Only one other Bengali woman works for my company, and we’d like to get together socially. But we wonder if we’d be viewed as separating ourselves. How can we connect without seeming to self-segregate?
Dear Socially (Self-)Conscious,
You might want to approach this by thinking about two types of socializing: private and public.
In your private socializing, you should feel free to get together with whomever you wish and not worry about what the “neighbors” think. This is your own time, and you deserve to be with the people you gravitate toward. If that means communing with your Bengali compatriot, it shouldn’t be a problem. So do as many dinners, barbecues, parties, evenings out, shopping trips, and the like as you want.
In your public socializing—by that, I mean anything company-related––you probably shouldn’t appear “glued” to one another. It’s fine to go out to lunch together once in a while, or chat now and then during the company holiday party. But make an effort to mingle with other co-workers on a regular basis. The point is to convey to others that you’re comfortable socializing with everyone. No one is likely to begrudge you your special bond with your Bengali friend—your co-workers would probably think it odd if you didn’t strike up a connection. But if she’s the only person you seem to be interested in, they’ll think you don’t want to talk to anyone else. They’ll be likely to respect that boundary, and then you’ll become isolated. That could have subtle negative repercussions for you on the job. DW