We’re excited to introduce you to some of the incredible DEI training facilitators that are part of the SGO team. We asked them to share what sparked their passion for this work, what DEI means to them, and why they do what they do. Meet Fatima Dainkeh, Learning & Development Manager!
What does DEI mean to you?
The terms diversity, equity, and inclusion are inextricably linked and are best understood when there’s awareness about the socio-political and cultural environment in which these terms are used. My understanding and definitions of these terms are based on the historical and present day climate in the United States, and the experiences of people in this country. Based on this, I understand DEI through the lens of justice where diversity is about acknowledging and honoring the presence of difference, particularly differences that have not been centered or privileged (e.g. Black people, women, LGBTQIA+ community, people with disabilities, etc.). Inclusion is the daily intentional practice of creating a culture that honors and values those that have been marginalized. Equity is working to right the wrongs by creating structures that often centered those that have been marginalized.
How do you come to this work? How did you learn it was necessary, and how did you get involved?
To me DEI work is life work. I can’t imagine myself doing anything but this. As a DEI practitioner and facilitator, my job is to be curious about possibilities. What is possible in trying to create a better world for all of us, especially those who’ve been pushed to the margins? Curiosity allows me to listen to stories, provide solutions, and learn new ways of thinking and being. Growing up, I realized that being curious during conversations with people from different backgrounds allowed conversations to go further. This approach is what led me to take on various roles throughout my life such as a mediator, mentor, and now a facilitator. I not only enjoy doing the work that I do but I’ve seen how conversations have led to change in people’s personal and professional lives.
What do you think is the biggest challenge for teams when beginning DEI work, and how can they overcome it?
Being afraid. Afraid to do or say the wrong thing. It makes sense to be afraid but I always say being afraid doesn’t mean that we can’t do something or start somewhere. We have a long history of oppression in this country which has created many inequities in the workplace and beyond. Simultaneously, we also have a long history of resistance and fighting for justice. It’s really important to remind ourselves of that when we are beginning to do DEI work. The work isn’t new. If you’re afraid, think of what is possible when we decide to choose the side of history that resists and fights for justice. That side of history is literally why I’m here today doing the work I do.
What’s the most fulfilling experience you’ve had while doing this work?
Seeing minds and hearts change in real time! It’s encouraging when someone finally can understand the difference between equality and equity, or when they’re no longer resisting the idea that justice matters. Hearing people share their reflections and feeling inspired to create change in their workplaces and beyond is powerful.
What have you learned through your experiences in facilitating? (Alt: What was the biggest surprise you’ve had in this experience?)
Facilitating doesn’t guarantee change. The truth is our job is to create space for people to do their own processing and thinking as we share DEI related concepts, strategies, and tools. I like to think of facilitators as people who come in and plant seeds. It’s up to the receivers to be the gardeners.
What is one of your favorite resources related to diversity, equity, and inclusion and why?
There’s so much out there! My go-to recommendation is Power, Privilege and Difference by Allan G. Johnson. Great foundational reading for anyone interested in trying to understand or explain systems of oppression and how it manifests itself in our society!
Learn more about the SGO team and our diversity, equity, and inclusion training offerings.
Now that you know more about our facilitators, learn more about working with us!