. That way, they could "lay off" 30% of the engineering people without letting go staff. These 30% were all pretty good, but they generally behaved like you're saying: polite, but not willing to help outside the team --- with good reason, they're not being paid to work outside the team. My experience was US, not Australia. YMMV.
    – Peter K.
    Jan 18, 2019 at 13:27
  • 6
    As far as I can judge, this is a industry wide pattern. Not only by people with an indian background, but in my experience it's lived more openly and more aggressively there.
    – Wilbert
    Jan 18, 2019 at 13:53

7 Answers 7


This is tough.

It seems that favoritism in general isn't a new phenomena. According to Forbes:

A survey conducted by Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business found that 92% of senior business executives have seen favoritism at play in employee promotions, including at their own companies (84%). About a quarter of the polled execs admitted to practicing favoritism themselves.

So this seems to be the nature of the beast. So then the question remains, how do you navigate it?

Again Forbes talks about cliques as well in another article:

According to a new CareerBuilder survey, 43% of workers say their office is populated by cliques—which are tightly knit groups of co-workers who socialize in and outside the office, and often exclude others.

Also form the article:

“Cliques tend to lack diversity,” she says. “Another disadvantage is being branded and known for your friends, not for who you are.”

This part is the interesting part. There's a few suggestions to try and "break in".

--Do your best not to be intimidated by a clique, says Elster. “Most cliques have little institutional power; their members are not in a position to promote you or give you a raise.”

--If a clique targets you -- if they taunt you or turn their backs on you or gossip about you – do your best not to react.

--Divide and conquer, Crowley says. Try to form positive connections with each clique member separate from the group setting.

I would suggest understanding the fundamental truths about the world.

The World Only Cares About What It Can Get from You

I would suggest becoming very good at what you do. Study outside of work, use your weekends and get better. At some point, you will be indispensable and then, they will not have a choice but to engage because they NEED you. Is it fluffy and ideal? No it isn't. But neither is the situation. You can complain or feel like a victim or you can take action and learn from it. I know this may not be what you want as an answer. But no other answer provided has even attempted to provide a rational solution.

  • 5
    a clique and an ethnic group are two very different things, you don't 'break into' an ethnic group, you're born into it or marry into it.
    – Kilisi
    Jan 18, 2019 at 12:58
  • @Kilisi I don't see it that way. Just because someone is from a different ethnic group it does not mean you cannot change their perception of you. Now does it mean you can't build relationships with individuals from that group. The assumption here is that this ethnic group is full stop a sort of "iron wall" that can't be dealt with. I personally don't accept that narrative. Humans are malleable. People can be convinced to consider other perspectives. Making friends with one person who is part of a clique, even a cultural or ethnic one, can STILL be a productive move. Jan 18, 2019 at 13:11
  • 1
    a clique can be within an ethnic group, but an ethnic group is not a clique... just saying
    – Kilisi
    Jan 18, 2019 at 14:04
  • "--If a clique targets you -- if they taunt you or turn their backs on you or gossip about you – do your best not to react." I think this is my take home message, thanks for the response.
    – solarflare
    Jan 20, 2019 at 21:43
  • I took a look at the "truths of the world" and man, there are a bunch of things wrong with it. While the message being expressed makes sense (in limited situations), the convoluted way it is put across includes a bunch of mental distortions along with the idea. Here is one example: --"But why can't I find someone who just likes me for me?" you ask. The answer is because humans need things.-- No! We all need things but we all contribute contribute to charities. That itself tells you that human beings are a lot more than "constantly needy" people. Someone doesn't like you for you because they
    – Mugen
    Mar 20, 2019 at 9:45

You live with it, you excel, or you leave.

As a minority within a minority, I've had this issue to various degrees in almost every place I've worked, it's not confined to Indians. I've overcome it by proactively training myself to be self-reliant, self-educating and self-confident. These are useful and necessary skills to acquire if you want to get ahead.

In such situations you cannot cruise through, it's not enough to be as good as the people with the advantages, you need to be better.

  • 8
    I was lucky enough to get my start in programming before it became so male-dominated. Even so, "self-reliant, self-educating, and self-confident" are very useful skills. You don't need anyone's permission to learn what you want to learn. Jan 18, 2019 at 9:09
  • @Kilisi if I outperform them then I make myself a target as I am making them look bad. It also doesnt help that this is exactly what I am doing as I am tasked to fix bugs and a vast majority is coming from code they wrote.
    – solarflare
    Jan 20, 2019 at 21:49
  • 5
    @solarflare that isn't a problem, you're already a target, you need to understand that. The difference is you're a target with options rather than one bending over and taking it.
    – Kilisi
    Jan 21, 2019 at 2:46

One can be the "unfavorite" for many reasons.

For me, my disabilities have been an obstacle, for others it could be race, gender, political affiliation, marital status, et cetera.

You need to assess the situation and see if it rises to the point of being untenable. If so, you need to move on. If not, you need to be better than everyone else to be treated as an equal. You may never be accepted, but you can at least be respected.

I've had to overcome quite a bit just to get a modicum of respect here and there. Don't let it distract you because your skill and knowledge are always yours. Press on, if you're not valued where you are, go to a place where you will be.


This is simple. You just show up everytime someone starts explaining something to an Indian co-worker. Make sure you're including yourself in their events and becoming friends with them.

A potentially sad, but accurate consequence of these actions is that your new friends will stop seeing you as white. You'll still be white to them, but you'll be their white friend. Eventually they'll stop associating you with as many of the negative stereotypes around your background. In a sense, you might become "One of the good ones".

You just gotta kill 'em with friendship.

Also this process takes a while so you'll probably need to be able to figure a lot of stuff out yourself. That's just how it goes.

I also want to point out that this behavior probably isn't racism or intentional favoritism. They're probably just more familiar with their Indian co-workers. I can't really say why they would be more familiar with them because there's an entire host of reasons this could be the case. They're probably not looking to mentor Indians either if they're telling you to "self-sufficient off". The mentorship probably just happens.

  • The females seem friendly but the males are guarded and defensive, its difficult to be friendly - I have tried (and will continue to try)
    – solarflare
    Jan 20, 2019 at 21:39
  • 1
    @solarflare Things should improve as long as you're present.
    – user53651
    Jan 22, 2019 at 18:12

As a person from a minority background, working in Australia I have seen this first hand as well. It might be commonly observed with people from the background you mentioned but I have seen it with many nationalities just to varying degrees.

What I do when I am looking for a job is I observe the makeup of the development team/ company in the office / on linkedin. If there is a majority of any ethnicity/nationality I tend to avoid the workplace just to be on the safe side. For me this is the first indicator for more trouble to come.


Specifically, are there tips on how to still remain productive despite now being adversely affected? Is it worth complaining to management about?

In your question you describe a generalized observation about your particular workplace. Your perspective is that managers and coworkers are actively playing favorites only to a certain group of people and excluding you from that. The question is what exactly about this situation harmed you? Are you unable to get answers? Unable to get help? Ruining your career? Or are you just concerned you won't get a fair career?

I would first investigate what is it that is adversely harming you? Then from there figure out what you can do about it. If you cannot get help, talk to a manager. Tell them you feel others are getting help with similar questions while you are not. Maybe there is a language or culture barrier of some sort that you're not seeing yet.

  • You cant talk to a manager about this or you'll be sitting in HR watching a video about how racism is a bad thing.
    – solarflare
    Jan 20, 2019 at 21:41
  • You could ask for a mentor or some such if possible. There's nothing wrong with asking for help. Either way you never described what exactly is being done to you in relation to a higher ratio of Indian workers.
    – Dan
    Jan 23, 2019 at 15:17
  • To give you an example, this just happened literally 1 minute ago: 2 Indian coworkers, chatting laughing etc, 5 minutes passes One had put out a request to fix a bug with very very little information. I ask if he has 5 minutes, he says he is busy with something else, asks "what is the issue?" I said I need a bit more information, he mumbles something then fixes his gaze hard on his laptop completely ignoring me. Then he just gets up and walks away to get a coffee. Other Indian he was earlier talking to completely ignores what just happened. This is one example of dozens.
    – solarflare
    Jan 23, 2019 at 22:14
  • @solarflare just to be clear: one of your co-workers asked you to fix a problem, and when you asked for more info, ignored you? That seems like you just email him that you need more info and you'll deal with his problem when you get it, and then forget about it. If someone asks you about it, just say "I'm waiting on X for more info".
    – DaveG
    Mar 21, 2019 at 13:28
  • @DaveG I've been doing that and I now have a backlog of incomplete tasks sitting dead in the water for months. Doesn't make me look good and doesn't help the business.
    – solarflare
    Mar 21, 2019 at 21:26

Racism = reverse racism (no such thing)

Favouritism != racism (at least not necessarily)

If you're negatively impacted, you're within your right to complain to management.

Keep in mind, should the offender deduct or learn it was you, your relationship will be worse but they'll be more careful in showing you.

Unfortunately it is hard to overcome favouritism and even harder to "reform" actual racists.

  • 2
    Your answer is just picking up on a single choice of words that the OP used, and then edited away before you posted the answer. It doesn't address the gyst of the question
    – dwjohnston
    Jan 18, 2019 at 10:56
  • @dwjohnston yes it does! "If you're negatively impacted, you're within your right to complain to management." - that's my advice,it is OPs decision and their right. The corrections I formulated to the words used are necessary because people conflate and confuse meanings, which is in this case very problematic as racism vs favouritism require different reactions by HR and have different impact in case OP escalates to a lawsuit.Do I have to spell this out and make a tl;dr answer? Are adults talking here or not? Jan 18, 2019 at 11:13
  • @dwjohnston as for the timing,when I started typing the answer. those were the words.OP obviously started editing after that and possibly published before I finished and hit send.As if I would bitch about things that have been changed... Jan 18, 2019 at 11:25

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