Ask SGO: How do DEI facilitators work together?

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Felicia:One question we get asked a lot about is who are our facilitators? And how do they work on our projects?  And how do we decide who gets assigned to …

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One question we get asked a lot about is who are our facilitators? And how do they work on our projects?  And how do we decide who gets assigned to what work? 

So we do have a few in-house facilitators. I, myself, am also a facilitator from time to time. And then we work with some contract facilitators as well. Here at SGO we try to be really mindful about who’s doing what work, if at all possible. And so each of our people that we work with has some kind of background, or specialty, or area of interest, or a topic that they really love talking about and holding space for. And so depending on what the client engagements look like, if at all possible, we do like to match up as much as we can. So for example, we do have a few of our facilitators who have more experience in higher education, or general education, K to 12. And so for working with a school or a college or university, those would be the people that we would look to first. Myself, I come from the tech industry, and so when a client comes to us, who is in tech, I love working with them just because there’s so much that I know I can bring to the conversation just from my own personal lived experience, working with within that tech industry, working at past companies and bringing that to add additional flavor to the conversation that we’ll be having. 

In terms of how we work with each other on the facilitator side, sometimes we do have a joint facilitation, sometimes we don’t, but it’s always a conversation around you know, first of all, scheduling availability, but also what matches up the best. And if we do work with clients where it’s not necessarily a direct one-on-one past experience, for example, I have done work with clients who are in the restaurant industry and I, myself, have never worked in the restaurant industry, what that means is we’ll just be doing a bit more research and conversations and tapping our own networks to see how can we best make sure that whatever it is is relevant and that we’re prepped as much as possible going into it.

I love a good prep. So shouts to Felicia, I know you said you sometimes do facilitation, but Felicia is holding the fort down as it relates to all things facilitating. 

Another thing I’d add on is during the process, how do we work together? And probably even how do we support each other? So sometimes we might co-facilitate, which means it’s not just one facilitator facilitating a session, it’s multiple, usually it’s two of us. Felicia and I have had an opportunity to co-facilitate, and I’m excited for Jacquis to be joining us. We’ve been also sharing some space together as we do virtual sessions. We would just check in with one another to say, “hey, we both look at the guide. Are there any things we would like to change? Adjust?” Sometimes we’re so used to each other’s style of facilitating, especially Felicia and I, we’re like, all right, we’ll just take turns. I’ll call you in if I feel like this is a space for you to come in and then I’ll step back if I feel like I should be stepping back.

More specifically, we’ve had an opportunity to develop a great relationship where if there’s a specific topic that might be more impactful or might weigh heavier on us, depending on whatever identities or whatever experiences you hold, we might then offer it up to the next person to say, Hey, do you mind talking about colorism? For example, as someone who has darker skin, I might feel better if someone who was lighter skinned talks about some of the privilege that comes along with that, just because it helps me not to get so emotional around it, which is not a bad thing, but if I’m facilitating, it’s like, how do I hold space for myself while doing that for others? 

And so one key thing that you learn as a facilitator when you co-facilitate is really understanding what your triggers are and what your moments of sort of just taking a step back to say let me sit back and let this other person lead. Or if it’s another topic, let me be an ally and accomplice or co-conspirator and talk about this from my perspective, if I have certain privileges. So that’s another thing I appreciate as we come together as facilitators in terms of supporting one another.

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